The coherency of research, development, and innovation processes are vital in promoting a more resource efficient society. Sustainability-oriented innovation systems define specific kinds of innovation systems, i.e. those that are directed to the aims of sustainable development. This paper develops an integrated method with four layers of analysis to evaluate the priorities and performances of such systems. The method is applied to a sample of emerging and innovation based economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Turkey, and Singapore. The analyses consider the 6 main activities or functional dynamics of innovation systems and a set of 19 keywords. The keywords relate to the thematic clusters of renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency, and environmental management. The priorities of the countries in each main interaction of the system are classified accordingly. The priorities are compared to the existing level of specialization in the keywords based on the intermediate outputs of the system. The analyses cover 153,838 papers and 15,138 patents between the years 2003 and 2014. A Sustainable Innovation Index is developed to aggregate the normalized values of country performance across all keywords. Singapore receives the highest value (21.17) and the average of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa is 14.91. The results determine the ability of countries to align priorities and performance towards more mature innovation systems for sustainable development. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.