The Challenge of Measuring Sustainability

Sunday, February 20, 2011: 8:30 AM-11:30 AM
140B (Washington Convention Center )
Measuring progress toward sustainability and evaluating policies intended to support sustainability requires measuring sustainability with indicators that are valid and reliable. Whereas proposals for such measures have existed for several decades, in the last few years, an increasingly sophisticated literature has developed estimates of key measures, examined methodological issues in sustainability measurement, and applied the measures to the analysis of the impact of alternative policies and institutions on sustainability. This session will critically examine recent developments in measuring sustainability, providing a review of recent progress, identification of current strengths and weaknesses in practice, and point directions for future research. Each speaker will address the following questions: What is the conceptual basis for the measure? What are the methods by which data are acquired and aggregated to produce the measure? What are the strengths and limits of the measure? What insights have been revealed by using this measure? How has/could have the measure been used to inform decision-making? How has the measure been used in scientific research? What are the key directions for future research and application?
Eugene A. Rosa, Washington State University
Thomas Dietz, Michigan State University
Kai N. Lee, David and Lucile Packard Foundation
and Sandra Marquart-Pyatt, Michigan State University
Mathis Wackernagel, Global Footprint Network
The Ecological Footprint
Jay Emerson, Yale University; Marc Levy, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)
Environmental Performance Index
Kirk Hamilton, The World Bank
Genuine Savings
Charles Seaford, New Economics Foundation
The Happy Planet Index
Marina Fischer-Kowalski, Alpen Adria University
National Material Flow Accounting
Rosina Bierbaum, University of Michigan
Reflecting on Measures of Sustainability
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