The Wellbeing of Nations: A Country-by-Country Index of Quality of Life and the Environment

The Wellbeing of Nations: A Country-by-Country Index of Quality of Life and the Environment

by Robert Prescott-Allen
Pub. Date:
Island Press


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The Wellbeing of Nations: A Country-by-Country Index of Quality of Life and the Environment

<p>"Sustainable development is the holy Grail of governments and leaders but has remained elusive and undefined. Wellbeing of Nations provides the diagnostics to turn sustainability into reality. This is the ultimate travel guide to a sustainable future." Jose Maria Figueres Former President of Costa Rica World Economic Foru.<p>"At long last, a real metric for measuring sustainability and wellbeing. It provides a way to chart a better future. The cornerstone of any working library on environment, development, and quality of life. A volume without peer." Thomas E. Lovejoy Chief Biodiversity Advisor The World Ban.<p>The use of indicators to gauge human progress is common and well understood; Gross Domestic Product and the Index of Leading Economic Indicators are two well-known examples. Yet most of the widely cited indicators focus exclusively on economic activity, and even the most progressive of indicators fail to account for key issues of sustainability. The Wellbeing of Nations addresses that shortcoming by combining indicators of human well-being with those of environmental stability to generate a more comprehensive picture of the state of our world.<p>The author combines 39 indicators of health, population, wealth, education, communication, freedom, peace, crime, and equity in to a Human Wellbeing Index, and 39 indicators of land health, protected areas, water quality, water supply, global atmosphere, air quality, species diversity, energy use, and resource pressures into an Ecosystem Wellbeing Index. The two indexes are then combined into a Wellbeing/Stress Index that measures how much human wellbeing each country obtains for the amount of stress it places on the environment. Seventy color-coded geopolitical maps vividly portray the performance of each of the 180 nations for all indexes, and the main indicators that go into them. In addition, all data are given in 160 pages of tables, and the highly accessible methodology is described in appendices so that readers can undertake their own assessments.<p>Produced in collaboration with the leading international organizations involved with sustainable development, The Wellbeing of Nations is a one-of-a-kind reference for development and environmental policy professionals, as well as for students and scholars in environmental studies, international studies, and international development.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781559638302
Publisher: Island Press
Publication date: 10/28/2001
Pages: 219
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

List of Maps, Figures, and Tablesxi
Data Sourcesxx
1.The quest for wellbeing and sustainability
How far to the good life?1
Why new indices?2
The Wellbeing Assessment difference2
Guide to this book4
2.Human wellbeing
Human Wellbeing Index13
Measuring human wellbeing13
Few nations well, many unwell14
The equity effect16
It's the economy, and it's not17
How far from having nothing--or how close to having it all?17
Health and population20
Household wealth26
National wealth31
Knowledge and culture36
Freedom and governance42
Peace and order45
Household equity50
Gender equity51
3.Ecosystem wellbeing
Ecosystem Wellbeing Index59
Measuring ecosystem wellbeing59
Most of the planet is poor or mediocre61
The resource use effect63
Biodiversity and environmental quality64
The size of the foot--or where it's put?65
Land diversity68
Land quality72
Global atmosphere81
Local air quality84
Species and genes86
Wild diversity87
Domesticated diversity91
Resource use94
Energy and materials95
Resource sectors96
4.Combining human and ecosystem wellbeing
Distances to sustainability107
Wellbeing Index107
Wellbeing/Stress Index109
Wellbeing performance groups111
Human wellbeing and ecosystem stress: signs of a way forward112
Regional reviews115
North and Central America116
West Indies118
South America120
Northern Africa122
West Africa124
Central and East Africa126
Southern Africa128
Northern Europe130
Southern Europe132
Eastern Europe134
West Asia136
Russia and Central and East Asia138
Southern Asia140
Aiming for human and ecosystem wellbeing144
Commitment to human and ecosystem wellbeing144
Regular wellbeing assessments144
Information and communication on human and ecosystem wellbeing145
Sustainable wealth146
Wellbeing areas (Slow Zones)147
Wellbeing alliances and partnerships147
Data Tables
Table 1.Human Wellbeing Index150
Table 2.Health and population154
Table 3.Wealth index; household wealth158
Table 4.National wealth162
Table 5.Knowledge166
Table 6.Community index; freedom and governance; peace170
Table 7.Crime174
Table 8.Equity177
Table 9.Ecosystem Wellbeing Index181
Table 10.Land index; basic data; native forest change185
Table 11.Natural, modified, cultivated, and built land189
Table 12.Land protection194
Table 13.Land quality198
Table 14.Water index; river conversion; water withdrawal202
Table 15.Inland water quality: score, oxygen balance, nutrients, and acidification206
Table 16.Inland water quality: suspended solids, microbial pollution, and arsenic and heavy metals218
Table 17.Air index; global atmosphere225
Table 18.Local air quality229
Table 19.Species and genes index; wild species rank; wild plant species235
Table 20.Wild animal species; domesticated diversity239
Table 21.Domesticated diversity (continued)243
Table 22.Resource use index; energy; timber247
Table 23.Agriculture; fish and seafood self-reliance251
Table 24.Fisheries255
Table 25.Wellbeing Index and Wellbeing/Stress Index259
Table 26.Wellbeing performance groups263
Table 27.Countries ranked by Wellbeing Index267
Appendix A.Monetary and physical accounts269
Counting money: the System of National Accounts269
Wrong number: Gross Domestic Product270
Better bookkeeping: "greening" the national accounts271
Heavy lifting: physical accounts274
Appendix B.Wellbeing Assessment277
Scope and origins of Wellbeing Assessment277
Framework: equal treatment of people and ecosystem277
Six-stage cycle279
Stage 1.Define the system and goals279
Stage 2.Identify elements and objectives280
Stage 3.Choose indicators and performance criteria280
Stage 4.Measure and map indicators284
Stage 5.Combine indicators and map indices287
Stage 6.Review results and propose policies289
Supplement 1.Bellagio principles for assessing sustainable development289
Supplement 2.Background of the dimensions290
Supplement 3.Assessment frameworks291
Supplement 4.Common units for combining indicators292
Supplement 5.Performance scales292
Appendix C.Performance criteria chosen for The Wellbeing of Nations297
Appendix D.Summary of combining procedures used in The Wellbeing of Nations307
Appendix E.Map Maker Pro313
Appendix F.Initial classification of interior, coastal, and ocean basins315

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