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Towards integrated social–ecological sustainability indicators: Exploring the contribution and gaps in existing global data

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  • Selomane, Odirilwe
  • Reyers, Belinda
  • Biggs, Reinette
  • Tallis, Heather
  • Polasky, Stephen

Abstract

Sustainable development goals (SDGs), which recognise the interconnections between social, economic and ecological systems, have ignited new interest in indicators able to integrate trends in – and interactions between – nature and socio-economic development. We explore whether existing global data can be used to measure nature's contribution to development targets and explore limitations in these data. Using Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1– eradicate extreme hunger and poverty. We develop two indicators to assess the contribution of nature to progress in this goal. The indicators (based on income and employment data from nature-based sectors (NBS) represented by agriculture, forestry and fisheries) show large but declining contributions of nature to MDG 1: NBS contributed to lifting 18% of people out of poverty and provided 37% of global employment between 1991 and 2010. For low income countries, the contributions were 20% and 55% respectively. In exploring data gaps the study highlighted low reporting rates especially in low income countries, as well as lack of other measures of poverty alleviation beyond income and employment. If we are to move beyond target setting to implementation of sustainable development goals at national scales, these shortcomings require as much attention as the elaboration and agreement on the post-2015 development goals.

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  • Selomane, Odirilwe & Reyers, Belinda & Biggs, Reinette & Tallis, Heather & Polasky, Stephen, 2015. "Towards integrated social–ecological sustainability indicators: Exploring the contribution and gaps in existing global data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 140-146.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:118:y:2015:i:c:p:140-146
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2015.07.024
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    1. Maike Hamann & Reinette Biggs & Belinda Reyers, 2016. "An Exploration of Human Well-Being Bundles as Identifiers of Ecosystem Service Use Patterns," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 11(10), pages 1-20, October.
    2. Galeotti, Marzio & Salini, Silvia & Verdolini, Elena, 2020. "Measuring environmental policy stringency: Approaches, validity, and impact on environmental innovation and energy efficiency," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 136(C).
    3. Alexander, David & Blum, Véronique, 2016. "Ecological economics: A Luhmannian analysis of integrated reporting," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 241-251.

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