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.
The Pacific Environment and Climate Change Outlook assesses the state of the environment for 21 countries in the Pacific region. It covers both the policy factors that contributed to progress and uses metrics to evaluate the state of the environment. While the report laments the lack of good monitoring data, one of the goals of the report is to develop a standardized set of indicators for future use.
Case Study: Pacific Environment and Climate Change Outlook 2012
Scope: Regional (Pacific region)
First released: 1982. Subsequent reports were released in 1982, 1995, 2005, and 2012
Intended Audience: Government, Civil Society
Potential applications: Guiding policymaking; implementing multilateral environmental agreements; protecting natural resources and biodiversity MORE
On April 15, 2010, Dartmouth College launched the Dartmouth Energy Campaign, a multi-year initiative organized to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse emissions. After months of research into campus energy systems and practices, using the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) and Sustainability Competency, Opportunity Rating, and Evaluation (SCORE), the developers decided on the three-phase campaign: personal behavioral pledges to reduce energy use, increasing energy-saving practices in campus buildings, and initiating major energy efficiency projects across campus.
Scope: United States
Intended Audience: Colleges and Universities
Product by: Dartmouth College; Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Sustainable Measures, Sustainable Endowments Institute, Sierra Club MORE
That the health and sustainability of human civilization are dependent on the oceans should be self-evident, but in recent decades overfishing, poor resource management, climate-change-induced acidification, coral bleaching, and a host of systemic problems have revealed just how twined the lives of people are with the ocean. Oceans are vast and obscure, so while we may be able to observe individual symptoms in isolated regions, visualizing health on national and international scales is itself an oceanic task. With its stunningly clear presentation of complex data, the Ocean Health Index, or OHI, offers a compelling measure of ocean quality.
First released: August 2012
Intended audience: Government, civil society, business MORE
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.
Select Results: MORE
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
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