Sustainable Development Indicator (SDI) Group
SDI Inventory, Organized by Issue
Working Draft, Version 3, October 8, 1996
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Economic Performance

Definition: Those issues dealing with the amount and value of money, wealth, debt, and investment

Economic Performance Issues:

Economic Productivity: Changes in economic activity and the expansion of overall wealth

Economic Satellite Accounts: Integrating the valuation of environmental resources into the national economic accounting system

Economic Well Being: Changes in the relative economic status of individuals

Environmentally Dependent Industry: Industries that depend upon the proper functioning and productivity of specific ecosystems

Global Economy: The effects of the global economy on the United States

Labor Time Productivity: Changes in the productivity of the individual

National Debt: Debt accumulation for the United States

Trade Deficit: Differences between national imports and exports

Unemployment: Unutilized or underutilized labor


Definition: Those issues dealing with the infrastructure to provide social services, such as education, health, transportation, etc.

Infrastructure Issues:

Capital Investment: Investment in public and private infrastructure to maintain sufficient capacity, research and development, technology innovation

Justice: The ability of the legal system to quickly and fairly prosecute criminals and dispense justice

Poor Sanitation: Lack of sewage disposal or other measures designed to protect public health

Public Infrastructure: Adequate physical and social infrastructure for the efficient functioning of society.

Runaway Litigation: Increase in lawsuit number, frequency, and damages within the United States Court System


Definition: The lack of means for individuals to provide for their material needs or comforts; inequitable geographic or social distribution of wealth, income, or material goods (actual or perceived)

Poverty Issues:

Income Equity: Fair and impartial distribution of income and access to natural resources regardless of economic or social status

Personal Wealth: Savings and debt accumulation for individuals

Welfare: Dependency on the public dole for sufficient food, shelter, and material needs


Definition: Those issues dealing with production of goods and services

Production Issues:

Energy Efficiency: Optimal use of energy resources during economic production and consumption of goods and services

Erosion: The loss of soil or productive capacity due to erosion

Food Production Capacity: The land, ability, resources, and infrastructure to produce and distribute food

Materials Consumption: The consumption of raw materials during the production of economic goods

Over Irrigation: The buildup of salts and minerals in agricultural land due to excess water during irrigation

Pesticide Use: Runoff of pesticides and related chemicals due to excessive use in agricultural land

Production Efficiency: Inefficient use of energy and raw materials during economic production of goods and services

Renewable Energy : The use of renewable energy resources (non-fossil and non-nuclear) during economic production and consumption of goods and services


Definition: Those issues dealing with the production, handling, and disposal of man-made wastes

Waste Issues:

Hazardous Waste Production: The production of waste products

Nuclear Waste: The production of radioactive waste

Waste Handling: The collection, storage, treatment, and disposal of all man-made waste products, including nuclear waste.


Definition: Those issues dealing with the distribution and variety of biological forms and systems

Biodiversity Issues:

Changing Biodiversity: Undesirable changes in the variety of biota, and ecosystems

Ecosystem Health: Decline in the overall health of ecosystems

Exotic Species: Introduction of non-native species into an ecosystem

Genetic Diversity: Undesirable changes in the genetic variety within specific species or for ecosystems as a whole

Habitat Change: The conversion of one type of ecosystem to another; habitat destruction; the alteration of a specific characteristics of an ecosystem

Species Extinction: The complete elimination of species


Definition: Those issues dealing with changing climate

Climate Issues:

Desertification: The conversion of ecosystems into barren land

Drought: The decline in rainfall and water resources

Global Climate Change: The United States contribution to large scale changes to the global climate

Stratospheric Ozone Depletion: Depletion of stratospheric ozone

Environment Quality

Definition: Those issues dealing with changes in the environment

Environment Quality Issues:

Acidification: Buildup of excess sulfuric and nitric acids into soils, waters, and air

Air Quality: Buildup of pollutants in air

Contamination of Biota : Buildup of pollutants, toxins, and heavy metals in biota

Contamination of Soil: Buildup of pollutants, toxins, and heavy metals in soil

Contamination of Water: Buildup of pollutants, toxins, and heavy metals in water and sediments

Environmental Technology: Development of environmentally safe or benign technology

Eutrophication: Buildup of nutrients in water

Man-Made Disasters: Destruction of public and private infrastructure and property by man-made disasters disasters

Natural Disasters: Destruction of public and private infrastructure and property by floods, storms, earthquakes, and other natural disasters

Toxic Chemical Releases: Release of pollutants, toxins, and heavy metals into water, air, or soil

Water Quality: Buildup of pollutants, toxins, and heavy metals in water

Land Use

Definition: Those issues dealing with how society uses the land

Land Use Issues:

Arable Land: Adequate land suitable for agriculture

Deforestation: Loss of forest land due to logging, disease, or infestation

Outdoor Recreational Services: Sufficient recreational land, including within urban ecosystems

Traffic Congestion: Insufficient transportation infrastructure to handle traffic volume

Urban Decay: Decline in the economic and social resource base for specific areas within the urban ecosystem

Urbanization: Conversion of land to urban land


Definition: Those issues dealing with the extraction, use, or consumption of natural resources

Resource Issues:

Declining Fisheries: Changes in the stocks and productive capacity of estuarine and marine fisheries

Energy Resources: Changes in the stocks and use of energy resources, such as coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric reserves.

