Monitoring Environmental Progress

World Bank 1995 ground-breaking work on wealth metrics

"The 83-page study redefines the concept of 'sustainable development,' arguing that it has less to do with meeting present and future "needs" than with making sure that future generations have as much or more capital to create jobs and income as they have now... Mr. O'Connor says the key to sustainable development is managing the four components of national wealth with long-term growth in mind. That means being less concerned with cash flow at any given moment and more concerned with sustaining and increasing a country's net worth."

Christian Science Monitor, September 18, 1995

"...the report reinforces what is becoming increasingly apparent in a global economy: Old ways of thinking about economics may lead to disaster. Resources need to be protected. People need to be invested in. And wealth isn't measured by production alone... [T]he report's principal author, John O'Connor, developed data that show buildings, roads, infrastructure and other produced assets don't determine whether a nation is truly wealthy."

USA Today, September 18, 1995

The [World] Bank's ambitious new report...provides potent ammunition for those who argue that sustainable development turns on factors that often get short shrift from economics. The study "Monitoring Environmental Progress" is already being hailed as a model that could help to refocus development strategies."

New York Times, September 19, 1995

"...a provocative new study...using a novel yardstick for gauging the wealth of nations and the potential for economic development. Downplaying traditional measures such as gross national product, the study gives new weight to natural resources, environmental protection, education, social flexibility and other generally undervalued assets that can be important instruments in long-term development."

TIME, October 8, 1995 (international edition) & 1995 Year in Review

"Conventional accounting overlooks the benefits of holding on to natural resources because they may become more valuable, as well as the economic benefits of health, nutrition and education, said John O'Connor, who led the team of World Bank economists."

Wall Street Journal, September 18, 1995

"The serious purpose of the research is to put flesh on the notoriously hazy concept of 'sustainable development.'"

Financial Times (London), September 18, 1995

"Along with its humanistic theme, the report has a strong streak of green. But the authors don't preach the kind of environmentalism that attempts to block economic growth... In practical terms, that means a trade-off: By investing the proceeds of the sale of resources into building human capital, the authors state, nations are 'giving future generations the same, if not more, opportunities than we found ourselves."

Washington Post, September 18, 1995

International Herald Tribune, September 23-24, 1995

"The new method, which Bank officials say could take years to perfect, is intended to show how successful a country is in improving the lives of its people. It also is designed to give a clearer picture of an economy's strengths and weaknesses."

The Guardian (London), September 20, 1995