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National indicator development

Why use indicators?

Biodiversity indicators are not only important at the global level, but at the national (and sub-national) level too. Indicators are an essential aspect of monitoring and reporting progress towards the achievement of national targets, such as those set in NBSAPs or sustainable development strategies. They are also important in facilitating adaptive management.

What is an indicator?

An indicator can be defined as a ‘measure based on verifiable data that conveys information about more than just itself’. This means that indicators are purpose dependent - the interpretation or meaning given to the data depends on the purpose or issue of concern.

What makes a 'successful' indicator?

Experience has shown a number of key factors in determining whether an identified indicator is taken up and produced over time:

  • Scientifically valid - a) there is an accepted theory of the relationship between the indicator and its purpose, with agreement that change in the indicator does indicate change in the issue of concern; b) the data used is reliable and verifiable.
  • Based on available data – so that the indicator can be produced regularly over time.
  • Responsive to change in the issue of interest.
  • Easily understandable – a) conceptually, how the measure relates to the purpose, b) in its presentation, and c) the interpretation of the data.
  • Relevant to users’ needs.
  • “Championed” by an institution responsible for the indicator’s continued production and communication.
  • Used - for measuring progress, early-warning of problems, understanding an issue, reporting, awareness-raising, etc.