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Integrating Mainstream Economic Indicators with Sustainable Development Objectives (IN-STREAM)


Integrating Mainstream Economic Indicators with Sustainable Development Objectives (IN-STREAM)

Research Program

Mainstream economic indicators such as GDP are useful measures with great influence on public and private decisions, but they are flawed as measures of human welfare and give little feedback on progress on environmental goals and sustainable development. This project, through both qualitative and quantitative analysis, aimed to develop new recommendation for indicators that measure progress in economic success, human well-being, environmental protection, and long-term sustainability.

The EU is committed to enhancing the economic prospects and human well-being of Europe’s people. To assist in this, key economic indicators of each Member State are closely watched as a means of assessing the performance, structure, and growth of the market economy.

The IN-STREAM project undertakes the qualitative and quantitative assessments necessary for linking mainstream economic indicators with key well-being and sustainability indicators, providing needed insight into the synergies and trade-offs implicit in Europe's simultaneous pursuit of economic growth and environmental sustainability. Based on qualitative and quantitative analyses, recommendations for new indicators will be proposed. Recommended indicators will be those that perform best in terms of their robustness, feasibility and suitability to EU policy objectives. Strategies for implementing these approaches will be identified and developed in consultation with stakeholders.

The project is in cooperation with seven other organizations, with Ecologic Institute as the coordinator. Ecologic Institute is also in charge of reviewing existing measures in an EU context, and awareness and dissemination. The 3-year project has the following goals:

  1. Evaluate key indicators and indicator efforts
  2. Evaluate institutional needs and opportunities
  3. Improve quantitative models linking indicators
  4. Assess the costs of reaching sustainability targets
  5. Recommend composite indicator approaches and implementation strategies.

On 8-9 February 2011, a workshop on sustainability indicators (focus on biodiversity) took place in Brussels in an joint event with the OPEN:EU  project. The event was organised by the Ecologic Institute and the Institute for European Environmental Policy.

On 7 April 2011, a workshop on sustainability indicators (focus on resource efficiency) took place in Prague. The event was organised by the Charles University Environment Center (CUEC) and focused on resource efficiency policy. The presentations [pdf, English] are available for download.

On 7 July 2011, a workshop on sustainability indicators (focus on green growth and green innovation) will take place in Berlin (Germany). This event is organised by the Ecologic institute. It aims to discuss and share experiences on how to improve the use of indicators to assess the progresses on economic and sustainability goals, with a focus on green growth and green innovation policies. Here is the agenda [pdf, 476 KB, English].

The project is funded by the European Commission, DG Research under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).


More content from this project

Lucas Porsch
Project ID
indicators, sustainable development, economics, GDP, econometric analysis, environmental policy