r3.0 is collaborating with the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) on its four-year Sustainable Development Performance Indicators Project (2018-2022). Specifically, r3.0 is conducting research and writing reports proposing a Three Tiered Typology of Sustainable Development Performance Indicators. The UNRISD report builds on the foundation of the r3.0 Data Blueprint, which integrates seminal work by Dana Meadows as well as core concepts from r3.0 Advocation Partner Mark McElroy. One such key concept is the Sustainability Quotient, where Sustainability = Actual Impacts / Normative Impacts (S = A / N).


This formula forms the basis of the Three Tiered Typology: 

Tier One: Incrementalist Numeration

Numerator indicators focus on actual impacts, including absolute indicators, as well as relative or intensity indicators that are non-normative, and therefore incrementalist by definition.

Tier Two: Contextualized Denomination

Denominator indicators contextualize actual impacts against normative impacts. Also known as “Context-Based” indicators, denominator indicators take into account sustainability thresholds in ecological, social, and economic systems, as well as allocations of those thresholds to organizations and other entities.

Tier Three: Activating Transformation

Transformative indicators add the element of implementation and policy to normative denominator indicators to instantiate change within complex adaptive systems.

UNRISD Sustainable Development Performance Indicators Project can you find here.

UNRISD convened a Conference in June 2019 in Geneva gathering diverse experts to explore the question encapsulated in the Conference Title: Measuring and Reporting Sustainability Performance: Are Corporations and SSE Organizations Meeting the SDG Challenge? The Program included a keynote by Global Reporting Initiative Co-Founder (and r3.0 Ambassador) Allen White that referenced the concepts covered in the r3.0 report (see the Conference Twitter feed at #Reporting4Sustainability for a detailed narrative of the Conference as it unfolded).   r3.0 Senior Director Bill Baue presented on the Three-Tiered Typology — his deck included a long appendix that includes many of the issues covered in the first report, which is due out in Fall 2019. He is now writing a second report proposing specific Tier Two Indicators based on the Tier One Indicators introduced in a recent UNCTAD report.

Additional Resources:

Conference Page

Conference Program

Conference Twitter Feed:  #Reporting4Sustainability

Bill’s Conference Deck

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