perspectives on

sustainable development

News and events

Case Studies

Air quality
Climate change




Economic systems

Most governments put continued economic growth at the centre of their efforts and as a key measure of success along with low unemployment. A much lower priority is generally given to the unplanned-for and damaging ecological externalities resulting from economic activity. These externalities include issues of public health, pollution and biodiversity amongst others, detailed in the ecological section. Attempts to cost externalities include 'shadow pricing', using various mechanisms such as 'willingness to pay' techniques, etc.

Economics in a changing world

The tenets of globalisation, dominant since World War II, are being challenged by those of localization. Traditional accounting methods for economic decision-making and welfare, cost-benefit analyses, are being broadened to incorporate social and environmental costs.





New Economics Foundation -
an independent 'think and do tank' that inspires and demonstrates real economic wellbeing, that has developed the Happy Planet Index.

Ecological footprinting - Wikipedia entry with links to current information -

Costing externalities

  • Cost benefit assessment
  • Environmental, Health and Economics Impact Assessment
  • Strategic Environmental Appraisal
  • Environmental Management Systems
  • Ecofootprinting
  • Carbon footprinting
  • Polluter pays principle



see: Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, The Official Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, Elsevier, at:

Roger Perman at Stratchclyde University has put together an excellent website
- sources, definitions on environmental economics to accompany the book 3rd edition of the textbook Natural Resource and Environmental Economics by Perman, Ma, McGilvray and Common.

IIED Environmental Economics Programme -


Consumption and production

  • Resource depletion
    • Reduce, Re-use, Recycle
  • Access to global resources for industrial activity
  • Water, food and energy for communities



  • Pollution
  • Public Health
  • Biodiversity



Economic inequalities
The richest 450 people in the US own more than the annual income of the poorest half of the world's people.
In 1960, richest fifth of the global population had 30 times more wealth than the poorest fifth. In 1991, the richest fifth had 60 times more than the poorest fifth. In 1998, the richest fifth had 78 times more than the poorest fifth.


Land ownership

Inequalities - in income, health and land ownership - can be measured by the Gini coefficient. On this basis, Brazil is one of the most unequal countries in landholding in the world. See:


The UNU-WIDER World Income Inequality Database (WIID) collects and stores information on income inequality for developed, developing, and transition countries.

Technical discussion on Wikipedia:




Jubilee Debt Campaign -

The World Bank on debt:

Multilateral debt relief initiative:At the July 2005 G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, G8 leaders pledged to cancel the debt of the world’s most indebted countries

Finance Flows and TNCs




Global Policy Forum -
Information and resources on Transnational Corporations, financial flows, etc.: 'Monitoring Policy Making at the United Nations'

Corporate Social Responsibility


UK Government’s website on CSR -

Wikipedia -

Freemarket economics


GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENT INSTITUTE WORKING PAPER 00-05 Getting the Prices Wrong: The Limits of Market-Based Environmental Policy Frank Ackerman and Kevin Gallagher, October 2000, Tufts University Medford MA