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Defining Local Sustainability: Usage and Potentialities of Sustainable Development Indicators in French Cities
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This study focuses on the sustainable development indicators at a local level. For twenty years indicators have been validated both by the international and the French frameworks as a tool for local sustainability. Identifying and developing a set of indicators demands a reflection on the sustainable development theories and represents a passageway from theory to practice, crystallizing all the unanswered questions left or discrepancies between theories. Analyzing the content of sustainable development indicators (i.e., not how the numerical value is provided but what it measures) seem to be an interesting path to look for what dimensions and interpretations of sustainable development are taken into account by the cities and intercommunalities and how this can give clues on their interpretation of urban sustainability.  It is also an opportunity to explore how the indicators are used and if the municipalities are taking advantages of all their potentialities. After a classification and analysis of more than 1800 indicators distributed between 21 French cities and intercommunalities, several observations have been made. First of all, the different facets on sustainability are taken into account and the connections with French policies are made. However, the quality and coherence are very diverse and uneven from one city and another. The municipalities lack transparency about the evolution of indicators and they are not taking advantages of the communication potential of the indicators towards the public. Also, the indicators are rarely if ever kept on the long term so far. To sum up, indicators of sustainability at a local level represent a way to push the debates and views over sustainable development on a new level.  But they are also encountering obstacles from a lack of knowledge and because of the difficulty to define and apply sustainable development. If knowledge and pedagogy are slowly spreading, much is left to learn about how to create a shareable vision of the future as well as common values and a common culture within a community.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 101 p.
Examensarbete vid Institutionen för geovetenskaper, ISSN 1650-6553 ; 150
Keyword [en]
Sustainable Development, Indicators, Local Sustainability, Urban Planning, Agenda 21, France
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-204944OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-204944DiVA: diva2:640294
Subject / course
Sustainable development
Educational program
Master Programme in Sustainable Development
2012-12-04, Norrland I, Department of Earth Sciences, Villavägen 16, 752 36 Uppsala, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2013-08-13 Created: 2013-08-13 Last updated: 2013-08-13Bibliographically approved

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