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Routes And Roots: Setting Navigational Indicators As Sustainability Indicators

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Eshan Tavakoli-Nabavi (Canberra, Australia)


Keyword(s): Sub-theme 10: Management of water resources,
AbstractGrowing challenges in resources planning and management has driven endeavours across the disciplines to develop indicators capable of addressing sustainability. Failure in bringing about tangible changes while swamping by sustainability indicators, however, has drawn scholars and policy-makers' attention to the question of effectiveness of the frameworks in which selection, development, and monitoring of the indicators take place. This study argues the myth of 'the more indicators to monitor, the more predictable future' is not necessarily valid. Having many different baskets of indicators may result in a comprehensive picture but not necessarily a strategic one. In the process of sustainability, it is vital to take the trajectories that can address the travel roots; the pathways addressing underlying mechanisms through which system functions and seeks a desired end (i.e. sustainability in long-term).

Instead of indicators which often provide the users with some insights on the status quo, this paper argues it is possible to secure the system on a sustainable trajectory through using navigational indicators. To this end, it is suggested to characterize 'Self-origination' mechanism by adopting System Dynamics approach. Built on the Self-origination idea we can make sure that the current scenic route running through the growing environmental challenges is consistent with the root drivers explaining why system is here and to where it is heading to. To illustrate this characterization, two case studies (Zayandeh-Rood river Basin, and Mashhad Plain in Iran) are used. The results of the simulations show how defining organic navigational indicators can more effectively inform policymakers about the (in)consistency of the taken routes and the roots needs to be addressed.

Keywords: sustainability indicators, Navigational Indicators, Self-origination, System Dynamics, water resource systems

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