6. Chronological overview of the Gap Frame underlying process and methodology

There are several steps that have been taken when developing the Gap Frame. The chronological overview of the development process is summarized as follows:

Step 1: Compilation of the indicators and underlying measures of the three existing National Sustainability Typology (NST) frameworks, namely the Sustainable Development Goals the Agenda 21, the Swiss Cercle Indicateur, followed by a comparative analysis of these frameworks.

Step 2: A detailed review and analysis of relevant national sustainability frameworks, in particular those 12 covered in the NST assessment, with the purpose to identify further indicators to complement the three NST 3.0 frameworks. The result was a long-list of 200 indicators and 24 issues.

Step 3: An independent researcher compiled the data of the long-list for one sample country (Switzerland) for all 200 indicators across the 24 issues, differentiating between hard and soft data and establishing a first basis for a quantitative assessment and comparison of the data.

Step 4: A first expert peer review assessed the data, removing obvious overlaps and triaging data sources for quality and global availability, reducing the long-list to 160 indicators.

Step 5: A review of the data for statistical independence ensured that we are not measuring the same thing through similar indicators. This assessment reduced the indicators to 120 items.

Step 6: Using the country data of the Social Progress Index, a representative sample of 14 countries was selected covering all stages of development.

Step 7: A second expert peer review assessed the 120 indicators across this global sample and attempted a first balancing across the issues and categories, reduced the indicators to 90, and highlighted potential gaps.

Step 8:  One co-author collected the data for the 90 indicators and 14 countries from the previously established public data sources and calculated initial OECD and world values.

Step 9: The raw data were calibrated and adjusted, using standard statistical data reversal methods, in order to translate the various source data in order to develop a scale from 0-10 with 10 representing an ideal value.

Step 10: A third expert review verified and determined the ideal values for all indicators. Some indicators had to be rejected as there was no ideal value (example: there is no ideal value for the number of species in any given country), reducing the indicators to 73.

Step 11: The 73 indicator data points for the 14 countries were scaled against the ideal value (= 10) and the worst value in the sample (= 0).

Step 12: A fourth expert peer review approved the 69 indicators of the Beta Version against five validity criteria:

a) data comes from a reliable, publicly available, open source
b) data is available both in terms of historic and anticipated future values
c) data set is available at sufficient breadth, ideally beyond but at least covering the OECD
d) data within any issue combines indicators that are relevant for countries across all stages of development (least developed, developing and developed countries)
d) data allowed to be measured against an ideal value and generated no unintended misinterpretation of users.

Step 13: A white paper was written analyzing and contextualizing the data sample of the Beta Version. It was shared with a larger group of experts who had knowledge in the many specific dimensions of the involved themes. These experts reviewed and commented the data, methodology, interdependencies, overlaps, assumptions, intentions and ambitions in a 6 months process.

Expert Panel (17 detailed reviews)

Andreas Hauser (Swiss Federal Office of the Environment & Nature FOEN), Mathis Wackernagel (Global Footprint Network), André Schneider, Bruno Oberle, Lorenzo Massa and Albert Merino-Saum (EPFL Switzerland), Mathias Binswanger (FHNW Switzerland), Mark Halle und Laslo Pinter (IISD), Sally Jeanrenaud (University of Exeter, UK), Basil Bornemann (University of Basel), Thomas Dyllick (University of St. Gallen), Christian Kobler, Doris Hauser and Antoinette Hunziker-Ebneter (Forma Futura), Eckhard Plinke (Vescore), Alexander Barkawi (oikos Foundation)


Step 14: In parallel, the Gap Frame tool was prototyped in connection with the True Business Sustainability Typology (Dyllick &Muff, 2016) and tested in a sequence of work-shops with representatives from three different industries: food, energy, and banking.

Step 15: The Beta Version was entirely overhauled and improved in the following areas: a) the country total was replaced by a ranking of the lowest score to prevent weak sustainability thinking, b) the biodiversity indicator was developed bottom-up with the IUCN research center, c) the climate issue was replaced by a carbon quotient indicator that was developed internally based on existing data, d) the governance issues and indicators were entirely revised and restructured using an input, process, output logic , d) replacement and improvement of a variety of indicators and issues resulting in changed terminology, e) a systematic approach to the calibration of data in accordance with strict principles, f) the U.N. definition for regions of the world was selected for additional granularity of data. This resulted in the final list of 24 issues and 68 indicators. There are still a dozen indicators on the wish list for future data measurement (see Appendix 2).

Step 16: Data collection for 196 countries across the 68 indicators and data transformation, calibration and scaling on our 0-10 scale.

Step 17: Determination of a minimum amount of data to be included in the Gap Frame at the indicator, issue and dimension levels, resulting in solid data for 155 countries across all regions of the world.

Step 18: A fifth expert team review of the initial data analysis and conclusions based on the data set (current values only, no historic data collection completed yet) in preparation of the public launch of the framework. Identification of future needs for analysis in the area of systems thinking and interconnectivity of indicators and issues, both within and beyond the different dimensions.

A first upcoming large circle expert review of the Gap Frame is anticipated and planned for 2018, a year after the Gap Frame data was first compiled and made public. A bi-annual revision is envisaged with an updated Gap Frame and new data including trend analysis and systems analysis in 2019.