Title: Measuring sustainable development in the era of globalisation: can it be done and what way ahead?

Authors: Andrew Sumner

Addresses: Development Studies, School of Cultural and Innovation Studies, University of East London, Docklands Campus, 4-6 University Way, London E16 2RD, UK

Abstract: Can ||sustainable development|| be measured? This question is discussed through providing a review and stock-take of debates on the measurement of sustainable development, drawing on parallels with the evolution of poverty measurement. Taking a narrow, purely environmental, definition of sustainable development, green indicators are categorised and assessed. The paper argues that: existing measures are limited by the lack of a workable definition of sustainable development to provide a conceptual ||launch-pad||; within the current globalisation era, measures are either biased for or against the current outward-orientated liberalisation-led economic growth development model – what is or is not sustainable is then an artefact of methodology; and current attempts at measuring sustainable development have been ||red herrings||, as they are unbounded and static conceptualisations. Rather, future research should be concerned with a more bounded, dynamic analysis and with the transposition onto the environment of a poverty concept – the poverty elasticity of growth – in a green elasticity of growth.

Keywords: environment; sustainable development measurement; statistics; globalisation; green indicators; environmental indicators.

DOI: 10.1504/WRSTSD.2004.005509

World Review of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development, 2004 Vol.1 No.2, pp.116 - 128

Published online: 12 Oct 2004 *

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