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Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000
How to use this report
This report contains 11 goals, shaped with extensive public input, which embody the highest aspirations of New Jerseyans from all walks of life.

Each goal is accompanied by indicators for measuring our progress: the critical trends that shape our future and our ability to reach these goals. Taken together, these goals and indicators enable us to clearly see these trends and how they affect our progress toward achieving sustainability in New Jersey.

The purpose of the indicators is to guide change in what we pay attention to as a community, in our personal priorities, in our collective decision-making and policy development, and in our individual and organizational behavior. For example, some of the indicator pages highlight quantitative targets that have been adopted by state agencies to guide actions in achieving the goals. In the future, we will need formal Sustainable State Project benchmarks for each indicator.

The goals and indicators also provide the basis for the upcoming companion report, Governing with the Future in Mind.

General knowledge about the trends that shape the future is certain to have some effect on our behavior. However, achieving the long-term prosperity toward which we aspire will require specific types of action. Where do you fit in?

Personal Lifestyle. Indicators can challenge us personally to explore how the way we live affects the world around us and how our individual decisions move these indicators in a positive or negative direction. They can help us better understand how each individual makes a difference and guide us in taking actions on our own and as a community.

Media. Newspapers and broadcasters can now be aware of and cover these long-term trends directly. Perhaps more importantly, the goals and especially the indicators provide a critical context to the reporting of news. They tell us the general conditions of our economy, environment, and society, and offer linkages among these interdependent systems. Are our economy, environment, and society getting stronger in meaningful, lasting ways? These indicators also can help answer the following important question: What is the significance of any given event to the current and future well-being of New Jerseyans?

Public Policy. For political debate to be meaningful, it needs to be grounded in facts, mutual understanding of long-term goals, and a common frame of reference. Candidate A accuses Candidate B of being soft on the environment. Candidate C makes claims about improving the economy. How can an informed citizenry evaluate these claims? This report will enable all New Jerseyans to see clearly how we are doing in the areas important to us.

Business and Economic Development. These indicators will provide leading information on the long-term direction of society and the role that the market and individual companies can play within it. The indicators can be used for market analysis and to spur the development of products and services that will advance our progress toward a more sustainable society. Perhaps most importantly, they can enable business leaders to see how their decisions will affect society as a whole, for better or worse.

Education. The indicators help to educate students about sustainability and promote an understanding of the systems that support us. The indicators and the associated knowledge gaps can also serve as a basis for needed research projects, such as devising a set of institutional indicators. The indicators can provide the context for applying lessons in every subject to everyday issues and to where students live.

The Civic Sector. Nonprofit and volunteer groups can link their work to the broader cause of creating a more sustainable society, and use the indicators to evaluate their efforts in a broader context. We all do good work. How can we all work well together to meet our common goals? Foundations and philanthropic organizations can use the indicators to help set their funding priorities as we move toward a common vision.

How we chose and refined the indicators

Indicators chosen for the 1999 Living with the Future in Mind report represent the

best collection of data available today for measuring our quality of life as we move toward sustainability. We particularly sought indicators that would highlight the interdependence of social, economic, and environmental systems.

In order to be included in this report, the data were required to:

be available on a statewide basis;
measure significant trends that affect our progress toward the sustainable state goals;
receive regular updates;
offer historic trends; and
be clearly and readily understood.

At the bottom of each goal and indicator page, we have identified knowledge gaps in our understanding of particular issues. These gaps point to the need for additional research and, in some cases, the creation of new indicators specifically designed to measure our progress toward sustainability.

The indicators, as they are presented in this current report, have been reviewed and updated by the Interagency Sustainable State Working Group with the most recent data available. For some, the language contained in the 1999 report has been refined and clarified. In some cases, additional data have resulted in a revised description of the trend for that particular indicator (Example: a trend that may have been depicted as "Increasing" last year may have flattened out somewhat so that the description is now "Little recent change"). In addition, wherever a quantitative target with a specific time frame has been adopted through a public process by a state agency for a particular indicator, that target is reflected. Due to a variety of reasons, including availability of funding, a number of indicators’ data have not been collected at regular intervals and therefore their graphs are unchanged. For data collected at irregular intervals, the results are depicted in bar rather than line graph format. Unless otherwise noted, those years that do not have a bar should be interpreted to indicate that data were neither collected nor available, and should not be read as "zero."

           Finally, if there is any major change in a particular indicator compared with the 1999 report (such as a change in methodology on how the data are presented), that change is also highlighted at the bottom of the page.

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Department of Environmental Protection
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