Venezuela's "green GDP" is negative
The United Nations asserts that measure of economic growth should take natural resources into account
With the growing global obsession to economically expand, the rapid and often irreversible exhaustion of natural resources is overlooked. According to a report by the United Nations on sustainable growth at the Rio+20 conference, this linear pursuit of growth compromises future generations.
The warning comes from the "Inclusive Wealth Report 2012", which introduces a new index the Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI)- that emphasizes sustainability.
The report suggests that countries should not only use traditional measures of growth and prosperity such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI), but they should also adopt indices that measure production base.
According to the report, these indexes reveal to governments the true status of their nations: both their wealth and sustainable growth. They measure sustainability by looking into the corresponding values of natural, human, and manufactured capital. This evaluation is known as IWI.
The study is based on the changes in inclusive wealth of 20 rich, poor, and middle income countries. Together, the evaluated countries represent 56% of the global population and 76% of the world GDP.
The countries studied were Germany, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, the United States, France, India, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, Norway, the United Kingdom, Russia, South Africa, and Venezuela.
The study shows that in countries like China, the US, South Africa, and Brazil, GDP grew in the given period, but in parallel their natural capital base significantly diminished.
Of the 20 nations surveyed, Japan was the only one whose natural capital base did not diminish, thanks to its growing forest coverage.
The document indicates that in six of the evaluated countries (Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, South Africa, and Nigeria) there was a decrease in inclusive wealth, a situation that is therefore deemed "unsustainable."
If only GDP is taken into account during the studied period, China grew by a formidable 422%, the US grew by 37%, and Brazil by 31%. But upon closer analysis with the Inclusive Wealth Index, the numbers show that China only grew by 45% between 1990 and 2008, the US by only 13%, and Brazil by 18%, Efe reported.
Translated by Alejandro Osio
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