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Evaluation of sustainable development. An integrated referential framework for sustainable development.

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Sustainable development is determined by a combination of top-down policy objectives, bottom-up interests as well as theoretical and scientific input. To date there has not yet emerged a system of reference to integrate these aspects. This lack of a framework poses severe problems for the implementation and the evaluation of sustainable development. This paper, which was funded by the Austrian Science Fund, illustrates the importance of a system of reference for the implementation and evaluation of initiatives for sustainable development and describes the framework developed by the "Research Focus Managing Sustainability" of the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. The development of the framework is founded on the definition and delimitation of sustainable development from various perspectives and disciplines, on workshops with experts, on case studies of Local Agenda 21 (LA21) projects and on literature-analysis. The framework accounts for the wide range of notions of sustainable development in a systematic way and provides orientation through the aspects of sustainable development (scope) and the requirements associated therewith (depth). With regard to the implementation of sustainable development, the framework helps to match the demands and expectations on sustainable development that exist on different policy levels. As a means to focus consensus-based processes of local sustainable development policies, the framework makes the concept of sustainable development more operational. Concerning evaluations of Local Agenda 21 initiatives, a meta-analysis in Austria shows that project managers, evaluators and clients apply different systems of reference according to their view of sustainable development. The framework provides a tool to explicitly point out different approaches of sustainable development and thus facilitates discussion and harmonization towards a common system of reference. Furthermore, the framework makes it easier to identify strengths and weaknesses of sustainable development initiatives, clarify missing aspects and possible directions of further improvement. (author's abstract) ; Series: WU-Jahrestagung 2002

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Markus E. Langer

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