Box 32 Satisfying measurability without neglecting communicability The Wellbeing of Nations

The indexes of the Wellbeing of Nations: A Country-by-Country Index of Quality of Life and the Environment are developed along a hierarchical system of indicators, subelements, elements, dimensions, and subsystems. Two subsystems are divided into five elements of measurement each:

• People: health and population, wealth, knowledge and culture, community, and equity

• Ecosystem: land, water, air, species and genes, and resource use

For the sake of aggregation, a normalization method (i.e., the relationship to best and worst observed values) is used to obtain performance scores on a 0-100 scale. Different methods of weighting are used on the level of the subelements and elements, whereas the two subsystems are assigned identical weights. Four indices were calculated: the Human Wellbeing Index (HWI, i.e., the people subsystem), the Ecosystem Wellbeing Index (EWI, i.e., the ecosystem subsystem), the Wellbeing Index (WI, i.e., representing the average of EWI and HWI), and the Wellbeing/ Stress Index (i.e., ratio of human well-being to ecosystem stress).

The intention of the Wellbeing of Nations is to compare countries and emphasize the trade-offs between the two subsystems (people and ecosystems) on which countries build their development. It ranked Sweden as the best performing among 180 countries (in 2001) although it considers Sweden an ecosystem-deficit country because its people dimension's excellent performance is obtained at a high environmental cost.

For more information, see

IUCN Web site: Robert Prescott-Allen (2001). The Wellbeing of Nations: A Country-by-

Country Index of Quality of Life and the Environment. Washington, DC:

Island Press.

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