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Measuring sustainable development – Nation by nation

“Sustainable development represents a commitment to advancing human well-being, with the added constraint that this development needs to take place within the ecological limits of the biosphere. Progress in both these dimensions of sustainable development can be assessed: we use the UN Human Development Index (HDI) as an indicator of development and the Ecological Footprint as an indicator of human demand on the biosphere. We argue that an HDI of no less than 0.8 and a per capita Ecological Footprint less than the globally available biocapacity per person represent minimum requirements for sustainable development that is globally replicable. Despite growing global adoption of sustainable development as an explicit policy goal, we find that in the year 2003 only one of the 93 countries surveyed met both of these minimum requirements. We also find an overall trend in high-income countries over the past twenty five years that improvements to HDI come with disproportionately larger increases in Ecological Footprint, showing a movement away from sustainability. Some lower-income countries, however, have achieved higher levels of development without a corresponding increase in per capita demand on ecosystem resources.”
Daniel D. Moran, Mathis Wackernagel, Justin A. Kitzes, Steven H. Goldfinger and Aurélien Boutaud
Global Footprint Network, USA, LUMES, Lunds Universitet, Sweden and Ecole des Mines de Saint-Etienne, France