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The term public goods first entered into the CAP debate in 2007 when it was used in an agricultural context by the environmental NGOs.
Now it seems that the Commission wants to link the provision of public goods to direct payments by greening the first pillar which would represent a very important innovation in the history of the CAP.
What I see as the main problem with this proposal is that it neglects the fact that we cannot measure the value of public goods properly. If you read carefully the legal proposals on greening direct payments and Ecological Focus Areas (EFA, art.
However, we probably need equivalence criteria for converting green infrastructures into hectares and percentage of the used agricultural area of the farmholding (i.e. Samuel thanks for the clarification but no matter how I read, it still seems that this idea is about putting 7% of your land to ecological focus meaning you can not produce crops there – this is actually what set-aside is about. Home Journals Books Conferences News About Us Jobs Health Vol. Social indicators, and therefore sustainable development indicators also, are scientific constructs whose principal objective is to inform public policy-making.
This paper is a revised version of an article originally published by Iddri (Boulanger, 2004). 1The need for reliable and pertinent indicators to guide the sustainable development process was recognised early, at the time of the Rio Conference. 2In the opinion of the authors of Agenda 21, current indicators (including GDP) are incapable of evaluating the "sustainability of systems"1. 3The concept of indicators was originally used in a purely scientific context: sociological research. 5Shortly after Lazarsfeld's article was published, the word 'indicator", to which the 'social' was added as a qualifier, became popular in the public domain, or at least in the domain of public policy. 6While the term "indicator" was new, the reality described was much older, not to say immemorial. 7After the decline of the social indicators movement of the sixties, the concept of social indicator suffered a lapse of several decades before re-emerging quite recently, first with reference to the measurement of human welfare and development and later with reference to the notion of sustainability and sustainable development.
8Among these attempts, only one achieved a real measure of success: this was the UNDP Human Development Index.
9The exception represented by the Human Development Index is rather enlightening: without the backing of the Nobel Prize for Economic Science laureate Amartya Sen4, it probably would also have failed to pass muster.
10And yet the only difference between a management chart and a synthetic index lies in the ultimate phase of the construction and measuring process of the indicators: that is the production, using basic indicators, of a single synthetic value for the purpose of condensing the information contained in the management chart.
11Figure 1 shows the successive phases of the construction of indicators identified by Lazarsfeld.
12The first phase consists in identifying the various dimensions constituting the concept, given that these are always multidimensional. 13The various dimensions are then broken down into variables, some of which will be retained as indicators, either because they seem to be particularly pertinent or because they are easier to measure.
15The last operation—an essential one in the context of putting a scientific concept to the empirical test—is to aggregate the various indicators into a synthetic indicator.
17Statistical standardisation consists in expressing all the values as standard deviations, after having transformed the variables so that their mean is equal to zero. 18To be more precise, we should put empirical standardisation in the plural since various techniques can be used. 19The process is identical to empirical standardisation with the min and max boundaries, except that the boundaries are not dictated by the data base (observed values) but are chosen with reference to the context of action or evaluation.
20Mathematical standardisation consists in applying a mathematical transform (function) to data so that they remain between a lower and a higher boundary (e.g. 21Aggregation is the operation consisting in condensing the information contained in each criterion into one single item of information. Figure 2 is an example of a tree diagram of this kind where the concept of sustainable development is broken down into three dimensions corresponding to the famous: Economic, Social and Environmental pillars. 22The hierarchical tree analysis described above is reminiscent of certain methods of multi attribute decision making which use the same kind of decision-tree7.
24Let us now take the case of an NGO wishing to set up its international headquarters in the best-performing country as regards sustainable development. 25While standardisation and aggregation methods raise serious theoretical and practical difficulties, it is mostly as regards weighting that the main scientific challenges and democratic issues arise. 27The reasons which disqualify the synthetic index option and argue in favour of the scoreboard are impossible to understand if the user for which the information is provided is not specified.
28On closer inspection, indicators can be used for as many social appropriations and purposes as there are policy concepts and, in a democratic society, as there are concepts of democracy. 29But there is another model for democracies, the "deliberative" model, in which the political process exists precisely for the purpose of creating a common vision of what is good or just. 30The type of addressee for whom the information is mainly intended is what differentiates the two historical traditions from which current social indicators stem. 32Depending on who they are addressed to and for what purpose, when they are part of the democratic process, indicators can serve to discharge one or several of the following functions. 33While the first two uses are well known and amply documented, this is far from being the case for the third which has been almost entirely ignored by political philosophy. 34Transaction or actions whose consequences affect groups or individuals other than those directly involved thereby belong to the public domain and are the subject of regulation and control. 35The existence of externalities is not sufficient in itself for a public to be constituted; they must also be perceived and understood. 37To counteract and control the undesirable consequences of certain activities, the public creates its own political organisation made up of officials and civil servants designated for that purpose.
38Publics are born, assert themselves and disappear as a result of external conditions such that activities which were once charged with consequence lose that quality while other activities emerge, the effects of which turn out to be "stable, uniform, recurrent and irreparable".
39The changes that have occurred since Dewey wrote these lines have only confirmed his intuition. 40As we have seen, seeking out indicators must involve a definition of the essential dimensions of the concept to be made operational. 41Furthermore, in the pair formed by the noun "development" and the adjective "sustainable", emphasis can be put on one or the other of the two words. 42The sectoral approach is certainly the one which inspired the greatest number of attempts at defining sustainable development indicators. 43The construction of the corresponding indicator systems is also greatly facilitated: it is the result of negotiation between these three social forces with the assistance of experts and scientists, whose mission, more often than not, is to reinforce to some degree the environmental pillar which is rather weak compared to employer and union "heavyweights".
