Sustainability at the local scale. Defining highly aggregated indices for assessing environmental performance. The province of Reggio Emilia (Italy) as a case study Academic Article


  • Environmental Management


  • In order to achieve improved sustainability, local authorities need to use tools that adequately describe and synthesize environmental information. This article illustrates a methodological approach that organizes a wide suite of environmental indicators into few aggregated indices, making use of correlation, principal component analysis, and fuzzy sets. Furthermore, a weighting system, which includes stakeholders' priorities and ambitions, is applied. As a case study, the described methodology is applied to the Reggio Emilia Province in Italy, by considering environmental information from 45 municipalities. Principal component analysis is used to condense an initial set of 19 indicators into 6 fundamental dimensions that highlight patterns of environmental conditions at the provincial scale. These dimensions are further aggregated in two indices of environmental performance through fuzzy sets. The simple form of these indices makes them particularly suitable for public communication, as they condensate a wide set of heterogeneous indicators. The main outcomes of the analysis and the potential applications of the method are discussed.

publication date

  • 2004-10-1


  • 34


  • Communication
  • Fuzzy sets
  • Principal component analysis
  • Sustainable development
  • analysis
  • communication
  • condensate
  • environmental conditions
  • environmental indicator
  • environmental information
  • environmental performance
  • index
  • indicator
  • local authority
  • method
  • methodology
  • municipality
  • need
  • principal component analysis
  • province
  • public
  • stakeholder
  • sustainability
  • tool use

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0364-152X

number of pages

  • 19

start page

  • 590

end page

  • 608