Weak and Strong Sustainability in the SEEA: Concepts and Measurement
25 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2007 Last revised: 10 Dec 2010
Date Written: December 7, 2010
In this paper, we explain how the latest international handbook on environmental accounting, the System of Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting or SEEA (United Nations, European Commission, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and World Bank (2003). Handbook of National Accounting, Studies in Methods. New York, United Nations.), can be used to measure weak and strong sustainability. We emphasise the importance of understanding the conceptual differences between weak and strong sustainability. We then outline what we consider to be current best practice in measurement, all the time flagging the relationship between our discussion and that of the SEEA-2003. This is an important task in our view, because, despite covering a very wide range of relevant conceptual and empirical issues, the handbook is by design not meant to provide clear guidelines for the purpose of measuring sustainability in either its weak or strong version.
Keywords: Environmental accounting, weak and strong sustainability, material flow accounts, genuine savings, ecological footprint, index of sustainable economic welfare
JEL Classification: Q20, Q30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation