We are what we measure.   It's time to measure what we want to be.

A checklist for evaluating indicators

This section describes a checklist that may be helpful for applying the sustainability criteria to indicators. None of the criteria are absolute, and at times a less desirable indicator may be selected when there are no reliable data sources for a better indicator. However, it is important to remember that sustainability is a long-term concept. Sustainability indicators are not just a statement of what exists, they also show the community's vision of the future. Before time is spent gathering and reporting data for an indicator, it should be compared to the community's vision of sustainability to make sure that it is pointing in the right direction.

Using our checklist can help you determine whether or not an indicator is a good measure of sustainability. The checklist does not address whether an indicator is a good indicator in general. It assumes that the indicator meets the general criteria for effectiveness. This checklist concentrates on the characteristics that make an indicator a good indicator of sustainability.

The checklist has 14 questions. Positive answers to the first 13 questions earn one point each for the indicator being evaluated. This means that the total possible score for an indicator is 13 points. Few indicators earn more than 8 points, however, because it is difficult to create an indicator that simultaneously measures all six types of community capital and links the economy, society and environment. The final question is the show-stopper question, because local sustainability is not something that can be achieved at the expense of global sustainability.