Section 1. Introduction

The Puget Sound Partnership is charged with identifying actions to protect and restore Puget Sound, and assessing the effectiveness of those actions. As part of its effort to fulfill these charges, the Partnership will identify indicators to monitor the ecological and human systems within the Puget Sound region. These indicators will help inform decision makers and the public about the health of Puget Sound.

In creating the Partnership, the Washington State Legislature identified six goals (State of Washington, 2007):

  1. A healthy human population supported by a healthy Puget Sound that is not threatened by changes in the ecosystem;
  2. A quality of human life that is sustained by a functioning Puget Sound ecosystem;
  3. Healthy and sustaining populations of native species in Puget Sound, including a robust food web;
  4. A healthy Puget Sound where freshwater, estuary, nearshore, marine, and upland habitats are protected, restored, and sustained;
  5. An ecosystem that is supported by ground water levels as well as river and stream flow levels sufficient to sustain people, fish, and wildlife, and the natural functions of the environment;
  6. Fresh and marine waters and sediments of a sufficient quality so that the waters in the region are safe for drinking, swimming, shellfish harvest and consumption, and other human uses and enjoyment, and are not harmful to the native marine mammals, fish, birds, and shellfish of the region.

The first two goals explicitly reference human well-being while the other goals have less direct references or can be indirectly connected to human well-being. Indicators that assess human well-being will therefore be needed to assess the effectiveness of any actions recommended by the Partnership in their Action Agenda (Puget Sound Partnership, 2008).

The use of indicators to track human well-being in previous ecosystem-based management efforts, however, is not common. Indicators connected to human well-being are most often used to measure the effects of social or economic policies and compare these effects across groups. Their use has therefore mostly focused on identifying and using a small set of indicators that covers a particular social or economic system (e.g.., housing or education) affected by the policy. Less common is their use when policy is primarily assessed first in terms of changes in ecological conditions and then only subsequently, if at all, in terms of changes in human conditions.

This report provides a framework for identifying, evaluating, and selecting indicators that track human well-being in the context of ecosystem-based management (EBM). It begins with a discussion of how human well-being can be integrated into EBM and used (in principle) as an over-arching metric by which to evaluate the effectiveness and impacts of management actions. We then give a brief overview of the concept of human well-being, a term that is difficult to define precisely, and discuss the nature of HWB indicators. The following section discusses methods for measuring human well-being and for assessing the links between changes in ecological conditions and changes in human well-being. Finally, the report outlines a framework for cataloging data and empirical studies, and for evaluating the nature and strengths of these links, in a manner that can assist the Puget Sound Partnership in its task of identifying and evaluating potential human well-being and other indicators.





Puget Sound Partnership. 2008. Puget Sound Action Agenda, Protecting and Restoring the Puget Sound Ecosystem by 2020. Olympia, WA.

State of Washington. 2007. 60th Legislature, Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5372, as Amended by the House.