Conceptualisation of the Global Dimension of Sustainable Development
Jana Wachtl, Anne Boesch
Federal Statistical Office FSO, Neuchâtel, Switzerland

The Sustainable Development Indicators system MONET (German acronym for “Monitoring Sustainable Development”) initially encompassed indicators focussing mainly on the measure of Switzerland's sustainable development within the country borders. But globalisation implies that a country's sustainable development cannot be regarded in isolation and consequently there was need of additional indicators that take into account the interdependencies between Switzerland and other countries, i.e. the “Monitoring Sustainable Development” of Switzerland's sustainable development.

But what concretely is the “Monitoring Sustainable Development” of sustainable development? How can it be defined in order to select appropriate indicators without being arbitrary?

The conceptualisation of the “Monitoring Sustainable Development” was done based on the established methodological framework of the MONET system in collaboration with a group of experts from various backgrounds (federal administration, academic, non governmental organisation). Relevant topics of the “Monitoring Sustainable Development” were defined taking into account inter alia the 45 postulates describing the direction to be taken towards sustainable development, the systemic structure (based on a stock-flow model comprising five sustainable development processes) and the principles of impartiality, independence and transparency of official statistics. Subsequently, indicators covering the eight defined topics could be systematically selected. As a result, a new set of indicators describing the global dimension of sustainable development was integrated into the MONET indicators system.

One of the biggest challenges of this project was the lack of data. Furthermore, the global dimension of sustainable development is very complex, which means that the interpretation of most phenomenons and consequently the signification of the indicators are multidimensional. For instance there is always a global versus a national point of view. In consequence of these difficulties it was essential to be able to rely on a clearly defined procedure basing on the established methodological framework and on the principles of official statistics.

Keywords: Global Dimension; Sustainable Development; Indicators; Conceptualisation