SCP indicators for developing countries - a guidance framewok

SCP indicators for developing countries - a guidance framewok

Measuring progress towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production

This document provides guidance to policymakers in developing countries on the development of indicators to measure progress towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production. It contributes to an enhanced understanding of what sustainable consumption and production means in practice in the developing country context.

Sustainable consumption and production (SCP) is defined as: the production and use of goods and services that respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life, while minimising the use of natural resources, toxic materials and emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle, so as not to jeopardise the ability to meet the needs of future generations.

The document proposes a structured framework for understanding SCP and creating indicators. It then tests this against a list of existing SCP-related indicators that are being used in a range of developing countries.

The indicator sets for each country are divided into three broad themes covering the three main pillars of sustainability:

  • environmental - including material consumption and resource use; energy use; land use and biodiversity; waste and pollution
  • socio-economic – including economic baseline indicators like per capita GDP and housing, basic services, health; it was felt that the social and economic pillars needed to be included given the developing country context
  • institutional – these indicators monitor structures and mechanisms of social order that govern the behaviour of sets of individuals, such as the change in expenditure on research and development as a percentage of GDP
The country indicators are classified according to whether they serve as direct or indirect indicators. Direct indicators are those that show either a direct change in consumption or production patterns or a direct effect of changes in consumption and production. Indirect indicators are those whose change does not in and of itself indicate a change in production or consumption patterns, but which can be used either to provide context for change or which could provide a ‘clue’ that change is occurring.

The document suggests that the proposed set of indicators should stimulate internal dialogue and debate regarding the identification of locally relevant indicators. These should be further examined in terms of their clarity, measurability, and acceptability by governments as input into policy decisions relating to the priorities of individual countries.