Physical and economic indicators such as carbon emissions and gross domestic product (GDP) are frequently tracked in sustainability studies and monitoring programs, mainly because it’s comparatively easy to account for such numbers, said San Diego State University assistant professor of geography and study co-author Arielle Levine.
“For the most part, researchers and policymakers are trying to find things they can easily quantify,” Levine said. “Things that you can’t quantify easily—values, human agency, power, cultural context—often get lost in the process.”
The paper, led by Christina Hicks of Lancaster University, argues that researchers and policymakers need to engage with these key social concepts as well as science if fair and lasting changes to the environment are going to take hold.
The concepts identified are:
--agency (a sense of self-determination)
The authors argue that these concepts are critical to informing decision-making and shaping policies for a more sustainable future.In the Science article, the authors provide concrete examples of international data sets that can be used to monitor these trends, going beyond just identifying the concepts themselves.