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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.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 71 (2011)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 99-110

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:71:y:2011:i:c:p:99-110
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.08.008
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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  1. Dietz, Simon & Neumayer, Eric, 2007. "Weak and strong sustainability in the SEEA: Concepts and measurement," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(4), pages 617-626, March.
  2. Ang, Frederic & Van Passel, Steven, 2010. "The Sustainable Value approach: A clarifying and constructive comment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(12), pages 2303-2306, October.
  3. Frank Figge & Tobias Hahn, 2004. "Value-oriented impact assessment: the economics of a new approach to impact assessment," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(6), pages 921-941.
  4. Ekins, Paul & Simon, Sandrine & Deutsch, Lisa & Folke, Carl & De Groot, Rudolf, 2003. "A framework for the practical application of the concepts of critical natural capital and strong sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2-3), pages 165-185, March.
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  7. Van Passel, Steven & Nevens, Frank & Mathijs, Erik & Van Huylenbroeck, Guido, 2007. "Measuring farm sustainability and explaining differences in sustainable efficiency," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 149-161, April.
  8. Kuosmanen, Timo & Kuosmanen, Natalia, 2009. "How not to measure sustainable value (and how one might)," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 235-243, December.
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  11. Figge, Frank & Hahn, Tobias, 2004. "Sustainable Value Added--measuring corporate contributions to sustainability beyond eco-efficiency," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 173-187, February.
  12. Peter Lindert, 2004. "Social Spending and Economic Growth," Challenge, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 47(4), pages 6-16, July.
  13. Sueyoshi, Toshiyuki & Goto, Mika, 2009. "Can R&D expenditure avoid corporate bankruptcy? Comparison between Japanese machinery and electric equipment industries using DEA-discriminant analysis," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 196(1), pages 289-311, July.
  14. Wackernagel, Mathis & Rees, William E., 1997. "Perceptual and structural barriers to investing in natural capital: Economics from an ecological footprint perspective," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 3-24, January.
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