Measuring Success: ICZM Indicators

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What are indicators?

“Indicators are quantitative/qualitative statements or measured/observed parameters that can be used to describe existing situations and measure changes or trends over time. Their three main functions are simplification, quantification and communication...Indicators generally simplify in order to quantify complex phenomena so that communication of information to policy-makers and other interested parties, including the general public, is enabled or enhanced…They are powerful tools in the feed- back loop to an action plan, as an early warning signal about an emerging issue, or in providing a concise message for engagement, education and awareness.” (A handbook for measuring the progress and outcomes of integrated coastal and ocean management. Manuals and Guides, 46; ICAM Dossier 2, IOC, UNESCO, 2006)

The indicators should therefore be:

  1. Clearly aligned with the objectives;
  2. Clearly linked to the output/outcome being monitored;
  3. Developed with stakeholders;
  4. Part of the management process and not an end in themselves.

Why indicators?

Effective monitoring and evaluation is an indispensable tool in the planning and implementation process. Indicators serve both as a corrective function during the ICZM Process cycle, enabling adjustments, as a guide to structuring implementation effectively, and as a communication tool. In preparing a strategy, plan or programme for a coastal area, a set of governance, environmental and socio-economic indicators that align with the objectives should be prepared to determine whether the interventions are successful.

The setting of indicators flows from the prior stages of the ICZM Process.

Relationship to objectives

The Matrix of Indicators will become a core of the strategy, plan or programme, quantifying the objectives and ultimately measuring implementation. Indicators will also play an important role in:

  • Evaluating options – providing a checklist to measure outcomes both positive and negative.
  • Measuring the implementation of the strategy, plan or programme.
  • Reconciling the long- and short-time horizons – measuring short-term outputs against long-term outcomes.

There should be three types of indicators:

  1. Sustainability Indicators: measures to show that the strategy, plan or programme purpose is realised - long-term outcomes.
  2. Impact Indicators: measures to show that the strategy, plan or programme outputs are achieved – medium-term outcomes.
  3. Performance Indicators: measures to show that activities are undertaken - short-term outcomes.

The identification and collecting of data for indicators can appear daunting. However, a simple, preliminary ranking of relative importance along with their relative ease of gathering will assist the allocation of resources to this task.

The diagram below from the CAMP Slovenia illustrates a simple matrix for ranking indicators according to both their importance and the practicality of gathering them.

Simple Indicator Matrix from CAMP Slovenia

Indicator Hierarchy – headline and specific indicators

Too many indicators will aggravate rather than help the process. A limited suite of indicators is required: headline indicators and specific indicators. The detailed specific indicators may be appropriate for a technical audience or for core and funding partners; but for a wider audience specific indicators may be meaningless and obfuscating.

A further refinement, therefore, will be to select a limited number of "Headline Indicators" to effectively report trends to a non-technical audience on Sustainability, Impact and Performance. These in turn should be presented in a way that quickly conveys a picture of progress. In many cases the indicator data are condensed into simple graphic forms such as emoticons (smiley faces), traffic lights or other images, ordinal ranking scores (1 = worst, 5 = best).

The prime function of Headline Indicators is communication - so, which are the best-understood indicators to convey the overall progress of the strategy, plan or programme? Which indicators will have an emotional resonance with the target audience?

Techniques & Tools

The example shown below is based on hypothetical socio-economic objectives. However, it should be kept in mind that the indicator description does not, at this stage, include the quantification measure (e.g. number of hectares, number of jobs, etc.) that would be required for each indicator as part of the final strategy, plan or programme.

Indicator Matrix.gif

(Adapted from: [1])

The complexity and number of indicators will vary according to the nature of the area and the resources available. They should, however, include governance, environmental and socio-economic indicators that align with the objectives.

See Also

This article has been drafted by PAP/RAC
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.

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  1. A Handbook for Measuring the progress and Outcomes of Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management. IOC Manuals and Guides, 46; ICAM Dossier, 2.IOC, UNESCO, 2006)