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Resource Indicators for Sustainable Industries and Sustainable Industrial Development (RISI)

Picture Source: European Commission, DG Enterprise and Industry

Resource Indicators for Sustainable Industries and Sustainable Industrial Development (RISI)


Fostering sustainable industries and industrial development requires the use of effective indicators. Though a multitude of indicators exist, their applicability to sustainable industries remains largely unaddressed to date. In this project, Ecologic Institute reviewed scientific knowledge in order to evaluate existing indicators and derive recommendations concerning their usability and potential need for further indicator development. Ecologic Institute published a shorter version of the project results as a policy brief. The policy brief is available for download.

Increasing resource efficiency is one of the core themes of sustainable development, aiming to facilitate the improvement of socio-economic well-being while reducing resource use and its associated environmental impacts. Though in this context sustainable industries and sustainable industrial development must play a crucial role globally, both in alleviating poverty and in achieving development without adverse environmental impacts, they are still only marginally addressed.

This is reflected in the discussions towards supplementing and integrating the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be defined and agreed on in the course of the Rio+20 process.  Both MDGs and SDGs appear to lack specific targets for industries and industrial development.

While the MDGs outline concrete, partly quantifiable objectives to drastically reduce extreme poverty by 2015, they do not provide guidance or indicators on improving resource efficiency and in particular do not address the industrial sector. Though the SDGs proposed by the Governments of Colombia and Guatemala [pdf, 455 kB, English] include resources relevant to industries and industrial development (in particular water and energy), they make no reference to industries or industrial development.

However, sustainable development on a global level can only be achieved when industries and industrial development commit themselves to sustainable resource management and greater resource efficiency, for instance by improving resource efficiency in the consumption of natural resources for production processes. Therefore, it is increasingly being discussed to supplement the SDGs proposed for  Rio +20 with goals relating to sustainable industries and sustainable industrial development.

Effective indicators are necessary in order to monitor and measure the progress towards these goals. In this context, the scope of sustainable development requires indicators to cover the environmental, social and economic dimension of sustainability.

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More content from this project

Dr. Martin Hirschnitz-Garbers
Max Grünig
Lucas Porsch
Polly Hand
Project ID
resource efficiency, indicators, sustainable industries and sustainable industrial production