Home Page


Take the Survey

What is quality of life and sustainable development?

Sustainability as a vision of the future

How do we assess progress?

Defining criterion & indicators

Work Group Topics
Integrating Indicators
Similar Projects
The Tasks Ahead


Category and Indicator Topics Considered in Indian River County Work Groups:


Indian River Lagoon: water quality, wildlife, fishing, recreational uses, wetlands, Seagrass beds conserved as feeding grounds and nurseries for sea and lagoon life
Economic value of the lagoon
Invasive species in the lagoon
Acquiring and protecting land along the shore
Conservation lands, parks
People’s yards
Water supplies
Water available for urban uses…and
For agricultural uses
Conservation of natural areas in parks, refuges
Connecting natural areas, ecosystem processes
Access to land and water resources – hiking, canoes, boat launches, beach access
Rural Lands
Connecting functioning ‘green’ systems
Sustainable agricultural practices
Health of orchards, vegetable crops and cattle herds
Linking development with agricultural conservation
Making farming profitable
Future of citrus groves
Future of cattle ranches
Sand mining
Community planning to connect cities and rural areas
Urban/Built Environment
Energy conservation
Transit services
Use of new urbanism ideas
Infill and mixed uses
Open spaces in urban areas
Trees, beautification
Art, sculptures in community spaces
Social/Community/Cultural/Human Services
Developing, keeping a skilled workforce
Education opportunities for all from K to old age/lifelong learning
Health – children, adults
Culture and Arts
Public safety
Affordable housing
Business climate
Diversity of businesses and jobs
Incomes, quality jobs
Strengthening the manufacturing base
Strengthening the agricultural base
Strengthening the tourism and recreation base
Self reliance
Livable wages and income disparities
‘Buy local’ campaign to support local businesses and farms
Second homes/snowbird population
Taxes overall
Property taxes
Illegal immigrants
Physical Infrastructure
Energy (reliable, affordable service) and energy conservation measures
Water supply
Sewage treatment
Specific Concerns of our Minority Communities
Race relations
Access to services – medical, professional, libraries, cultural, shopping
Law enforcement
Political involvement
Human services
Electric and water services
Immigration rules
Affordable/adequate housing

Governance: When defining what is a ‘sustainable’ county, do we:
Share a long term vision,
Have leaders who collaborate,
Have an informed and involved public,
Is there full cost accounting, with alternatives considered?
Is there timely, reliable data on all aspects of life?
Are sustainability indicators developed and used?
Is there a natural systems databank available and used?
Do we use a broad range of planning tools?
Is there a linking of regional and community values and actions?
Can we measure social capital, for example, assessing voter participation, or use of public libraries?

Criterion and Indicator defined:

We have been using traditional indicators for a long time. Here is how we have usually responded to three questions about indicators or measures in common use today:

1. How is the economy doing?

2. How is the environment doing?

3. How is society doing?

The challenge is to develop comprehensive lists of indicators not only within these three categories but indicators which link these three categories.
Rather than a piecemeal approach, what we need is a view of the community that takes into account the links between the economy, the environment and the society.
Sustainability indicators are different from traditional indicators, which usually measure changes in one part of the community as if they were entirely independent of the other parts.
Here are three examples of indicators – traditional and sustainability indicators – within the three big categories that show how values and systems are connected:
Traditional: median income; per capita income relative to the US average;
Sustainability: Numbers of hours of paid employment at the average wage required to support basic needs.
Traditional: Number of registered voters;
Sustainability: Number of voters who vote in an election; number of voters who attend town meetings.
Traditional: Total water use in a community; per capita water use in the community; safe yield per person;
Sustainability: Water used per person compared with the safe yield per person, looks at water use in terms of supply and demand. It combines data to present a clearer picture of the issue.

Here’s why we look at these indicators in an integrated way: “We can ask ourselves: ‘Can an economy be considered healthy if air quality is considered poor, waterways are polluted, people are living in poverty and crime rates are soaring?....Although it is tough to quantify, environmental and social conditions are integral components of a region’s economic health and cannot be omitted.”

What Makes a Useful Indicator?
Characteristics of effective sustainable community indicators: