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Research article2011Peer reviewed

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. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Sustainable value; Eco-efficiency; Sustainability assessment; Weak sustainability; Strong sustainability

Published in

Ecological Economics
2011, Volume: 71, pages: 99-110 Publisher: ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV

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