Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 504000
Title When experts disagree : the need to rethink indicator selection for assessing sustainability of agriculture
Author(s) Olde, Evelien M. de; Moller, Henrik; Marchand, Fleur; McDowell, Richard W.; MacLeod, Catriona J.; Sautier, Marion; Halloy, Stephan; Barber, Andrew; Benge, Jayson; Bockstaller, Christian; Bokkers, E.A.M.; Boer, Imke J.M. de; Legun, Katharine A.; Quellec, Isabelle Le; Merfield, Charles; Oudshoorn, Frank W.; Reid, John; Schader, Christian; Szymanski, Erika; Sørensen, Claus A.G.; Whitehead, Jay; Manhire, Jon
Source Environment, Development and Sustainability 19 (2017)4. - ISSN 1387-585X - p. 1327 - 1342.
Department(s) Land Use Planning
Animal Production Systems
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2017
Keyword(s) Indicator selection - Multi-criteria assessment - Ranking - Sustainability assessment - Temperate agriculture
Abstract Sustainability indicators are well recognized for their potential to assess and monitor sustainable development of agricultural systems. A large number of indicators are proposed in various sustainability assessment frameworks, which raises concerns regarding the validity of approaches, usefulness and trust in such frameworks. Selecting indicators requires transparent and well-defined procedures to ensure the relevance and validity of sustainability assessments. The objective of this study, therefore, was to determine whether experts agree on which criteria are most important in the selection of indicators and indicator sets for robust sustainability assessments. Two groups of experts (Temperate Agriculture Research Network and New Zealand Sustainability Dashboard) were asked to rank the relative importance of eleven criteria for selecting individual indicators and of nine criteria for balancing a collective set of indicators. Both ranking surveys reveal a startling lack of consensus amongst experts about how best to measure agricultural sustainability and call for a radical rethink about how complementary approaches to sustainability assessments are used alongside each other to ensure a plurality of views and maximum collaboration and trust amongst stakeholders. To improve the transparency, relevance and robustness of sustainable assessments, the context of the sustainability assessment, including prioritizations of selection criteria for indicator selection, must be accounted for. A collaborative design process will enhance the acceptance of diverse values and prioritizations embedded in sustainability assessments. The process by which indicators and sustainability frameworks are established may be a much more important determinant of their success than the final shape of the assessment tools. Such an emphasis on process would make assessments more transparent, transformative and enduring.
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