44The pillar or sectoral approach does have the drawbacks which are inherent to its advantages, plus a few more extraneous ones. 46An indicator such as the genuine saving rate (Hamilton and Clemens, 1999; Dasgupta, 2001) is based on a radically opposite hypothesis.
47While the resource-based approach dispenses with defining development, this is not the case for the approach focused on human beings, their needs and their well-being; in this case development is understood as the increase in well-being for the greatest possible number of humans, now and in the future. 48According to Sen, what contributes to people’s well-being is not the basket of consumer goods which they have access to, but what they can do with it considering the characteristics of the goods themselves, their own personal characteristics—both physical and mental—as well as social characteristics and external circumstances. 49As to capabilities, they refer to the possibility for individuals to be and act according to their own objectives and values ("people’s capabilities to lead the lives they value").
50The solution to the problem raised by Arrow consists therefore in broadening the information base on which to establish social choice.
51The first three approaches to sustainable development, in terms of pillars, resources and well-being, adopt a substantial definition. 53Efficacy as an evaluation norm raises the question of goals and objectives of any social action and also of institutions and systems. 54We have included in the sustainability norms the two forms of equity constituting sustainable development, which signifies that development which contradicts intragenerational equity can no more be considered sustainable than development which exhausts the resources that future generations will be needing. Since then it has gradually infiltrated the mainstream policy debate appearing in many papers and speeches from research papers to the highest level of decision making. By using the wording of the Commission, this green payment will be paid for “compulsory practices to be followed by farmers addressing both climate and environment policy goals” under the form of “simple, generalised, non-contractual and annual actions that go beyond cross-compliance”. First, as discussed in a previous post, it seems that this idea actually means a reintroduction of the set-aside programme abolished in 2008. It is apparent that we can only make educated guesses about the value of a landscape or the value of biodiversity.
This might take the form of tax-deductable private donations for non-profit organisations or public money given to validated environmental organisations based on the number of members.
Just because something is tricky to quantify and price in an economic terms does not mean it doesn’t have a value. Presumably one could apply the same logic to direct payments for income support for farmers. Jack I agree that ecosystems have an inherent value but I still have doubts on their quantification. Their usefulness is dependant on trade-offs between scientific soundness and rigor, political effectiveness and democratic legitimacy.
It was reaffirmed in many sections of Agenda 21 the programme document which was agreed at the summit, and was the central theme of Chapter 40, the last one, which deals with information required for decision-making. Furthermore, existing information cannot be used in this format for decision-making and must be converted and then redirected at the various user groups. It designated the translation of theoretical (abstract) concepts into observable variables so that the scientific hypotheses involving these concepts could be submitted to empirical verification.
As regards the word 'index'2, it designates a synthetic indicator constructed by aggregating other so-called 'basic" indicators. A "social indicator movement" emerged in the United States, then in Europe, following the publication by Bauer, Biderman and Gross (1966) of a report called "Social Indicators".
The same term in fact covered two traditions, one, age-old and the other going back to the industrial revolution. Observers, among them Gadrey and Jany-Catrice (2003), Perret (2002) and Sharpe (2004) were numerous in remarking on the recent proliferation of attempts—if not at replacing GDP—at least supplementing it with a more adequate synthetic measurement of well-being. All the others—be it the ISEW (Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare) created by Daly and Cobb (1990), the GPI (Genuine Progress Indicator, see Talberth et al, 2006) the MDP (Measure of Domestic Progress, Jackson, 2004), the Index of Economic Well-being created by Sharpe and Osberg (2002), the HWI (Human Wellbeing Index Prescott-Allen, 2001), etc.—failed to gain much favour or sufficient legitimacy to become institutionalised. On closer examination, it is not so much indicators that come up against a degree of opposition (in particular from the scientific community) but rather indices or synthetic indicators. In other words, a synthetic index is no more or less than a scoreboard to which is added an extra indicator made up of the aggregation of the data contained in it. The concept of poverty, for example, covers a material dimension, but also a social one (exclusion, marginalisation) and also a cultural dimension (level of education, means of expression). While the selection of indicators is often based on an assessment of observation and measurement constraints, it does nevertheless always include theoretical elements.
Then must be decided the level of precision, accuracy, spatial and temporal scale as well as which units are to be used. This type of standardisation is done before a great many statistical modelling exercises but is unfortunately inapplicable in the context of social indicators because each new observation involves a new calculation of the mean followed by a new standardisation. One of the more common ones consists in using as a base for calculation a base-year (for example the year when the statistical survey began) and expressing all the subsequent values as a percentage of variation from the initial value.
The situation from which there needs to be differentiation is given the value 0, and the situation which is viewed as ideal (which may or may not correspond to a strategic objective) is given the value 1.
Only the Economic branch is further developed, with two constituting dimensions, Performance and Resilience. As Bouyssou et al (2000) rightly remarked, the construction process of indicators is, in fact, a multi-criteria or multi-attribute decision problem.
The matrix is then interpreted so as to obtain a classification of the various alternatives and identifying the one which is the closest to satisfying the requirements.
It will start by selecting a series of economic, social and environmental indicators8, collect the relevant data over a certain number of years and examine the performances of the various countries in terms of sustainable development. Are we not confronted with an insurmountable obstacle because of the intrinsic incommensurability of the sectors we are trying to compare? For example, the argument given by Baneth (1998), in opposition to synthetic indices, which reads: "A pilot flies an aircraft using data supplied by a large number of instruments and that data cannot be summed up in a single indicator", is only acceptable if you consider that only pilots, not passengers, need indicators.
