2nd Biennial ISIN Meeting
March 13-16, 2003, Toronto
Measuring Progress Toward Sustainability:
Where We've Been, Where We're Headed
Highlights Meeting Sessions Presentations Photos Pre-Meeting Workshops Participants Home
Breakout Sessions: Developing and Using Indicators at Specific Scales
National Scale Overview
Friday, March 14, 2003
National Scale 
These sessions will focus on issues related to sustainability indicators at a national level. The morning session will focus on the wide variation in the audience for and uses of national sustainability indicators. The afternoon session will address how the selection of audience and uses for national indicators affects the process and stakeholders involved in creating and maintaining legitimate indicators for those uses. Each session will begin with a series of short presentations by representatives of several different national level indicator programs. The presentations will be followed by a general discussion among all the participants.
 
National Scale
Morning Session:
10 - 11:45AM
National Indicators of Sustainability: Who Needs Them?
One inherent challenge for national indicator programs is to define the role of the indicators and the audience for them. Some of the roles include: educating the public and decision makers; providing unbiased information; supplementing existing indicators; providing guidance at policy and operational level; enacting change. Possible audiences include: the general public, the media, legislative bodies, government agencies, businesses and nonprofits. Although some indicator programs claim to fit all roles and audiences, is it realistic, feasible or even desirable that one set of sustainability indicators fit all these users and uses? Who are the primary audiences and users and in what contexts do they use indicators? What are the feasibility issues regarding national indicators that are intended to serve multiple roles, particularly at regional and local scales?
Presenters include:
Al Abee, U.S. Forest Service
Ted Heintz, White House Council on Environmental Quality
Martin Lemire, Stats Canada/NTREE Sustainability Indicators
Iddo Wernick, World Resource Institute
 
 National Scale
Afternoon Session:
1:15 - 3:15PM
Building Legitimate Sustainability Indicators at the National Level
Given the institutions and political processes that exist at the national level, what processes can result in a national set of sustainability indicators that are credible and useful in fulfilling the roles discussed in the morning session? What institutions (government agencies, nonprofit's, business interests) need to be involved and how can they create a dialog or process that results in a system that is acceptable and useful to all stakeholders? What stakeholders need to be involved and to what degree? Does the indicator development process need to be 'expert driven' in order to be legitimate? How, can, or should national indicators address the many issues that are, in fact, local issues and cannot be easily reflected in a national level indicator?
Presenters include:
Stephen Hall, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affiars (IPSIM) U.K.
Robin O'Malley, The Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment
Risa Smith, Environment Canada
Jan Surrland, Royal Netherlands Embassy
 
Regional Scale Overview
Friday March 14, 2003
Regional/State/Provincial Scale 
These sessions will focus on regional sustainability indicator issues. Regional indicators are those at the state or provincial level as well as those that involve complicated cross-boundary issues at the subnational level. The boundaries can be those of multiple municipalities as in a metropolitan area, an entire state or province or across states or nations, such as ecosystem-scale systems like the Great Lakes or the Georgia Basin-Puget Sound.
 
  The morning session will focus on sustainability issues inherent to the regional scale considering the purpose of and audience for sustainability indicators at that scale. The afternoon session will address the technical issues of developing a regional indicator system, such as how access to or ownership of the data affects the users' perception of the validity of the indicators and how benchmarks can be set that will have meaning across a region.
 
  The sessions in this track are envisioned as open discussions at which all of us can learn from each others' experiences building and using indicator systems. To that end, the format will differ slightly from conventional conference presentations. Instead of inviting one or two presenters to speak at length about their work so you can learn from them, we have asked a larger group of people to each spend five to ten minutes talking about how their experiences shed light on the themes of the session. Their remarks are intended to serve as a catalyst for the broader discussion that will occupy most of the session; they will get you thinking about your own experiences, so you can share them and we all can learn together from each other.
 
