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European Commission reports on progress in moving

The European Commission has set out progress made in moving beyond gross domestic product as a measurement of economic activity. It comes four years after it first proposed a ‘beyond GDP’ roadmap to complement the indicator with environmental and social data. The most developed environmental indicators could be tested in “real-world policymaking”. Development of an index to reflect pollution and other harm to the environment within the EU, with the aim of assessing the results of domestic protection efforts, has proved to be more difficult that anticipated. It has been hindered by low availability of timely data. The first pilot index was developed last year and is now undergoing statistical testing, with a consultation likely to take place when robust results are available. Progress has also been made on tracking the links between the environment and the European economy, as required under the 2011 green accounting rules, with 2008-11 statistics to be published later this year or in early 2014. Monetary estimates of the loss of natural resources will allow environmental information to be better integrated into economic modelling and decision-making, the commission has said. For now, such valuations are only possible for a few resources, such as timber, but work is progressing under projects such as TEEB. The European Environment Agency is also developing indices for measuring ecosystem resources that are accessible without environmental degradation, as well as changes in the ecosystems’ capability to deliver services over time.
Issue 27