The "aggregative" model in liberal democracies sees the political process as a simple choice, by voting, between a priori preferences which were generated before the electoral process. The vote itself is less important than the deliberative process which is the source of decisional legitimacy, more so than voting or negotiation between parties each seeking to defend their private interests. Their purpose is not so much to inform government—even though officially reports are addressed to the government—as to allow civil society to evaluate public policies (and, in the last resort, government action) and beyond that, evaluate society's entire development10. However, as soon as they are no longer considered to be generating indirect consequences, certain activities which were once part of the public domain can return to the private sector. According to Dewey, one of the major political problems of the age of technology is that the consequences of certain individual or group behaviours are so diffuse and remote in time that it is no longer possible to perceive them without recourse to what he calls social enquiry, i.e.
While a public state always give rise to some kind of political organisation, it may become inadequate because of the emergence of new publics who may then find themselves deprived of any suitable political organisation.
In a democratic organisation based on the right to vote, every person becomes—because he is a member of the electorate—a public official. Alterations in material conditions (technologies in the main) play a major role in such changes. The quest for sustainable development itself was born of growing discomfort in the face of the hitherto unsuspected magnitude of the long term effects of transactions and economic behaviours13? In its most rustic form, it is limited to the famous pillars of sustainable development, with economic, social and environmental "domains" considered separately. The resulting management chart of economic, social and environmental indicators is generally well balanced and there will be no question, quite obviously, of aggregating them into one synthetic index, of whatever variety, since by definition it is precisely the equilibrium between pillars that matters. It is firmly focused on sustainability, to be understood either in the restricted meaning of a sustainable use of natural resources, or in the wider acceptance, the transmission of an aggregate stock of productive capital per capita sufficient for future generations to produce the goods and services required for their well-being.
This monetary index is based partly on the national accounts and seeks to measure the degree of true enrichment of a national economy by subtraction from gross national saving as defined in the SNA the depreciation of man-made capital, drawdown on natural resources, the cost of damage to the environment, as well as the external debt, but adding expenditures for healthcare and education which are considered as an investment in human capital.
Contrary to what this formulation might lead one to suppose, an approach based on well-being does not necessarily mean accepting the utilitarian programme which pervades welfare economics. Such potentially momentous matters as individual freedom, the fulfilment or violation of recognized rights, aspects of quality of life not adequately reflected in the statistics of pleasure, cannot directly swing a normative evaluation in this utilitarian structure". From this perspective, development, in fine, consists in broadening the capability set accessible to individuals and therefore the range of desirable life choices accessible to human beings. It is however possible to choose a procedural approach and consider sustainable development in normative terms. It implies that citizens are able to make their voice heard for any decision likely to affect them, at all levels and in all fields, including economic matters.
While the object of evaluation is a production or consumption pattern, which is at the core of sustainable development, the efficacy norm brings us back to questions of well-being, needs, etc.
The need for securing mainly environmental public goods in the future CAP is echoed by an increasing number of stakeholders, rallying behind the slogan of “Public Money for Public Goods”, developed by Zahrnt (2009). The latest proposals mention three conditions (three different crops on arable land, the maintenance of permanent grassland and a 7% of the area devoted to ecological focus) as requirements of receiving “greened” direct payments.
Second, it also seems that we are now faced with a super-cross-compliance (by using the wording of Alan Matthews) as farmers opting even for the basic payment must also meet these new requirements. As a result, any estimates will be subject to ongoing contest and dispute and it is unclear how the Commission proposes to deal with these problems. This would let the general public put their money where their mouths are and would also cultivate some competitive provision of public goods.
The place to start with the economics of environmental public goods is the various TEEB report. In place of current direct payments in Pillar 1, the public could be invited to make tax-deductible donations to farmer welfare charities. I have read all the TEEB reports you mention (thanks for mentioning them) but I have not encountered with any possible soultions useful to us. The paper considers in this perspective three important stages in the building of sustainable development indicators: the identification of the various dimensions underlying the concept of sustainable development, the process of aggregating lower dimension indicators in higher level composite indices and the attribution of weights at various levels of the indicators hierarchy.
Several questions are left unanswered, to which the authors of Agenda 21 would have us reply. We come across the word in a seminal text by Lazarsfeld on the operationalisation of sociological theories (Lazarsfeld, 1958) where the various stages in the translation of concepts into indices were clearly identified and analysed for the first time. Most of the indicators used in public policy-making are in fact indices: this is true for GDP, the index of consumer prices, stock exchange indices such as the Dow-Jones and the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nationals Development Programme (UNDP).
Whereas for Lazarsfeld and later, the scientific community, the role of indicators was purely methodological, it became normative and axiological with the movement for social indicators.
For an exhaustive census of welfare and quality of life indices or macro-indicators, see Gadrey and Jany-Catrice's (2003) and Sharpe (2004). There is no opposition, quite the contrary, to the proliferation of scoreboards of every variety, i.e.
But it would seem that for some people, this ultimate phase is all the difference between a rigorously serious and scientific effort and a subjective, ideological and fanciful exercise. The material dimension is itself multi-faceted; it includes financial components (income, level of indebtedness, other financial burdens) and non-financial ones (health, housing, rights).


For example, again on poverty, there is a theoretical question which conditions the nature of the income indicator, i.e. More often than not, indicators do not have the same degree of precision and are not measured with similar units, which of course complicate the process of aggregation of measurements into a synthetic indicator. But, as we have already mentioned, to become aggregated, indicators must be capable of expression in a common unit. This approach is useful for an analysis in terms of progress or regression from an initial situation. Performance is evaluated with the help of two indicators: two growth rates (GDP and Productivity).
In the case of a monocriterion (or aggregative) approach, the entire matrix will be synthesised into a vector comprising only one value per alternative. Depending on such performances, it will be able to determine the ideal location for its headquarters. Perret (2002, p27) rightly remarked, "The intrinsic theoretical weakness of synthetic indicators is obvious (a rational justification of the weightings used is difficult)".
