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Sustainable Development - Measuring Progress

How to measure progress towards sustainable development in 21st century

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Are we measuring the right things to assess progress? The traditional measure for assessing economic development has been Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but a broader set of indicators that take into account the environmental and social aspects of progress have been developed to understand development.

21st century enlightenment involves a rational society in which all human beings can flourish and indicators can be powerful tools that support the measurement of social progress and are integral to the development of sound sustainable development goals and policies. They can help assess the extent to which communities, cities, and countries are making progress and whether specific policy objectives are been fulfilled.

Appropriate indicators establish baseline conditions and trends, which help provide a basis for identifying strengths and weaknesses to evaluate the longer-term implications of current decisions and behaviors. They can also be used to illustrate to policy makers and the wider public the connections and trade offs between economic, environmental, and social values; and help global governments understand where necessary adjustments are needed. This course provides an overview of the different indicators across a range of disciplines and explores the local, national, and multi-lateral frameworks currently in place and in development.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify existing indicators and understand the evolutionary history of how indicators have evolved overtime into more sustainable development measures, the different disciplinary approaches utilized by experts, and how these indicators continue to progress;
  • Assess how different criteria indicators and frameworks relate or not to one another within a global context;
  • Evaluate how indicators are able to support sustainable development goals, and where there are limitations and challenges;
  • Make linkages between sustainable development metrics and the public policy environment and explain where measurements have been effective in influencing Government strategy.


Your Instructor


Azadeh Ardakani
Azadeh Ardakani

Azadeh Ardakani is a systems focused sustainability professional with over ten years of global project management experience. Azadeh started her sustainability career in 2008 as a campaign manager for a Climate Change awareness campaign, which launched in Times Square, New York. Most recently, she was a senior corporate campaigner for a global forest conservation NGO, where she led efforts for the CEO Club campaign and secured endorsements from globally renowned scientists for a resource tool designed to support industry leaders.

In 2016, Azadeh was Program Manager of a Sustainability and Business Conference in Canada, which entailed program development and speaker bookings for 40 sessions and 200 speakers. In New York, Azadeh was Senior Manager of a multi-dimensional advisory services consultancy firm for global clients. She led the delivery of the 2014 International Monetary Fund Sustainability Report and Responsible Competitiveness Awards Program for King Khalid Foundation.

In 2015, Azadeh secured key corporate leaders for Innovation Forum’s ‘How Business Can Tackle Deforestation' conference in Washington, DC. In London, Azadeh was an associate at a think tank consultancy and co-advised Wikirates, a consortium project funded by the European Commission. Her role involved co-delivering a white paper on leading trends and co-facilitating a multi-stakeholder forum on crowdsourcing sustainability information. She has her Masters of Science in Corporate Social Responsibility from Nottingham University Business School. Azadeh was an expert contributor to a chapter within The World Guide to Sustainable Enterprise book and has self published an arts and photography book featuring the responsible challenges of the 21st century.


Class Curriculum



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Frequently Asked Questions


When does the course start and finish?
If you purchase the Lite version, it is completely self-paced and so you decide when you start, when you end and how long you take. If you purchase the Immersive or Academic versions, you take the course with other students and a Course Facilitator. For these versions, there are three starts per year - the beginning of January, May and September.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.