Indicators for sustainable development of urban water systems
Licentiatavhandling, 2004

The thesis investigates the Swedish urban water systems from a sustainable development perspective. It further analyses the combined findings from a case study on the construction of sustainable development indicators (SDIs) at a Swedish water company, and a literature survey on different applications of SDIs within companies in general. The investigation of the Swedish urban water systems show that these need to be further developed in the direction of increased sustainability, especially as concerns environmental sustainability. On the other hand, it is concluded that regarding environmental and sustainability awareness as well as accustomedness to the usage of indicators in these areas, Swedish water companies appear to be comparatively well-developed. The thesis identifies a number of complicating aspects regarding sustainable development. It is concluded that many of the most urgent problems from a sustainability perspective cannot be handled solely at the level of urban water systems. Furthermore, sustainable development is complicated by its demand for far-reaching responsibilities and its non-compatibility with the prevalent individual short-term perspective. SDIs appear to have a potential in helping to realise sustainable development in general. To make SDIs effective and efficient though, weaknesses identified in their present use concerning accommodation of stakeholder interests, credibility, benchmarking and future-orientation need to be addressed. The thesis ends with some thoughts on future research, which will include case studies of water companies, and focus on information need.

urban water systems

sustainable development indicators


Ulrika Palme

Chalmers, COMESA, Miljösystemanalys

Chalmers, Göteborgs miljövetenskapliga centrum (GMV)


Annan naturresursteknik

Report - Department of Environmental Systems Analysis, Chalmers University of Technology: 2004:3

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