Sustainable urban water systems in indicators: researchers' recommendations versus practice in Swedish utilities
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2009

Sustainable development indicators (SDIs) are frequently recommended as tools for supporting sustainable development. The scientific community has made numerous suggestions regarding SDIs for urban water systems, but few studies have examined what information other actors consider important. This paper examines, based on literature and field studies of Swedish water organizations, what sets of SDIs are considered important, in terms of information content by researchers, sector associations and practitioners. Furthermore, the paper investigates how preferred SDI content relates to these actors' conceptions of sustainable development (SD) and what happens when sender and receiver disagree on what information should be captured in SDIs and exchanged. The results indicate that what SDI content is considered important reflects the conception of SD. Different conceptions of SD and the consequent differences in preferred SDIs contribute to a mismatch between the information that senders want to convey to receivers and the information the latter actually want. In such instances it was the receivers who determined what information was, in fact, exchanged. A prerequisite for meaningful application of SDIs in the Swedish water sector is to identify processes that can contribute to an increased pull for sustainability information, particularly so among its decision makers.


Field study

Sustainable development


Urban water system


Ulrika Palme

Chalmers, Göteborgs miljövetenskapliga centrum (GMV)

Chalmers, Energi och miljö, Environmental Systems Analysis

Anne-Marie Tillman

Chalmers, Energi och miljö, Environmental Systems Analysis

Chalmers, Göteborgs miljövetenskapliga centrum (GMV)

Water Policy

1366-7017 (ISSN)

Vol. 11 2 250-268



Studier av offentlig förvaltning


Oceanografi, hydrologi, vattenresurser



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