A Fundamental Measure for Progress

By Pyper, Wendy; Pearson, Leonie | Ecos, September-October 2004 | Go to article overview

A Fundamental Measure for Progress


Pyper, Wendy, Pearson, Leonie, Ecos


The question of the degree of sustainability in our lives now and in the future is a difficult one to answer, since as yet, we have no way of actually measuring it. That problem is now being nailed down by a new, internationally significant three-year project being jointly run in Australia and Sweden.

'Measuring and Modelling Sustainable Development in Australia', led by Dr Brian Walker with support from CSIRO's Social and Economic Integration Emerging Science Initiative, has its roots in some 17 years of evolutionary thought on sustainable development.

Following the World Commission on Environment and Development's defining 1987 report (1) outlining sustainable development, Australia adopted the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (2) in 1992 to guide sustainability decisions and action by government, industry, business and the community. Since then, however, no single framework of measure for sustainable development has been conceived to determine whether or not our decisions and actions have achieved their objectives. Walker's team's project has set out to provide that measurement.

Project Manager, Dr Leonie Pearson, says 'Often, conventional macroeconomic measures such as Gross Domestic Product of Gross National Product are used in association with other indicators and reports on environmental issues, such as the State of the Environment Report, to make sustainable development-related decisions and assessments. But these methods don't allow us to evaluate the trade-offs between human, natural and manufactured resources that occur in our everyday lives, such as choosing between investing in wetland rehabilitation or building a new bridge of road.'

Recent work by the World Bank (see figure at right), for example, has shown that Australia has a wealth of human resources (such as skills and education), manufactured assets (infrastructure, buildings, roads) and natural resources (minerals, forests, protected areas). However, Pearson says this measure of wealth does not include critical aspects of human and natural capital such as ecosystem services--not found in the market place. Because the resources are measured separately, trade-offs between them can't be identified.

Pearson points out that an 'inclusive approach', based on all the resources in a region, needs to be developed to help countries ascertain their stale of sustainability.

The inclusive approach

The CSIRO project team--made up of ecologists and economists--aims to develop a pilot framework for measuring and modelling 'inclusive wealth' (as the basis for assessing sustainable development in Australia), using a regional case study in the Goulburn Broken Catchment (northern Victoria).

'Inclusive wealth' is a formulation developed by the Beijer International Institute for Ecological Economics. (3) It is the sum of all resources or 'capital assets'--natural capital, human capital and manufactured capital--weighted by their social value or contribution to human wellbeing.

The three-year project aims to place a value on these capital assets using market and non-market prices, and group them together to form measures of human, natural and manufactured capital. A model will then be developed to look at the change in the capitals' quantities and values over time.

'If an area has developed sustainably, then, the value of inclusive wealth should stay the same of increase over time,' Pearson says.

A regional beginning

In the first 12 months of the project, Pearson's team has identified seven important goods and services--or 'flows to human wellbeing'--provided by the Goulburn Broken Catchment: recreation, nature conservation, dairy production and processing, horticulture and processing, cropping and grazing, forestry, and life services. The human, natural and manufactured capital that make up each of these flows must now be determined so that values can be assigned to each flow. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Fundamental Measure for Progress
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.