UNU-IHDP and UNEP: Inclusive Wealth Index provides Sustainability Index that Looks Beyond GDP

The world’s fixation on economic growth ignores a rapid and largely irreversible depletion of natural resources that will seriously harm future generations, according to a report which today unveiled a new indicator aimed at encouraging sustainability – the Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI).

The IWI, which looks beyond the traditional economic and development yardsticks of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI) to include a full range of assets such as manufactured, human and natural capital, shows governments the true state of their nation’s wealth and the sustainability of its growth.

The indicator was unveiled in the Inclusive Wealth Report 2012 (IWR), a joint initiative launched at Rio+20 by theUnited Nations University’s International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (UNU-IHDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The report looked at changes in inclusive wealth in 20 countries, which together account for almost three quarters of global GDP, from 1990 to 2008.

Despite registering GDP growth, China, the United States, South Africa and Brazil were shown to have significantly depleted their natural capital base, the sum of a set of renewable and non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels, forests and fisheries. Read on