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Sustainability indicators are an important management tool used to realize and sustain the desired state of coastal zones. They simplify, quantify, analyze, and communicate the complexity of coastal zones. However, because of such simplification, indicator selection needs to consider two primary issues, namely, the causal relationships between indicators and other components of the coastal zones as a complex social-ecological system, and the contribution of the selected indicators to management goals (e.g., sustainable coastal zones). Since the root cause of these issues is the “systemness” of coastal zones, which is difficult to capture with indicators, this study applied Causal Loop Diagrams (CLD) as a type of systems approach as a solution; As a case study, the sustainability indicators set in the action plan for Omura Bay, Western Japan, were translated into a CLD. The plan was aimed at realizing and sustaining “Satoumi,” a Japanese concept of desirable socio-ecological production landscapes. This study showed that the CLD 1) helped indicator selection by assessing current indicators and identifying those missing with regards to their contributions to Satoumi, and 2) identified research priorities to verify hypothetical relationships that lack hard data.
This article was presented at the 15th Congress of the International Society for Ecological Economics held in Mexico on 12th of Sept, 2018. The article is scheduled to be submitted for the conference proceedings.