Regional Scale
Morning Session:
10 - 11:45AM
Sustainability Indicators For Regional Governance and Decision-Making
This session will address two questions focused on regional level processes:
 
  • What sustainability issues are inherently relevant to or need to be addressed at the state/provincial/multi-jurisdiction level? This is related to the need to deal with diverse issues across political boundaries and to find the common ground to start bringing people together.
  • Who uses indicators at a regional level and how? Related questions include: What determinants of sustainability or policy decisions are controlled at this level? Whose decisions are we trying to influence? What levels of power can indicators affect at the state, provincial, or multi-jurisdictional level?
  Presenters include:
Ron Colman, GPI Atlantic
Joy Hecht, New Jersey Sustainability Institute
Steve Litke, The Fraser Basin Council, B.C
John Wells, Minnesota Office of Strategic & Long-Range Planning
 
Regional Scale  
Afternoon Session:
1:15 - 3:15PM
Implementing Indicators At A Regional Scale: Benefits and Barriers
This session will address two questions focused on the technical aspects of regional sustainability indicators:
 
  • What are the implications of working across jurisdictions for the design and implementation of indicator systems?. How do such systems address political or cultural issues that differ across borders? Where are such indicator systems housed (in government or outside) and what are the implications for how they are perceived (by public or others), access to data to calculate them, who uses them, how effectively they can be used, etc?
  • Developing numerical targets for indicator systems - where has this been done, how are targets used, what are the political issues in getting buy-in, etc.
  Presenters include:
Court Gould, Sustainable Pittsburgh
Allison Leavitt, Sustainable Cincinnati, Regional Indicators Initiative
Harvey Shear, Environment Canada
 
Community Scale Overview
Friday March 14, 2003
Community Scale 
In this track, participants will explore the tools and capacities required at the local level to develop and use sustainability indicators to track progress, inform decision-making, and instigate change toward sustainable programs and policies. The morning sessions will address the processes, partnerships, and capacities related to developing and integrating sustainability indicators into decision-making processes. The afternoon sessions will address issues related to the indicators themselves and the extent to which the selection and presentation determine the effect indicators have upon community decisions and actions.
 
Note that there are two separate sessions in the morning and the afternoon. Participants will be able to attend either A or B in the morning and either C or D in the afternoon.
 
Community Scale
Morning Session:
10 - 11:45AM
Sustainability Indicators For Community Governance: Models, Practices, and Necessary Capacities
  A. Sustainability Metrics and Community Governance: The Use of Indicators in Decision Making
How important are sustainability metrics to effective governance? What kinds of decision-making "tools" are needed to ensure that indicators inform decisions? How can indicators be designed to track performance in relation to sustainability commitments by governments and other organizations? How can indicators be effectively embedded in community governance documents like Comprehensive Plans? What is the role of transparency and reporting? Gain insights and share success stories about the use of indicators in decision making, including some examples from the work of the Toronto Sustainability Round Table.
Presenters include:
David Bell, York University Centre for Applied Sustainability
Linda Harvey, Vision 2020
Martin Herzog, City of Toronto
Meg Shields, City of Toronto
Allison Quaid, International Center for Local Environmental Initiatives
 
  B. Civic Capacity: An Essential Component for the Effective Use of Indicator Systems as a Community Improvement Tool
What is the role of civic capacities in implementing and using community indicators as a tool for moving toward more sustainable communities? This session includes an overview and short case study followed by a group discussion of (a) the types of capacities necessary for indicators to be effective tools for community change and (b) opportunities/strategies for developing those capacities.
Presenters include:
Chris Paterson, Community Initiatives, LLC
Virginia Maclaren, University of Toronto
Dean Kubani, City of Santa Monica
 
Community Scale 
Afternoon Session:
1:15 - 3:15PM
Tools and Processes For Creating Broad-Scale Community Change With Indicators
  C. Benchmarking Community Sustainability: An Assessment of Progress
Where do local communities stand in terms of sustainability? To date, although it is common to see rankings of communities for a variety of attributes (best place to live, most affordable, best schools, etc), there has been no organized comparison of communities in terms of progress toward sustainable development. Join community practitioners and sustainability experts in discussing the benefits of and barriers to benchmarking community sustainability. Is there a common set of indicators that could be used to compare and contrast diverse communities? What are the data issues that need to be addressed to develop effective benchmarks for sustainability? Given available data, how does one make meaningful interpretations of the comparisons?
Convenors Include:
Kris Prendergast, Institute for Sustainable Cities
Allison Quaid, International Center for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)
Dean Kubani, City of Santa Monica
 
