What do we mean by ‘sustainable prosperity’, and how do you measure it, you may ask?

“In short, “sustainable prosperity” would come as a result of sustainable development that enables all human beings to live with their basic needs met, with their dignity acknowledged, and with abundant opportunity to pursue lives of satisfaction and happiness, all without risk of denying others in the present and the future the ability to do the same. This means not just preventing further degradation of Earth’s systems, but actively restoring those systems to full health.” (Worldwatch Institute)

Okay, that makes sense….so how do you know if your community is moving toward sustainable prosperity? Communities have pretty easy and frequest access to data that tells you how your economy is doing, including unemployment rates, the number of businesses opening up or closing down, or room nights sold if we’re a tourism-based community. But what about the social and environmental aspects of ‘sustainable prosperity’? Are you tracking those to help you chart the best course forward?

The first step in determining if your community is on a path toward greater sustainable prosperity is to develop a set of comprehensive, community-wide indicators. We can help you do this and there has been significant work done in BC, Canada and internationally that can be drawn upon.

How do we know how we’re doing, and therefore where we should focus our attention? The first step in determining if your community is moving in the right direction toward greater sustainable prosperity is to develop a set of community indicators. While developing a set of indicators can be an arduous and drawn-out task, there has been significant work done in BC, Canada and internationally that we can draw upon. It turns out that there are a number of common indicators that most communities that are tracking data are using. For example, Sustainable Cities has just released a report describing the common indicators used by twelve cities around the world to measure sustainability in their communities. Download the document here: Sustainable Cities – Indicators for Success.

You may already have a set of recommended indicators from a sustainability plan or other plans that you haven’t started to report on yet. Regardless, if you are looking to develop a baseline set of indicators for your community to start tracking progress toward greater sustainability, we can provide assistance by:

  1. Providing a core set of indicators (roughly 20) that are most commonly used by communities to track progress toward sustainability, and undertaking the research to develop a baseline set of data. We will ensure that the indicators we recommend are ones for which data is readily available year after year.
  2. Use any indicators that you have developed for your community and collect the baseline data for you. We may recommend changes or additions to your indicators in order to ensure they will measure a range of sustainability elements.

We will also provide you with a simple excel-based tracking tool for monitoring and reporting on those indicators; however, you might also be interested in exploring a variety of engaging online data collection story-telling and reporting tools like the ones created by Credit360 for the County of Frontenac and Whistler . Both these tools are designed to seamlessly store, analyze and communicate your results and progress in an open and transparent manner. They can also be expanded to include reporting progress on your community actions and investments in sustainable prosperity.

For more information on indicators, monitoring and reporting on sustainability, and how we can assist you, please contact Dan Wilson at dwilson[at]whistlercentre.ca or 604.966.4457