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An aggregate resource efficiency perspective on sustainability: A Sustainable Value application to the EU-15 countries


  • Ang, Frederic
  • Van Passel, Steven
  • Mathijs, Erik


The Sustainable Value approach integrates the efficiency with regard to environmental, social and economic resources into a monetary indicator. It gained significant popularity as evidenced by diverse applications at the corporate level. However, its introduction as a measure adhering to the strong sustainability paradigm sparked an ardent debate. This study explores its validity as a macroeconomic strong sustainability measure by applying the Sustainable Value approach to the EU-15 countries. Concretely, we assessed environmental, social and economic resources in combination with the GDP for all EU-15 countries from 1995 to 2006 for three benchmark alternatives. The results show that several countries manage to adequately delink resource use from GDP growth. Furthermore, the remarkable difference in outcome between the national and EU-15 benchmark indicates a possible inefficiency of the current allocation of national resource ceilings imposed by the European institutions. Additionally, by using an effects model we argue that the service degree of the economy and governmental expenditures on social protection and research and development are important determinants of overall resource efficiency. Finally, we sketch out three necessary conditions to link the Sustainable Value approach to the strong sustainability paradigm.

Suggested Citation

  • Ang, Frederic & Van Passel, Steven & Mathijs, Erik, 2011. "An aggregate resource efficiency perspective on sustainability: A Sustainable Value application to the EU-15 countries," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 99-110.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:71:y:2011:i:c:p:99-110
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.08.008

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Merante, Paolo & Van Passel, Steven & Pacini, Cesare, 2015. "Using agro-environmental models to design a sustainable benchmark for the sustainable value method," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 1-13.
    2. Pacini, G. Cesare & Merante, Paolo & Lazzerini, Giulio & Van Passel, Steven, 2015. "Increasing the cost-effectiveness of EU agri-environment policy measures through evaluation of farm and field-level environmental and economic performance," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 70-78.
    3. Moretti, Michele & De Boni, Annalisa & Roma, Rocco & Fracchiolla, Mariano & Van Passel, Steven, 2016. "Integrated assessment of agro-ecological systems: The case study of the “Alta Murgia” National park in Italy," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 144-155.


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