Developing new indicators: survey results
In September 2011, Defra invited feedback on our plans for the development of a new set of indicators to meet the Government’s commitments to sustainable development.
A brief survey asked stakeholders to give their views on the selection of priority indicators, possible additions and refinements, and their use of the existing indicators. For each of the current set of national indicators respondents were asked to what extent they considered it a priority or not.
The uses of indicators
Defra would like to thank all those who responded, providing useful feedback on the use of the indicators outside central government. Of the 242 people responding to the survey, about a third described themselves as working in local or regional government, while nearly a quarter were from business and the private sector. Reported uses for the existing set of indicators included:
- Development of environmental strategies;
- Supporting organisational reporting;
- Informing target setting and base-lining;
- Benchmarking and providing a context for local reporting;
- Research and policy development;
- Teaching, training and engaging people on sustainable development.
Selecting priority indicators
Respondents generally agreed with Defra’s proposal to focus on the highest level indicator for each particular issue, for example water resource use rather than a more specific indicator like domestic water consumption. Over half of respondents felt almost all of the current 2010 indicators were important measures of sustainable development.
In broad terms, respondents considered issues of waste, emissions and energy the highest priorities as sustainability indicators. Those issues considered least important indicators of sustainable development often also reflected relatively high uncertainty, with many respondents answering that they were “not sure” if they should be priorities. Those indicators for which respondents were most uncertain (eg dwelling density, land recycling) may require clearer presentation in future, for example if selected for inclusion in the formal consultation.
The top 10 indicators (based on those that had the most support – ie rankings of Definite Priority or Possible Priority – and least dissent – ie rankings of Probably Not [a priority] or Definitely Not) were:
- Renewable energy
- Greenhouse gas emissions
- Household Waste per person
- Household energy use
- Emissions of air pollutants
- Local environment quality
- River quality
- CO2 emissions by end user
The bottom 10 indicators (using the same system) are:
- UK international assistance
- Road accidents
- Pension provision
- Fear of crime
- Dwelling density
- Agriculture sector (emissions)
- Young adults (employment)
- Getting to school
Defra’s Environment Statistics team has been reviewing these responses alongside:
- Our mapping of indicators against departmental business plan indicators;
- Feedback from other government departments;
- The provisional set of measures for National Wellbeing published by the Office of National Statistics in October 2011 (which are now being consulted on, with responses invited by 23rd January 2012);
- International developments.
The new sustainable development indicators will be integrated with the new measures of national wellbeing, international frameworks and UK Government departmental business plans to ensure a consistent and transparent approach to measuring and reporting progress.
A formal consultation on the new sustainable development indicators will take place in the spring or early summer of 2012, and will be announced in SD Scene.
The documents below provide full details of responses to the survey. We have decided to publish these as there is significant interest in the sustainable development indicators work and we hope that presenting the views of stakeholders will add constructively to the debate. We stress that the comments and views given are those of people who took part in the original survey and do not necessarily reflect the views of Defra.
- Full analysis of responses for each of the SD Indicators;
- Unedited responses to open survey questions (personal details have been removed).
Do you have a comment on this page?
All comments are moderated: we will not publish irrelevant or inappropriate comments. Please note that we require your email to validate your message and will not publish it or use it for any other purpose.