The aircraft metaphor is irrelevant because the difference between it and a human group or society, is that the passengers of an aircraft are all going to the same destination and all want to get there as safely and comfortably as possible. It is deliberation which makes it possible to transform "pre-reflective" preferences, established ex ante, into ex post reflective preferences, capable of transcending personal opinions and taking the common good into consideration.
The former are a governmental discipline, implemented by the administration in the service and at the behest of central government. Unlike official statistics, social indicators are meant to be an instrument of democratic evaluation just as much as a management tool in the hands of the authorities alone.
There is however a notable exception to this lack of interest in the role of statistical information in the democratic process: the analysis of the role of social enquiry in relation to politics proposed by John Dewey in his book published in 1927, The Public and its Problems.
For example, religious rites and beliefs passed from the public to the private domain when the members of a social community ceased to believe that the consequences of individual piety or impiety could have an effect on the community. In the preface to the second edition of his book (1946), Dewey considered that relations between nations were in the process of acquiring the properties which constitute a public and that, for that very reason, they needed some kind of specific political organisation which they were lacking at the time.
Therefore, voting is supposed to serve the public interest and not that person’s private interests. And is it not scientific developments (the social enquiry) which have made us aware that some of our behaviours may affect durably and irreversibly human beings very far away from us in space and in time (future generations)? To answer that question, we need to begin by agreeing on the reference class of the sustainable development concept, i.e.
Table 1 shows the area of sustainable development dimensions as a function of the four identified objects and the development-sustainability pair. This approach centres on sustainability understood as a form of equilibrium in the development of each of these famous pillars. Although this outlook does not encourage the construction of synthetic cross-indices, it is not incompatible with the calculation of decoupling indicators nor with the use of sectoral synthetic indices, such as GDP in the economic domain. Positive saving is supposed to mean that current generations are not consuming an excessive share of the national product and are transmitting a sufficient productive heritage for future generations. As he constructs his theory of capabilities, Sen seeks to make possible an evaluation of “social arrangements”.
While the resource-based approach has given rise to a number of works mostly concerned with environmental indicators, the well-being approach has also been fertile in attempts to construct synthetic indices.
Becoming the primary focus, the concept is now used more generally to refer to any sort of public benefit from agriculture, thereby justifying the need for public support, as expressed by various stakeholders. This raises several other questions well discussed in the debate evolving around Ulrich Koester’s previous post.
Competition between such organisations for support from the general public and from the states would be much better, at least as I suggest, than compliance and set-aside based instruments. In terms of the CAP this would indeed be a radical policy innovation and substantial budget savings could be realised. You are right that this valuation issue is not new but we still do not have good solutions for public goods provision in agriculture – I think we agree that Commission proposals in this regard are not the best ones.
More specifically, it assesses the relative fruitfulness for indicators construction of the four most widespread conceptions of sustainable development, in terms of domains or pillars (economy, society, and environment), in terms of resources and productive assets (manufactured, natural, human and social capitals), in terms of human well-being (needs, capabilities) or in terms of norms (efficiency, fairness, prudence…).
For example, the concept of social status, operated by indicators such as length of schooling, level of education, income and type of job, is a mix of purely quantitative (income), semi-quantitative (level of education) and purely qualitative data (job).
Another method consists in attributing a 0 value (min) to the observation considered as the worst case and 1 (or 10 or 100) to the one corresponding to the best score (max). However, such manipulations are not recommended for social indicators, firstly because they distort to a certain extent the original distribution, but mainly because they lack transparency for a non-professional user.
In a multicriterion approach, although the entire matrix may not be considered, there will at least be consideration of a number of criteria greater than 1. On what basis and using what procedure should the decision be made, for example, to give the economic pillar a 45% weighting, 35% to the social pillar and 20% to the environmental one? As a result, once aboard, their only concern is how far they are from their point of arrival and how much time will be needed to get there.
Following this view, there is no common good except if it relates to the least conflictual of the possible specific concepts of good or of the good life9.
While in aggregative democracies (the market), preferences are a given and intangible, in deliberative democracies (the forum), they are designed and constructed through rational argumentation during the process of developing a general will.
Their primary objective is to inform the authorities (and only them) of the state of society.
The fate of the French Department of Statistics, the Bureau de Statistiques, is an example of the tension which can build up between the two approaches.
They can also be components of the collective definition of a common world (Callon et al, 2001), or even of a common good (goals to arrive at, standards to be maintained) and of the means to achieve it (measurement of well-being).
For Dewey, the public is what is constituted by the awareness of the fact that certain transactions or private activities can generate consequences which affect those who are external to those transactions.
We are of the opinion that indicators may acquire their full democratic legitimacy in the context of this social enquiry which is essential for the constitution of an appropriate public.
This explains why certain behaviours which were strictly confined to the private sphere are beginning to enter the public sphere. The last line of the table indicates the institutional level for which the approach described seems the most appropriate.
There is a real danger that, precisely because it is too consensual, it ends up ignoring the real demands of sustainable development and does not at all prepare us, despite appearances to the contrary, to taking on its challenges. Sen's theory bases well-being on the capacity to act (agency) and the satisfaction experienced (well-being), and distinguishes between capabilities and functionings; its philosophical context is very far from utilitarianism.
As a result, he extracts the theory of social choice out of the quagmire in which it was floundering since Arrow demonstrated that there was no mechanism for social choice satisfying simultaneously the requirements for rationality and democracy on which everyone could agree. Think for example of the IDH, the ISEW, the GPI, the MDP, and Sharpe and Osberg’s Index of Economic Welfare, etc (see box 1). In table 1, as an example and subject to confirmation, we have characterised the “development” dimension as respect for efficacy, participation and freedom standards.
However,“There is no “well-being theory” that can dispense with value judgments necessarily focused on the more or less desirable nature of one or the other state of society”. There is no reason to suppose that the same public goods policy should apply to Established and New Member States, still less for each and every region or farm. You will perhaps be surprised by the rigour of the analysis and the amount of data deployed. I have not thought that my idea can be used for direct payments as well but you are right, it might be applicable.
