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From natural resources and environmental accounting to construction of indicators for sustainable development


  • Alfsen, Knut H.
  • Greaker, Mads


Norway has a long history in trying to develop management tools for sustainable development. From the early development of natural resources accounts in the 1980's, through discussions of the usefulness of indices like "green GDP" to efforts of developing sustainable development indicators, experiences have been gained. The paper seeks to both describe the landscape and discussions associated with the key terms, and to communicate some lessons drawn from the Norwegian experiences. The conclusion focuses on the fact that whatever information is collected and organised to support the relevant decision-making processes, the final outcome should always be judged in terms of its impacts on policy processes. Thus, we issue a warning against large-scale development of information systems, without due regard to the final utilisation of the output.
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Suggested Citation

  • Alfsen, Knut H. & Greaker, Mads, 2007. "From natural resources and environmental accounting to construction of indicators for sustainable development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(4), pages 600-610, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:61:y:2007:i:4:p:600-610

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aaheim, Asbjorn & Nyborg, Karine, 1995. "On the Interpretation and Applicability of a "Green National Product."," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 41(1), pages 57-71, March.
    2. William D. Nordhaus & James Tobin, 1973. "Is Growth Obsolete?," NBER Chapters,in: The Measurement of Economic and Social Performance, pages 509-564 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
      • William D. Nordhaus & James Tobin, 1972. "Is Growth Obsolete?," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Research: Retrospect and Prospect, Volume 5, Economic Growth, pages 1-80 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Knut Alfsen & Hans Sæbø, 1993. "Environmental quality indicators: Background, principles and examples from Norway," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 3(5), pages 415-435, October.
    4. Annegrete Bruvoll & Karin Ibenholt, 1996. "Future Waste Generation - Forecasts Based on a Macroeconomic Model," Discussion Papers 175, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    5. Julie L. Hass & Frode Brunvoll & Henning Hoie, 2002. "Overview of Sustainable Development Indicators used by National and International Agencies," OECD Statistics Working Papers 2002/2, OECD Publishing.
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    Cited by:

    1. Greaker, Mads & Stoknes, Per Espen & Alfsen, Knut H. & Ericson, Torgeir, 2013. "A Kantian approach to sustainable development indicators for climate change," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 10-18.
    2. Mariana MAN & Bogdan RAVAS & Maria MACRIS, 2012. "Environment Costs: Structure And Acknowledgement. Their Dynamics In Romania After The Integration Within The European Union," Internal Auditing and Risk Management, Athenaeum University of Bucharest, vol. 2(26), pages 62-85, June.
    3. Jian Zhang & Guishan Yang & Lijie Pu & Buzhuo Peng, 2014. "Trends and Spatial Distribution Characteristics of Sustainability in Eastern Anhui Province, China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(12), pages 1-17, November.
    4. Dovern, Jonas & Rickels, Wilfried & Quaas, Martin F., 2012. "Nachhaltigkeitspotenzial deutscher Städte," Kiel Policy Brief 50, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    5. Kristine Grimsrud & Lars Lindholt & Mads Greaker, 2015. "Resource Rent in Norwegian Fisheries. Trends and policies," Discussion Papers 827, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    6. Leontina Pavaloaia, 2012. "Overview of the Practical and Theoretical Approaches to the Estimation of Mineral Resources. A Financial Perspective," Acta Universitatis Danubius. OEconomica, Danubius University of Galati, issue 5(5), pages 104-117, October.
    7. Visbeck, Martin & Kronfeld-Goharani, Ulrike & Neumann, Barbara & Rickels, Wilfried & Schmidt, Jörn & van Doorn, Erik, 2013. "Establishing a sustainable development goal for oceans and coasts to face the challenges of our future ocean," Kiel Working Papers 1847, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    8. repec:eee:spacre:v:18:y:2015:i:1:p:44-54 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Samakovlis, Eva, 2008. "How are Green National Accounts Produced in Practice?," Working Papers 105, National Institute of Economic Research.
    10. Visbeck, Martin & Kronfeld-Goharani, Ulrike & Neumann, Barbara & Rickels, Wilfried & Schmidt, Jörn & van Doorn, Erik & Matz-Lück, Nele & Ott, Konrad & Quaas, Martin F., 2014. "Securing blue wealth: The need for a special sustainable development goal for the ocean and coasts," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 184-191.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation


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