There are many different kinds of frameworks for evaluating environmental and sustainability performance at the organizational level (profit or not-for-profit, private or public), sectoral level (e.g. industry, transport, agriculture and tourism), and local, regional or country levels. Despite the diversity of methods and tools to measure sustainable development, indicators are one of the approaches most used. However, these tools do not usually include evaluation of the performance measurement instrument itself. The main objective of this research is to develop a conceptual framework to design and assess the effectiveness of the sustainability indicators themselves. To put the proposed tool into practice, a set of key good-practice factors and meta-performance evaluation indicators is proposed for adoption in a national case study-the national sustainable development indicators system, SIDS Portugal, and the usefulness of this methodology is demonstrated. This approach aims to evaluate how appropriate a set of sustainability indicators is and allow an evaluation of overall performance-monitoring activities and results. Stakeholder involvement is an essential component of the proposed framework. The tool developed Could support continuous improvement in the performance of ongoing sustainability indicator initiatives, allowing greater guidance, objectivity and transparency in sustainability assessment processes. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.