It concludes with a plea for the construction of synthetic indices able to compete with and complement the GNP as an indicator of development. Into what forms, more appropriate for decision-making, should the information be converted?
The other more recent source is to be found in the numerous movements for social reform and hygiene at the time of the industrial revolution. In other words, should people be considered poor if they do not have the minimum income to cover needs considered to be essential, or if they have considerably less income than other people? As a result, it is often necessary to bring down units and measurement scales to the most elementary and least demanding levels, with all that this implies in terms of loss of information.
But if there is no natural common unit such as currency, the different indicators have to be standardised.
Clearly, the choice of a method and the maximum and minimum boundaries used for standardisation are not without consequence as regards the interpretation and the use of indicators. The cascading weighting process is illustrated by the final weight of each indicator, which is the product of all the previous weights and its own. Wn, a set (which may be empty) of weightings of criteria C, such as:n ? Wi = 0 i = 1The decision consists in ordering the m alternatives on the basis, either of a single criterion made up of the aggregation of the n objectives (or criteria), or the different criteria plurally acquired (the multi-criteria approach), all of which serves to evidence the alternative which is the closest to the desired goal. Clearly, in the case of sustainable development indicators, this is a matter for collective decision, therefore of social choice, and it is in these terms that it must be considered.
Does this not suppose that the crucial question of possible substitutions between various kinds of assets has been solved? This information is in fact displayed on video screens where flight is symbolised by the picture of an airplane moving across a map. In such a context, social indicators would have but a small role to play in a situation where the members of a political system do not need them to verify that decisions taken by the people in charge are in their best interests.
Social indicators then have a much more important role to play, in so far as they can contribute to the construction of a common definition of the situation and to prior agreement on the facts. It is not, for that matter, by pure chance that the emergence of statistics came to be associated with the name of Machiavelli (Vole, 1980). It was created in 1796, as a division of the Interior Ministry and in 1800-1801 it completed a considerable body of work collecting data involving the use of questionnaires addressed to regional officials (Prefets), on the basis of which it published a large number of monographs on the state of the Nation. But in this respect he does not differ from those explicitly designated public officials who have also been known to betray the interest committed to them instead of faithfully representing it." (Dewey, 1927, p282) This language shows clearly that Dewey rejects an aggregative vision of democracy and is so much in favour of the deliberative perspective that he considers that using voting rights to serve personal interests is a perversion of democracy.
One example is the management of household waste in which Governments are taking an ever increasing interest by way of regulation, tax incentives, etc.Very obviously, we are far from being able to appreciate fully the indirect environmental and socio-political consequences of our production and consumption patterns.
Before examining briefly, each in turn, these various approaches, it must be specified that most of the indicator systems constructed within international institutions or countries15 are inspired by multiple paradigms. It is possibly considered to be a given and therefore included in economic growth together with certain social conditions (not too much unemployment, some degree of social security, etc.), certain environmental conditions (air and water quality, pollution, nuisances). They are inspired by the economic concept of elasticity and express the relation between two growth rates, for example those of household waste and household consumption.
It could almost be said that it smacks of climbing onto to the sustainable development bandwagon, particularly when we consider some of the business or political uses made of it, for example.
They are not an indication of the degree to which the demand for intergenerational equity is satisfied.
For that matter, Sen was the first recognized economist to propose a multidimensional vision of development focused, not on economic growth or an increase in monetary income but rather on an extension of the real freedom for people to achieve their goals. It is worth noting that, except for the ISEW, none of these indices attempt to include the sustainability dimension. In the “sustainability” box, we have put equity (both inter-and intragenerational), efficiency, resilience and prudence (prevention and precaution). In fact, once the requirement of double equity posited, other norms become rather superfluous.
Here are 10 foods that will prevent itStem cells treatment may regenerate damaged cells and prevent glaucomaDespise growing old? Moreover, without knowing the proper indicators and measurement methodology, the efficiency of the delivery of environmental public goods can hardly be evident.
I am pretty sure that a private solution is much better here than forcing state intervention.
At the start of the 19th century, philanthropists (often physicians or clergymen) were using statistical data on housing, living and working conditions, income, alcoholism, prisons, etc. A further point is that the regular or precarious nature of income matters more sometimes than the level of income at any particular time.
In the first case, the poverty threshold will be arrived at by calculating the amounts necessary to cover the needs considered to be essential, which will have to be previously defined. The main problem with this type of standardisation is the variability of the minimum and maximum boundaries. They have personal indicators they can use for that purpose: their income, their employment, their pension schemes, their environment, etc. Its overriding objective was to inform citizens and reinforce democracy, rather than satisfying administrative requirements11. In other words: "The public consists of all those who are affected by the indirect consequences of transactions to such an extent that it is deemed necessary to have those consequences systematically cared for". The public which is building up in relation to these issues still needs structuring; it must find a suitable political organisation for itself and seek out, with the help of this social enquiry process in which indicators of sustainable development are an essential cog, the information needed for action.
The inaugural definition in the Brundtland report refers to the "needs and aspirations" of present and future generations14. This concept of sustainable development is probably the one which is the closest to dominant political and ideological preconceptions, which explains its relative degree of acceptance in political and industrial circles in rich countries.
They are then the expression of an objective which consists in decoupling economic growth from the use of environmental resources, so that one point of economic growth corresponds to less than one point in the growth of environmental pressures. Attempting to reduce the issue of sustainability to the sole use of natural resources necessarily entails supposing that there is no possible substitute for these natural resources, or only within very narrow limits.
Furthermore, there is an assumption of perfect substitution between the three forms of capital under consideration: natural, produced (or manufactures) and human17. It is for the sake of equity that it is important to make the most efficient possible use of scarce resources, to adopt a prudent attitude and therefore to respect the principles of prevention and precaution so as to ensure the viability of systems, etc.
