I guess most readers here are painfully aware of the current situation where so much emphasis is placed on economic growth while it ignores much of the often largely irreversible depletion of natural resources. A new UN report now presents a new indicator aimed at encouraging sustainability: The Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI) was unveiled in the Inclusive Wealth Report 2012. This achievement is a joint initiative launched at Rio+20 by the United Nations University’s International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (UNU-IHDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The IWI looks at changes in inclusive wealth in 20 countries which together account for almost three quarters of global GDP, from 1990 to 2008. The IWI goes beyond the scope of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI). It aims to make comparable the true state of their nation’s wealth and the sustainability of its growth.
The report includes key findings as well as recommendations. These findings include (amongst more):
- While 19 out of the 20 countries experienced a decline in natural capital, six also saw a decline in their inclusive wealth, putting them on an unsustainable track.
- High population growth with respect to IWI growth created unsustainable conditions in five of the six countries mentioned above.
- With the exception of France, Germany, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, all countries surveyed have a higher share of natural capital than manufactured capital, highlighting its importance.
- Estimates of inclusive wealth can be improved significantly with better data on the stocks of natural, human and social capital and their values for human well-being.
The last point again stresses what reegle/REEEP sees as a crucial factor to accelerate the shift towards a more sustainable future: Access to data and information in an easily accessible form. Such data includes Open Data, which is on the key agendas of REEEP’s future strategy.
Recommendations include that countries witnessing diminishing returns in natural capital should invest in renewable natural capital to improve their IWI and the well-being of their citizens. Furthermore nations should incorporate the IWI within planning and development ministries to encourage the creation of sustainable policies and that governments and international organizations should establish research programs to value key components of natural capital, in particular ecosystems.
We will keep you informed about the on-goings at RIO+20 right here!
- Sustainability index that looks beyond GDP launched(sciencedaily.com)
- UNU-IHDP and UNEP launch sustainability index that looks beyond GDP(eurekalert.org)