Sustainable development indicators (SDIs) are one of the most frequently used tools to assess sustainable development from an international to a local scale, supporting evaluation and reporting purposes. Indicators can also be particularly useful in addressing the growing need for interaction at regional and local scale in sustainability initiatives and assuring that regional assessments reflect community values, concerns and hopes. The main goal of this research is to develop a conceptual framework for common local sustainability indicators within a regional context, one that is supported by a participative approach and allows interaction between local and regional scales. Other major goals were to design the regional profile on local SDI initiatives and develop a set of common local indicators for the Algarve region - the most southerly region of Portugal. The framework is mainly supported on common strategic goals, objectives, targets, features and resources and on the existing regional and local SDI sets. A regional survey involving all municipalities was conducted to obtain data on local SDI initiatives and the regional profile was defined. By testing the framework in the Algarve, a proposed set of common local indicators was developed and presented in the survey for local authority evaluation. The main findings reveal that, despite the fact that there are still few local SDI initiatives in the Algarve region, the majority of municipalities surveyed fully agree on the importance of developing a minimum common local indicator set for the region. The role and usefulness of the proposed framework were demonstrated in the selection of 20 common local indicators for local-regional scale interaction in the Algarve. Establishing a set of common indicators on a local spatial scale can contribute to providing a coherent assessment framework, by preventing the duplication of effort, allowing local sustainability benchmarking and enhancing the analyses of asymmetries within a region. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.