A Critique of the Environmental Sustainability Index

Australian National University Division of Economics Working Paper

28 Pages Posted: 9 May 2003

See all articles by Raghbendra Jha

Raghbendra Jha

Australian National University (ANU) - Australia South Asia Research Centre (ASARC); Crawford School of Public Policy

K. V. Bhanu Murthy

University of Delhi - School of Economics - Commerce Department

Date Written: April 2003

Abstract

A central issue in the context of the environment is that of its sustainability. This presumes the development of an index that encapsulates both the current state of the environment as well as its potential to provide support for future human activity. Once the broad contours are accepted the need for a measure of sustainability arises. Obviously such a measure must be general enough so as to cover various dimensions of environmental degradation and potential as well all the countries in the world. The 2002 Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) is a significant effort in this direction. The present paper presents a critical evaluation of the ESI methodology. It is argued that the ESI has conceptual problems in its visualization of environmental degradation and sustainability. The choice of variables as well as the statistical methodology of compiling the index are also found to be wanting. This paper proposes an alternative methodology using Principal Components Analysis and argues this is an improvement upon the ESI methodology. Given the likely use of aggregate environmental indexes in future environmental management, the critique advanced in this paper is of considerable significance.

Keywords: Environmental sustainability, Principal Components Analysis

JEL Classification: Q01, Q38, Q39

Suggested Citation

Jha, Raghbendra and Murthy, K. V. Bhanu, A Critique of the Environmental Sustainability Index (April 2003). Australian National University Division of Economics Working Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=380160 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.380160

Raghbendra Jha (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) - Australia South Asia Research Centre (ASARC) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia
+61 2 6125 2683 (Phone)
+61 2 6125 0443 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://crawford.anu.edu.au/crawford_people/content/staff/acde/rjha.php

Crawford School of Public Policy

ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
J.G. Crawford Building, #132, Lennox Crossing
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

K. V. Bhanu Murthy

University of Delhi - School of Economics - Commerce Department ( email )

59 Vaishali Enclave
Pitampura
Delhi, 110034
India
+91 11 27667891 (Phone)

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