Inclusive Wealth Report 2014
In December, 2014, UNEP and the United Nations University International Human Dimension Programme (UNU-IHDP) released the Inclusive Wealth Report 2014: Measuring Progress Toward Sustainability. This series of reports is unique and valuable because the authors offer a reasonable and quantifiable alternative for assessing wealth and progress through GDP growth or the Human Development Index. Indeed, one of the most challenging tasks for policymakers and academics alike is to envision and coordinate a methodology that accounts for growth in wealth and overall living standards, but captures essential features of our human and natural system that are affected by that growth: ie, ‘natural capital’ like environmental health and ‘human capital’ like education and health.
The Inclusive Wealth Report series uses a novel index called the Inclusive Wealth Index to indicate whether nations are growing in such a way that includes progress on wealth distribution and human health while minimizing environmental damages.
The key findings of the Inclusive Wealth Index are that there is average positive inclusive wealth growth in the world, but most of that growth stems from advances in human capital. Natural capital and population growth combine to bring down wealth averages across the world. Overall, 85 of 140 countries indexed showed progress towards inclusive wealth, but 127 of the 140 showed declines in the wealth of their natural environments.
This index is a new tool in assessing the wealth of nations, and it is a welcome addition to socially and environmentally blind indicators like GDP and GNP. For those interested in issues ranging from sustainable industrial development to the preservation of forest resources, check out the full report here.