How to measure sustainability?
Is zero waste good for the economy? That's it! Is it displayed in the current indicator? Hmm...not always. What's the problem here?
One of the main reasons that can explain the current economic crisis in Europe is something as simple but complex as an indicator. The pursuit of GDP growth has pushed EU countries on a very unsustainable path. In fact, the current indicators provide additional benefits for a disposable society; for every piece of waste we generate, a new extraction, processing, transportation, manufacturing and disposal process will be triggered, which will promote the increase of economic activity and thus promote GDP increase. This explains the obsession with the consumption of disposable items; the more garbage we produce, the better for the economy! But this is only true when measured by traditional indicators. Common sense tells us that generating more waste is bad for the economy, but according to current indicators, it is true.
For example, if we stop buying disposable bottled water and switch to tap water, or if we start replacing disposable plastic bags with reusable bags, we will reduce economic activity because it is measured by traditional indicators. If the characteristic of sustainability is to reduce points rather than add points, then our indicators are clearly problematic.
In the long run, unsustainable practices will eventually cause such severe damage to the economy that even traditional indicators such as GDP can indicate this, but it is usually too late. Climate change is a good example. The scientific community agrees that global warming is happening, but often measures to mitigate it will curb traditional indicators such as GDP growth-despite improving sustainability! -. Another example is that household composting can capture carbon, build topsoil, save transportation, collection and transportation emissions, and educate the society, but from the perspective of GDP, the characteristics of organic waste incineration are better, although there will be a large amount of waste in the collection and combustion process. Increase carbon dioxide emissions and waste energy.
There is no discussion about the need to replace or supplement GDP as an indicator. What is discussed is which indicators to choose: UNEP and the United Nations University-IHDP submitted the Inclusive Wealth Index in June, which uses the natural, manufactured, human, and social wealth of countries. Measure wealth capital and aim to replace gross domestic product (GDP) and human development index (HDI). In addition, the European Commission has been studying indicators that exceed GDP to measure progress, true wealth, and the country's well-being. Many environmental indicators can be found here. Friends of the Earth also proposed indicators to measure resource use.
However, the EU is still stuck in the old and failed way of measuring economic activity, and the current debate on austerity and growth is no longer misleading and self-defeating. It is time to replace or strongly balance GDP with a new indicator, such as IWI, which considers sustainability and natural capital. The moment when zero waste occurs will get a major boost, and landfills and incinerators will be buried more in history.
It is time to replace or strongly balance GDP with a new indicator, such as IWI, which considers sustainability and natural capital.
About the latest post
Let Europe only export what we are proud of-31/05/2018 Stop the human chain of Gipuzkoa incinerators-30/05/2016 Organic waste management training by Romanian civil society and local experts-23/12 /2015