Questions arise as to who will evaluate (and on what basis) whether public money spent on the provision of public goods has led to the achievement of the policy’s aims or not.
In the second case, measuring the phenomenon will require to set a reference level (distribution mean or median), a spread compared to it (40%, 50%, 60%?) and the appropriate scale (household or individual?).
If a new observation spills over, either at the top or the bottom of the scale of observations up to that time, all the variables need to be re-standardised, failing which any new observation will be outside the range. Is it a sum, a product, or something more complicated?In practice, both questions usually come down to a dilemma between a simple and a weighted average. It is understood that certain aggregation conventions (called "non compensatory")can limit the risk of erroneous interpretation (see for example Bouyssou and Vansnick, 1986), but nevertheless current scientific knowledge cannot in itself justify any weighting structure applied to such different sectors. All its citizens do not have, a priori, the same destination and perhaps most of them do not even know where they are going. This was so true that Napoleon, whose sole concern was the availability of the information required for levying taxes and organising conscription, put an end to its activities in 1811. This is easily explained for both practical and theoretical reasons, as we shall see below.
Furthermore, it follows the disciplinary divisions of the scientific community (economics, social sciences, natural science), as well as the institutional divisions in so-called neo-corporatist16 democracies, where in more or less influential advisory councils, representatives of employers sit with representatives of the workforce and of environmental organisations. They are inspired partly by the logical framework to which development projects submitted for financing to international organisations such as the European Commission must conform. The team presented their findings at last month's American Chemical Society Meeting in San Diego. Going further, if we cannot measure the outcome, it is impossible for taxpayers to understand exactly what they are paying for. This paper presents a qualitative study exploring the process of decision making and the influences of obesity stigma.
In the following paper, we will be suggesting a few pointers to respond to these questions and some indications on the construction of appropriate information systems for sustainable development, i.e. In the United States, the first known use of social indicators for the purpose of social reform goes back to around 1810, with the production of statistical data for five consecutive years on the number of inmates awaiting trial in Philadelphia prisons (Cohen, 1982).
Take for example the Human Development Index: one of the three components is life expectancy at birth, the observed values of which are standardised with a lower boundary set at 25 years and an upper limit at 85.
Before even thinking about steering the social aircraft, its pilots must try to get everyone to agree on where they are headed.
The Bureau des Statistiques monographs were therefore an early kind of social reporting12 insofar as they aimed more at enriching political debate and informing civil society than contributing to the management of public affairs. And yet, as regards indicators, Agenda 21—as we saw in our introduction—only refers to systems. These representatives are identified respectively with the economic, social and environmental domains. Projects must meet requirements of efficacy (achieve the assigned goals), efficiency (do that at least cost) and viability (be lasting). Other surveys are well-known, such as those on poverty by Villerme (1782-1863) in France, Ducpetiaux (1804-1868) in Belgium and Booth (1840-1916) in the U.K.
What would be the result if instead of using 85 years as the upper limit we were to choose 80? It consists in attributing a weight, and therefore a specific value to the various dimensions of the concept. And yet, every decision, be it individual or collective, contains some arbitrary options, more often than not subconscious and implicit, such as choosing between today or tomorrow, us or them, economic growth or protecting the environment, employment or quality of life, etc. In fact, if we examine the various lists of sustainable development indicators, we are confronted with a bewildering diversity of approaches.


We have added participation and freedom for the development section; equity, prudence and resilience (that could possibly be replaced by viability) for the sustainability section. In the space available, it will not be possible to provide sufficiently detailed and qualified considerations of these issues, so that certain simplifications will have to be used, at the risk of painting with a broad brush at times. For instance, in the case of a poverty index, it could consist in giving more weight to the material dimension than to the social (isolation, exclusion) or cultural dimensions.Dimensions and indicators making up an index can be represented in the form of a tree diagram, the concept being the trunk of the tree and each branch representing one of the dimensions, with each branch breaking down into sub-branches ending up with the leaves representing the actual indicators.
In the realm of public policy, weighting is therefore in the last analysis, the reflection or the echo of the relative power of the various social groups. The placing of freedom and participation in the “development” box is justified, we believe, by Sen’s analyses of development and by all the work which is part of an ethic of development (Gasper, 2004).
For example, the subject of the various user groups will be dealt with in a voluntarily reductive fashion, based on the following question "Indicators for whom: governments or citizens?" The question on the more or less usable forms will be limited to asking "scoreboard or synthetic indices?". At each branching out, a weighting can be attributed to the branches arising there, with at the end the leaves to which is attached a weight equal to the product of the coefficients of the sub-branches and the branches from which they arise. But the requirements of sustainable development in fact imply an evaluation of these arbitrary choices, in the context of democratic debate and in the light of ethical and scientific criteria.
Its importance for sustainable development was recognised as early as the Rio Conference and it is referred to on several occasions in Agenda 21.
Get Daily Slideshow newsletterDaily Slideshow Newsletter is the way to get the best picture shows of the day in your inbox.Subscribe nowSLIDESHOW HOMETECH LIFE SLIDESHOW HOMEREPLAYDid you like "These websites are worth their weight in gold" slideshow? But when you stack up what needs to be done to make it effective, the challenge becomes intimidating: it needs to be soluble so it can be swallowed, it needs to work quickly and it can't be allowed to diminish libido. Findings: Decision making is difficult in the context of on-going mixed feelings over a long time.
And the question of sectors involved in sustainable development will be reduced to a comparison between four major approaches to the actual object of sustainable development. And it is precisely because it forces us to put on the political agenda an evaluation of these choices and weights, which are the components of life in society, that constructing synthetic indices for sustainable development is necessary. It needs to be safe to take for decades and it also needs to be reversible, with no lingering ill effects on sperm or embryos.
