Indicator Case Studies
For the first time, the Indicators in Practice component of the 2012 EPI identifies interesting examples and good practices in the use of environmental indicators in policy and management contexts. The criteria for inclusion is that the indicators have had an observed policy impact, and preferably that they are used in an operational way to address environmental problems, manage resources, or track the implementation of policies and programs. The scale of application can range from local to national to transnational regions. If you or your organization has an example of Indicators in Practice, please visit the Community section of the website to tell us about it. The most successful example will be awarded a prize in January of 2013.
Which countries are leading the effort to create strong economies that also reduce their degradation of the environment? Are these countries perceived internationally as having the “most-green economies”? These are the very questions addressed by a new index that evaluates the sustainability of economies throughout the world.
Intended Audience: Government, Businesses and Investors
Project by: Dual Citizen, a consulting firm based in the United States
Issue Addressed: The Global Green Economy Index evaluates the efforts of countries to create environmentally sustainable economies, focusing on efforts to invest in clean energy technology, sustainable forms of tourism, and improved domestic environmental quality. It also seeks to capture how the performance of these countries is perceived internationally. MORE
Colleges and universities are large consumers of energy and other resources - the potential for institutions of higher education to limit their environmental impacts is significant. Many schools now have offices and employees dedicated to improving sustainability. For these managers, indicators of sustainability are proving useful tools for setting goals and measuring true progress.
Scope: Local - Universities (esp. United States & Canada).
Intended Audience: Civil society - colleges and universities.
Projects by: The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Sustainable Measures, Sustainable Endowments Institute, and the Sierra Club. MORE
What to expect when you're expecting climate change? Storms, floods, and water scarcity for starters. The World Resources Institute has teamed up with global business partners to produce a digital, customizable water resource risk map. The "Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas" will allow companies and conservation partners to identify and plan for current and proejcted water stress around the world. The map tool uses sophisticated indicators to arrive at final risk profiles.
Intended Audience: Businesses and Investors
Project by: The World Resources Institute
Issue Addressed: Highlights water related challenges around availability, water quality, uncertainty in regulatory change, public awareness of water, and competition between different water users for businesses with large water needs.
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Does this shirt come in green? A group of footware and apparel business leaders have launched the most sophisticated environmental performance review of name brand clothing yet. The Higgs Index will be used by big brands to critically assess the impacts of their products and, it is hoped, shift design, supply, manufactering, and shipping towards more sustainable practices. Companies like Target and Nike are already using this green business index.
Scope: Global products and supply chains
Intended Audience: Businesses
Project by: The Sustainable Apparel Coalition, comprised of apparel and footwear industry groups and non-profit affiliates. MORE
The Mesoamerican Reef stretches across 1,000 kilometers of Latin American waters, from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to the eastern shore of Honduras. It is the Western Hemishpere's longest coral reef, and it is in trouble. A new international initiative to chart and improve the health of this important ecosystem is now underway, and they are using a variety of health indicators to synthesize new science on the reefs and communicate their status to stakeholders and policy makers.
Indexes rating the sustainability of seafood are well-established and increasingly well-known across the United States. Their sophisticated metrics on ocean and fish stock health are delivered to seafood consumers, suppliers, and retailers in an accessible and easily understood tiered recommendation rating. They are also driving measureable changes.
In response to growing consumer demand for environmentally responsible products, Walmart initiated a Sustainable Product Index program in early 2009 with the goal of examining its supply chains and creating an index that will rank products on multiple measures of environmental impact.
Public Disclosure of Energy Use Indicators to Encourage Reductions in Private Energy Consumption: An academic study of reputational impacts on conservation
A new study from the University of California - Los Angeles has found that the public disclosure of personal environmental performance metrics can be a strong motivator for encouraging energy conservation at the individual level. In one study group, rated users reduced energy consumption by 20 percent in response to public information disclosure.
In the early 2000’s, in response to concerns that China’s resource-intensive development patterns were particularly unsustainable, the Chinese Academy of Science created the Resource and Environment Performance Index (REPI) to assess how well China’s economy ranked in terms of “eco-efficiency” or environmental impact by GDP. In response to a low REPI score, China’s government has begun planning for a “Resource Efficient and Environment-Friendly (REEF) Society.”
Intended Audience: Government
Project by: The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) via the United States Congress (environmental indicators developed by Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information (CIESIN) and the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP))
Issue Addressed: Program identifies countries to receive US foreign aid based on performance scores across a range of governance and economic criteria, including natural resource management. MORE
Scope: National / Kuwait
Intended Audience: Government, NGOs, academia, civil society
Project by: Kuwait Environment Public Authority, UNDP Country Office in Kuwait and UNEP/ROWA in Bahrain
Issue Addressed: Environmental quality of Kuwait’s natural resources including air and water quality, conservation areas, and wastewater MORE
Scope: East Asia, Korea
Intended Audience: Government
Project by: Numerous agencies of the Korean Government along with the Korean National Assembly Civil Society, a group of non-governmental environmental organizations, and members of the private sectors.
Issue Addressed: Water quality. MORE
Scope: National / Denmark
Intended Audience: Government, agricultural industry, environmental NGOs
Project by: Regional water authorities throughout Denmark and national Danish government agencies including the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Environmental Research Institute (NERI), and the Geological Survey of Denmark (GSD)
Issue Addressed: Water quality in Denmark MORE
Scope: Provincial / Tonle Sap Lake and surrounding areas in Cambodia
Intended Audience: Government, international funders
Project by: Cambodian Ministry of Rural Development and the Asian Development Bank (ABD)
Issue Addressed: Sanitation and access to water in rural Cambodia MORE
When Korea was ranked 136th out of 146 countries in the 2002 Environmental Sustainability Index, and 120th out of 122 countries for air quality, the South Korean government and major stakeholders recognized that air quality needed major attention.
The Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Construction and Transportation, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, and Ministry of Environment worked together with “The Alliance,” a group of non-governmental environmental organizations and major auto industries throughout Korea to start addressing urban air quality. The initiative focused particularly on the Seoul Metropolitan Area of South Korea where the primary concern is PM10, which has both environmental and human health impacts. MORE