e-Frame European Framework for Measuring Progress

WP4 Environmental Indicators

Leader:FEEM
Participants:UNISI
Starting time:January 2012
Objectives: Going beyond GDP implies an effort in extending the current assessment of wellbeing to dimensions traditionally less central to policy evaluation. In particular, a proper integration with measures of environmental assessment is crucial in identifying key aspects of the development paradigm of the future.
The general aims of WP4 are:
1)To review the existing literature on environmental dimension
2)To provide a more interlinked evaluation of human well being comprising also the environment.
The specific objectives are:
•Sub-topics identification, description of the current state of the art and missing area analysis in environmental sustainability assessment.
•Review of existing initiatives (EU-SDS, UN SD, etc.); initiatives in progress (e.g. European Composite Index on Environmental Pressures, etc.); and academic initiatives (EPI-Yale, FEEM SI, etc.). The indicators review will address both qualitative and quantitative initiatives aimed at the definition and monitoring of the environmental dimension of sustainability and development.
•Review will be organized along two sub dimensions, Environmental well being (Climate change impacts, Biodiversity, Natural resources, Air pollution, Water use, Waste generation) and Climate Policy (Energy policy and Climate change).
•Review of the availability of statistical information on environmental issues and evaluating general correlations, complementarities and overlapping among methods and measures.
•Organization of a Workshop on Environmental indicators and missing areas.
Description of work: The topic Environmental well-being aims at complementing traditional environmental goals with a broader evaluation of the inter linkages with the social and institutional sphere, echoing a concern voiced in the EC communication “Beyond GDP – Measuring progress in a changing world” (EC, 29 April 2010). In this Communication, the EC identifies the creation of a comprehensive environmental index, able to embody all different dimensions of environmental assessment, usually separately analyzed, as a future challenge in European policy. This topic aims at following this suggestion, bringing under one broad headline all relevant sub-components of environmental status, currently identified as: Climate change impacts, Biodiversity, Natural resources, Air pollution, Water use, Waste generation.. The indicators reviewed will include both stock and flow measures. The topic Climate Policy (Energy policy and Climate change) includes indicators to properly monitor progress in the key dimensions identified by the European Union with respect to climate change. Energy policy plays a central role in the achievement of a sustainable growth path; for instance, the EU 2020 goals aim to increase energy efficiency and energy supply from renewable sources to start building an affordable low-carbon energy path for a beyond-GDP economy.
The interest in the environmental dimension of sustainability has motivated the creation of important indices, which will be reviewed and assessed. Among these initiatives we find for instance the Environmental Sustainability Index (Yale and Columbia Universities, 2005), the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), The Ecological Footprint (Wackernagel and Rees, 1996), to name the most famous ones, which have been increasingly quoted and used in the international policy debate. The European Commission is proposing to draw up EU green economic accounts for air emissions, environmental taxes and macro-economic material flows, including agricultural crops, metal ores, minerals and fossil energy, implementing the need for better and more accessible data, voiced by policy makers in order to enable accurate assessment and further development of European environmental policies. All these methods provide indicators for the management of environmental and human systems by weighting computing and aggregating data collected from public and private institutions.
Another initiative is the FEEM SI (FEEM, 2009), trying to summarize the three pillars of sustainability with an aggregation methodology that focuses specifically on the interrelation between indicators. In addition, due to its peculiar formulation through a dynamic Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model, it allows projecting sustainability indicators in the future and predicting ex- ante policy impacts. This review will address the peculiarities and points of strengths and weaknesses of the different attempts at quantifying measures of qualitative and quantitative assessment of environmental wellbeing, finding evidence in support of missing areas for work.

Task 1: Identification of topics and indicators review (FEEM)
•Sub-topics identification, description of the current state of the art and missing area analysis in environmental sustainability assessment.
•Review of existing initiatives (EU-SDS, UN SD, etc.); initiatives in progress (e.g. European Composite Index on Environmental Pressures, etc.); and academic initiatives (EPI-Yale, FEEM SI, etc.). The indicators review will address both qualitative and quantitative initiatives aimed at the definition and monitoring of the environmental dimension of sustainability and development.

Task 2: Holistic view of environmental sustainability and related measures (UNISI)
•Review of the availability of statistical information on environmental issues.
•Evaluating general correlations, complementarities and overlapping among methods and measures.
•Enlarging the set of information available for an optimal allocation of natural resources and their use under a sustainability point of view; designing the progressive standardization (and consequent diffusion) of complementary methods and tools.

Task 3: Environmental Workshop: indicators and missing area (FEEM, UNISI)
Environmental Workshop will be organised by FEEM at month 24 in Venice (Italy).
The workshop addresses:
•assessment of the environmental component of a beyond-GDP society (quantitative indices and composite indicators) (input from Task 1)
•correlations, complementarities and overlapping among methods and measures (input from Task 2)
The workshop will also provide the opportunity to share ideas on research gaps that remain to be filled in the environmental indicators area.
Deliverables:
    D4.1: Environmental workshop: indicators and missing area (December 2013)