Thoughts and feelings become ingrained with habits and it is hard to separate out what is needed to think through a good decision.
Contrary to what a strictly logical sequence would require, we will begin with a discussion of the issue "scoreboard or Synthetic Index" because it necessarily takes us along a preliminary exploration of certain definitions which are essential for an understanding of what follows. It is only through democratic debate between randomly selected citizens independent of any pressure group, that abides by proven procedures in mechanisms such as citizen juries, planning units and hybrid forums (Callon, Lascoumes et Barthe, 2001), that real collective intent can be expressed. Thinking about weight brings a large volume of thoughts and feelings and apparent options or action choices. Existing consultative bodies are, from this point of view, the worst of all solutions, as J.-J.
The volume of thoughts makes decisions difficult but, in the context of obesity stigma, many of the thoughts are negative. As a consequence, the more or less arbitrary nature of the choice of min and max values, even in the case of empirical standardisation6, pleads in favour of the adoption of a normative approach and therefore for maximum values to be chosen so that they effectively correspond to the goals to be arrived at. A variable sensitivity to these stigma-related thoughts adds further ambivalence and inhibition for taking decisions.
The need for further thinking does not stand out in the context of the emotional resolving of thoughts about personal responsibility arising from obesity stigma.
Conclusions: Obesity stigma contributes to a deeper ambivalence in the decision process and hence difficulty in decision making about weight management. Decision aid interventions and training of health care staff in communication skills for shared decision making are needed. For example, a change added a polar group to a molecule, which made the test compounds more soluble. Another replaced an amide bond with a different bond that mimics amide, improving the test compounds' stability (which means it lasts longer in the body).
The end game is to refine the chemical structures to achieve a balance of solubility, specificity and stability.
Researchers have long played around with hormones such as testosterone to create a male contraceptive, but to no avail. INTRODUCTION Obesity is a leading public health problem in many parts of the world affecting hundreds of millions of people [1]. In countries at the forefront of the pandemic a third or more of adults may soon have sufficient excess body fat to be at risk of health problems [2]. Among strategies to tackle obesity many health systems are investing in weight management interventions [3-8]. Clinical guidelines condensing the complex evidence in this field set out a range of dietary, physical activity, behavioral and psychological, interventions as a first step to help patients with weight loss [5-8]. Various mixes of all these elements are recommended, labeled broadly as behavioral and lifestyle interventions. However, healthy weight maintenance is difficult even with intensive and sustained lifestyle intervention input [9,10]. For many adults obesity becomes a long term condition requiring sustained motivation and engagement for successful management [11]. Even among health professionals weight problems are perceived as a matter of a failure of personal effort in the face of simple lifestyle choices [14-16]. These views along with a range of deep rooted negative stereotypes are understood as a facet of the particular stigma attached to obesity [14]. Stigma is the phenomenon in which societal evaluations negatively impact on individuals’ sense of identity and self-presentation in social interactions [15].
In many societies obesity brings a strongly devalued physical and moral identity, creating challenges for those affected by obesity in managing their identity and in presenting themselves in social interaction. Obesity stigma has general consequences in many spheres of life for affected individuals, including decision making about weight management interventions. Many adults do not take up lifestyle interventions even after apparently deciding to do so, or if enrolled, drop-out after a short time.
Whilst this problem can be viewed from various perspectives, it is usually seen as one of personal motivation within interventions. Certainly the main thrust of clinical guidelines is on individual psychological theories of readiness to change and beliefs, attitudes and motivations in relation to health. Less attention is given to the decision making process prior to the intervention or to the impact of obesity stigma. This paper presents a qualitative study aiming to explore the process of decision making and the influences on this of aspects of obesity stigma.
Design and Recruitment The study employed a pragmatic qualitative methodology, now established in health research [18-21], aiming to illuminate the experiences and perceptions of people with obesity in relation to our research questions.
Following UK National Health Service (NHS) Ethics approval participants were recruited from a pool of respondents to a regional postal survey about weight and health in 2012 [22].
A total of 758 adults were added to a new sampling frame and stratified to gender and to socio-economic status.
Stratification was employed because previous qualitative research in this field is heavily biased towards women rather than men and to those from more affluent backgrounds [23]. Potential participants were then randomly selected with attention to an even representation of gender and social backgrounds.
An invitation to participate in an interview was sent to 128 individuals initially, about half responded expressing interest, and over a period of six weeks 52 volunteers completed interviews.
A judgment was reached that data saturation had been achieved and no further recruitment was attempted. Data Collection The interview guide, with illustrative examples of questioning probes, is shown in Box 1.
Excluding preliminary opening dialogue oriented to establishing a good rapport the interviews ranged between 10 - 40 minutes with a mean of just under 20 minutes. There were no significant differences in interview length between the different groups of participants. A telephone, rather than face-to-face, interview meant it was easier to include more people and with more varied backgrounds than is typical in this type of study [23].
It also eliminated the potential, but unknown, effects of interviewer body size on data collection that might arise from face to face interaction. In comparison to face to face interviews the exchanges were more focused and faster paced leading to a shorter interview time for comparable data but no inhibition apparent in discussing personal experiences. RESULTS All participants could recall actions to manage weight at some time as an adult; half of participants were currently or recently (last 6 months) actively trying to lose weight. Actions around foods and diet were most frequently talked about but also actions for more physical activity. A very few reported taking medicines or meal supplements or of being under recent care for surgery.
Quotations are followed by abbreviations to provide the gender (M = male, F = female), social background (U = upper income group, L = lower income group) with interview identifier and followed by the participant’s age in years.
However, it should be emphasized that this was not a thorough cognitive process but more about reaching an emotional resolution in response to thoughts about personal responsibility.
