Visual Aggregation of a Sustainable Development Indicators System (MONET)
Anne Boesch
Environment, Sustainable Development, Territory, Federal Statistical Office FSO, Neuchâtel, Switzerland

The Swiss Sustainable Development Indicators system MONET (German acronym for “Monitoring Sustainable Development”) encompasses about 80 indicators, 55 of which are used to monitor the Federal Council's Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS). Each indicator is assessed positively, neutrally or negatively according to whether the observed trend is evolving towards Sustainable Development or not. This represents a lot of information, and the challenge faced by an indicator system such as MONET is to find a way to provide an overview that is easily understandable by the general public and by policymakers without losing transparency.

The approach that has been used until now is a visual aggregation method called Dashboard (or Cockpit), in analogy with a car dashboard or aircraft cockpit. It is applied to the 55 indicators dedicated to the monitoring of the Swiss SDS. The Dashboard is a simple method that allows the aggregation of indicators with various units (by means of the assessment of their trend) and provides a synoptic view of the whole system as well as an overall assessment of the situation. At the same time, the Dashboard gives access to each individual indicator, thus allowing detailed information to be displayed and achieving transparency.

The experiences made with the Dashboard of Sustainable Development raise a number of issues that are relevant for the discussion about the construction of composite indicators. These include the balance between transparency and simplicity, the weighing process, the importance of structural elements, and the influence of Sustainable Development policies on these elements through the Swiss SDS.

Keywords: Visual aggregation; Sustainable development; Indicators; Weighing

Biography: Anne Boesch has an MSc in biology and an MAS in environmental sciences. She has experience in technology assessment and was involved in a participatory project gathering Swiss citizens' opinions on nanotechnology. She has worked at the Swiss federal statistical office since 2007, where she was first active in the field of environmental accounting. She is now a project manager for Sustainable Development indicators and her main areas of interest are participatory approaches, data visualisation and indicator-based assessment.