The adage “what gets measured, matters” definitely applies to ICSPs. Municipalities need to put in place an ongoing process for collecting information, assessing progress, responding to challenges and reporting to internal and external decision-makers as well as the general public. Timely evaluation and “course correction” will help to identify problems and develop solutions that can save time, money and effort. It will also build excitement and momentum by recognizing and celebrating local accomplishments. The guide summarizes the leading practice for Report as: Publicly monitor, assess and report on progress towards achieving sustainability goals and targets.
Below are links to the tools, case studies and examples mentioned in the guide. UNSM's Municipal Sustainability Office invites municipalities wishing to share their own resources and tools on this page to submit them by email to .
Measuring & Reporting on Sustainability: A Report on Lessons Learned
The Fraser Basin Council has been producing sustainability “snapshot” reports on the Fraser Basin region since the year 2000. Their 2011 report, Measuring and Reporting on Sustainability (2 MB) provides comprehensive guidance on the development of indicators, collection of data, reporting of results and how to move from indicators to action.
Their annual Sustainability Snapshot reports provide excellent examples of how to blend reporting on indicators, actions and stories in an accessible and attractive format. All of their indicator reports are available for download at www.fraserbasin.bc.ca/resources_indicators.html
An additional resource is The Good Indicators Guide (536 kB), published by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, which provides a great overview of the purpose, selection and use of indicators.
Developing Sustainability Indicators
There is no standard system (yet!) for municipal sustainability indicators. A few strong initiatives and tools to consider are:
- The Canadian Sustainability Indicators Network (CSIN) aims to advance best practices in measurement and sustainability indicator systems in Canada and beyond in an effort to achieve progress toward global sustainable development. Using CSIN tools and resources, sustainability indicator and reporting practitioners exchange ideas, data and methods, and circulate announcements. Based on a “community of practice” approach, new and experienced practitioners share lessons learned and discuss relevant issues of theoretical, strategic, technical and practical importance.
- The Sustainable Measures website provides a comprehensive overview, searchable database and training materials related to sustainability measures. They also produced a Guide to Sustainable Community Indicators.
- Launched in 2012, the STAR Communities Rating System provides a comprehensive set of goals, standards and indicators for municipalities.
- The FCM Quality of Life Reporting System provides a standard set of indicators tracked by select Canadian municipalities.
- Developed by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), the Indicators of Well-being in Canada is a program that gathers data from different sources and presents a comprehensive, up-to-date picture of the well-being of Canadians and Canadian society.
Corporate Knights Sustainable Cities Rankings
Corporate Knights produces a ranking of sustainable cities in Canada and the United States. Their methodology was developed in collaboration with The Natural Step Canada and is available for review (and use) by municipalities.
Online Reporting Tools and Approaches
A number of interactive online reporting systems have emerged that allow municipalities to track and communicate progress towards their sustainability goals. These systems allow citizens and decision-makers to view goals, targets, trends, indicators, actions and reports in an accessible, ‘real-time’ format. Examples include:
- The City of Surrey (BC) has developed an interactive “Sustainability Dashboard”. Created in-house by City staff, it reports on indicator performance, shows current activities by topic, and uses interactive maps to share real projects on the ground.
- Credit360 provides customized reporting software to businesses and municipalities. Municipal clients include the Resort Municipality of Whistler, BC
- The Eco Portal is a web-based tool for managing and reporting on environmental, health and safety performance.
- The City of Nanaimo (BC) uses a simple graphical tool to present its balanced scorecard indicators and reports.