The heightening of these kind of thoughts arise from the particular stigma linked to obesity. Their perception was of an on-going nagging of the self not a new event requiring a decision.
Indeed some struggled with the concept of a decision as such and the implication that they may have consciously thought through what to do. The sense was more of general feelings arising that it was necessary to do something but not of deciding what to do. Um but to be honest um it no I haven’t I’ve had sporadic kind of you know just cut down a bit on this and that but no specific plans as such. An emotional response rather than a cognitive decision based on evaluation of salient information.
It appears that as weight is bound into identity and habits over a long period it is harder to recognize the thinking required to decide what to do. Right Frame of Mind The “right frame of mind” was mentioned by many participants as a notable feature in their decision process. The concept was of reaching an emotional state (more feelings than thoughts) of acceptance of the personal responsibility involved for weight management.
Note, though, in the quotes below, how this “right frame of mind” has a social relational dimension— for example, “you’re an individual” and “you may get pressure from some quarters, especially medical quarters”. Influence of Obesity Stigma The presentation now focuses more directly on the effects of obesity stigma on participants’ thoughts in relation to decisions about weight management. Most participants were more or less conscious of being influenced by wider cultural norms about body size, social roles and obesity.
Generally this was the expectation that a slim build was approved and to be overweight was not acceptable.
The influence on thoughts, for example, as to what is appropriate for a man or woman of my age and with my kind of responsibilities or job to be doing about their weight.
Within these quotes are a range of negative stereotypes and associations, including greed and laziness, and apparent impact on emotional states, including shame, depression and embarrassment. For a few participants such stigma related thoughts provided a stimulus to make change and were seen as an acceptable social pressure.
More typically, though, they were not viewed as helpful and were seen as being counter-productive for thinking clearly about health actions. Some participants were more sensitive to obesity stigma and found it upsetting and inhibiting. In general it added to ambivalence and difficulties in deciding what to do about weight control. Study Summary The study was successful in collecting rich qualitative data from men and women from different socio-economic backgrounds but, it should be noted, two thirds of the sample comprised adults aged 40 - 65 years. The study contributes to a deeper understanding of why decisions about weight management can be difficult and how they might be improved.
It provides a potentially generalizable theory of relationships between phenomena salient to weight management; it does not provide a representative quantification of the issues identified. The findings are transferable, therefore, as qualitative research, to other contexts in which adults are taking decisions about weight control within cultures in which obesity is stigmatized. This is typical of obesity as a long term chronic condition lacking a simple management intervention. Second, decision making is difficult because the need for “thinking through” does not stand out in the context of the emotional resolving of thoughts about personal responsibility. Third, for many people, thinking about weight brings a large volume of thoughts and feelings and apparent options or action choices. Simply the volume of thoughts makes decisions difficult but, particularly in the context of obesity stigma, many of the thoughts and feelings are very negative. Fourth, there is a variable sensitivity to obesity stigma thoughts that can add further ambivalence and inhibition for taking decisions. These models are especially pertinent because they are widely included in the training of health professionals and in clinical guidelines [5-8]. Broadly, as applied to obesity, the model suggests people would begin by not seeing weight as a problem (Pre-contemplation).
They would then move on to become aware of it as a problem (Contemplation) and move on to take action for change that may or may not be maintained. Rather the typical picture is of on-going fluctuating levels of ambivalence punctuated by triggers and contexts that heighten awareness of weight thoughts. Furthermore, the relational psycho-social concept of stigma is difficult to fit within this individual readiness model.
For example, the “Theory of Planned Behavior” highlights the importance of beliefs about consequences of actions, about expectations of what others may think and about perceptions of the control we have over actions [38]. A number of personal, demographic and environmental background factors are seen to influence these beliefs. Our findings fit this model better but nevertheless draw attention to factors, important for obesity, that are not sufficiently apparent within a generic psychological beliefs model. First, our findings highlight the difficulties of disentangling beliefs from identity, on-going habits and experiences in relation to weight and body size. Second, our findings highlight the distinct psychosocial pressures associated with body size and obesity stigma. Social interactions are shot through with its effects, including situations of taking decisions about weight management. Stigma happens without awareness or attention from individuals to influence thoughts about weight management, making the decision making more difficult.
This is of greater significance when set against evidence that sensitivity to obesity stigma is heightened for many individuals during clinical consultations [14,15, 40]. The attitudes of doctors and nurses with respect to obesity have been studied in many countries [16,41]. An overall conclusion is that the attitudes of these professionals reflect the weight biases and stereotypes of the populations they are drawn from [15]. Studies of patient perceptions indicate that this is a problem for patients who expect more sensitive treatment [23-25,40,42-44]. In the context of a consultation about weight therefore, obesity stigma has potential to undermine the relationship with the clinician as well as potentially heightening the decision making difficulty for the patient [45,46]. This may be a factor in the apparent high drop out for patients referred into weight management interventions [17,47].
Practical interventions that address these issues are built around improving communication and rapport between patients and health professionals with decision aids as a facilitating tool [50-52].
Decisions about weight control could be improved with attention to each of these general points.
Awareness of the need for a further thought process is lost within the emotional resolving of ambivalent feelings about weight, size and personal responsibility.
Furthermore, sensitivity to obesity stigma influences decision making with potential for biased evaluations and paradoxical inhibitions as regards good decision making. Finally, the amount of information and clear thinking necessary to arrive at a good decision about weight management is demanding. A decision aid that supports patients with decisions about weight management would be useful.
It also has potential to foster the rapport, relationship and concordance with the clinician—all of which may be undermined otherwise. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We thank members of the user involvement group who advised on the study protocol.
Ethical permission to conduct the study was received from Leeds East Local Research Ethics Committee. This study was in receipt of funding from the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care for South Yorkshire (CLAHRC SY). The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.



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