Mineral Reserves: Changes in the stocks and use of metal and mineral reserves

Renewable Resources: Changes in the stocks or productive capacities of renewable resource reserves

Soil Quality: Changes in the productive capacity of soil

Water Resources: Changes in the stock, capacity, or use of water resources


Definition: Those issues related to the access, level, and quality of schooling, training, information, or knowledge

Education Issues:

Education Equity: Fair and impartial access to education regardless of economic or social status

Education Infrastructure: Systematic provision of a society for the transmission of knowledge, information, and technologies

Education Quality: The amount or quality of knowledge, information, and and skills acquired by the individual

Information Access: Fair and impartial access to information regardless of economic or social status


Definition: Those issues dealing with distribution of wealth, services, or burdens between socioeconomic groups within the population

Equity Issues:

Environmental Equity: Fair and impartial access to clean air, water, and soil regardless of economic or social status

Gender Equity: Fairness or lack thereof related directly to sexual identification

Homelessness: The lack of a place to reside; lack of a refuge

Housing: Fair and impartial access to adequate shelter regardless of economic or social status

Inter-Generation Equity: The inequitable investment and support of older generations more than younger generations

Social Discrimination: Unfair or partial treatment of one socioeconomic group by another

Social Equity: Fair and impartial access to social or public services regardless of economic or social status


Definition: Those issues dealing with defining, or implementing government policy, laws, and agreements.

Government Issues:

Conservation: The protection of land from damage, development, or destruction

Environmental Protection : Sufficient laws and regulations to ensure protection of the environment

Freedom: Individual freedom of choice movement, speech, etc.

Government Effectiveness: The inclusiveness, responsiveness, and effectiveness (or lack thereof) of Federal, state, and local government processes, especially with regard to resolving sustainable development issues

International Cooperation: Joint agreements, programs, policies, and laws between the United States and other countries to address sustainable development

Nuclear and Genetic Safety: The integrity of government infrastructure to prevent nuclear accidents

Public Policy: Adequate infrastructure to define public policy with respect to sustainable development

Social Security: Depletion of government sponsored retirement benefits

Sustainable Development Education: Adequate education of the concepts involved in sustainable development

Sustainable Development Programs: The existence (or lack thereof) of local, state, and federal programs to promote sustainable development

Sustainable Development Spending: Adequate expenditures on research and development related to sustainable development


Definition: Those issues related to the access, level, and quality of medical care

Heath Issues:

Disease Eradication: The complete elimination of specific diseases, the unequal exposure to specific diseases by socioeconomic status

Health Care Equity: Fair and impartial access to physical and physiological health care regardless of economic or social status

Health Care Infrastructure: Systematic provision of a society for the optimal well-being of its members

Malnutrition: Poor nourishment resulting from an insufficient or poorly balanced diet

Population Health: The physical or physiological health of individual members of society


Definition: Those issues dealing with services, capacities, and capabilities of the individual

Individual Issues:

Drug Abuse: Unlawful, medically unsupervised, or excessive ingestion of medications or other chemicals. This includes Alcohol.

Recreation: Adequate refreshment of the mind or body after work through an amusing or stimulating activity; restoration of strength, spirits, or vitality


Definition: Those issues dealing with the total number of people

Population Issues:

Illegal Immigration: Unlawful entry into and settling in the United States

Population Shifts: Changes in patterns of migration, growth, distribution, and dispersal of people within the United States

Refugee Population: People displaced by social strife, war, oppression, or prosecution

Teen Pregnancy: Pregnancy, having a fetus in the uterus, in females aged thirteen to nineteen years

Unwanted Pregnancies: Carrying fetuses in the uterus that are unplanned or undesirable

Social Cohesion

Definition: Those issues dealing with relationships and interactions between individuals or groups within society

Social Cohesion Issues:

Alienation: A state of estrangement between a person and the objective world

Arms Reduction: The reduction or elimination of certain classes of weapons of war, specifically nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons

Crime: An increase in the acts committed or omitted in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it and for which punishment is imposed upon conviction; a serious moral offense; an unjust, senseless act

Family Domestic Violence: The physical or mental abuse of individuals, especially women and children, by another family member

Family Functioning: The reliability and dependability of human groups related by blood or marriage; unwanted changes in the traditional family structure (as defined by the local community)

Happiness: The experience (or lack thereof) of enjoyment or pleasure

Hopefulness: The wish for something with and expectation (or lack thereof) of its fulfillment

Humility: The dominance of the anthropomorphic or human centered point of view

Motivation: The incentive or willingness (or lack thereof) for action

Participation: The ability or willingness (or lack thereof) of people within a community to work or act together towards a common goal or mutual benefit; cooperation; community capacity, community building, volunteerism, "village"

Safety and security: Freedom from fear of victimization by crime, war, terrorism, or civil disturbance

Suicide: The purposeful taking of one's own life

Terrorism: Systematic use of violence, overwhelming fear or intimidation to achieve an end

Tolerance: Recognition of and respect for (or lack thereof) the opinions, practices, or behavior of others; willingness to accept and adapt to new ideas, beliefs, and practices; resistance to external stimuli or stress

Transformation and Adaptability: The ability or inability of an individual or society as a whole to change beliefs, behavior, and attitudes

Trust: Total confidence (or lack thereof) in the integrity, ability, and good character of another individual or organization

War: A state of open, armed, often prolonged conflict carried on between nations, states, or parties