  D. Selection of Indicators: Implications of Various Levels and Types of Indices
At what level and how are different types of indexes and systems applied? This session will explore indices used to monitor and promote community-level awareness and change, but with a clear eye on how they are applied in community (and other) settings. We will explore the results of using these tools while being aware of who and what process controls the creation and selection of indicators. Questions to be addressed include: 1) Where and how have indices been used? 2) How do indices help/improve/facilitate the impact of indicators upon community sustainability outcomes? and 3) Are there any emerging lessons or "preferred practices" regarding the effective application of indices?
Joyce Baker, United Way of East Central Iowa
Alan AtKisson, AtKisson Inc.
 
Organization Scale Overview
Friday March 14, 2003
Organization/Corporate Scale 
How does the use of sustainability indicators - whether internal to the organization or for external communication - improve the sustainable practices of organizations including manufacturers, service providers, municipalities, and government agencies? The morning session addresses the need for and audience for organizational level sustainability indicators and how to build support within an organization. The afternoon session includes presentations of several specific methods for developing sustainability indicators within an organization or industry sector and an open discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of these and other methods
 
Organization Scale
Morning Session:
10 - 11:45AM
Building Support For Sustainable Management Systems: Why Do Organizations Need Sustainability Indicators and How Are They Using Them?
What are the purposes of indicators, performance measurement and progress assessment at the organizational scale? Why would an organization pursue sustainability and develop sustainability indicators? What are the benefits and barriers? Who are the audiences that must be reached and what are their needs? Since goals, objectives, internal culture, current capacity and needs vary enormously across the range of organizations, do the answers to these questions change depending on the type of organization (for-profit, non-profit, public, or private)? How (and is it possible) to develop a set of indicators that can be used for BOTH internal management and external reporting? What is the overlap and what are the areas and indicators that can't be used for both internal and external reporting?
  Following brief presentations by representatives of for-profit corporations, not-for-profit organizations, and government agencies that are actively working on sustainability indicators at the organizational level, there will be a facilitated discussion of purposes, audiences, benefits, barriers and ways to build support for organizational level indicators.
Edward Quevedo, WSP Environmental Inc.
Erika Tucker, Sustainable Asset Management Group
Tony Genco, Parc Downsview Park
 
Organization Scale
Afternoon Session:
1:15 - 3:15PM
Tools and Processes For Developing and Integrating Organization Level Sustainability Indicators 
This session will consist of brief presentations on specific methods that have been successfully applied to developing effective organizational level indicators of sustainability. Following the presentations there will be a facilitated group discussion on their pros and cons and where specific methods are most successful - i.e, What pre-existing conditions are necessary? Do certain methods fit specific types of organization? etc.
  Presenters include:
Gil Friend, Natural Logic
Anthony Hodge, Anthony Hodge Consultants
Scott Johnson, CH2M HILL
Andrew Jones, Sustainability Institute
 
Additional Breakouts
3:30 - 5:30PM
Community Sustainability Reporting: A survey: Presentations on community sustainability reporting efforts around the world
Presenters:
Lee Hatcher, AtKisson, Inc
Noel Keough, Sustainable Calgary Society
Monica Pohlmann, Sustainable Calgary Society
Bonnie Prochaska, Sustainable Racine, WI
Sydney Green, Healthy Community Iniative of Greater Orlando, FL
Craig Haskins, City of Cape Town, South Africa
Michael Lunn, Sustainable Management Systems

 
  Indicators and Targets for Benchmarking Community Sustainability
Presenters:
Dean Kubani, Kris Prendergast, Allison Quaid

 
  Decision Support Tools for Sustainability
Presenters:
Peter Hardi - Dashboard for North American Municipalities
Steve Mullen - Socially Legitimate Approaches to defining Community Performance Indicators

 
  Sustainability and Environmental Performance Measurement
Presenters:
Chris Paterson
 

 
Comments or questions?
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