Approach & Framework

The EII prototype which will be launched in 2020 will use data from a wide range of sources official and non-official - including from new technologies. The EII will be revised, expanded, and updated in subsequent years. Over time it will allow for year-on-year changes in countries’ environmental impact, but during the initial phase of this project the emphasis is on getting the index “right”.

  1. Outcome-driven metrics. The EII includes outcome-based measures of resource use and pollution relating to SDG achievement at the country level, as opposed to input-based measurement which translates efforts independently of the result. The EII considers both official metrics produced by national and international statistical offices, as well as unofficial metrics from the scientific literature and civil society.
  2. Benchmark resource used against planetary boundaries. In order to help inform domestic and international policy debates on sustainable consumption and production, the index is calculated based on internationally agreed targets, including the SDGs and the Paris Climate Change Agreement. For all metrics, time-bound thresholds have been identified using a decision tree described in Sachs and al, 2018. that need to be achieved in order to meet the SDGs and honor commitments made in the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Where possible, these thresholds are derived from existing intergovernmental agreements. Where these are lacking, they are derived from the scientific literature and consultation with experts on suitable science-based targets that can help countries understand the “distance to target.”
  3. Effects of international demand. Acknowledging the importance of international spillovers in understanding countries’ environmental impact, the EII includes suitable cross-border metrics, in most cases using Multi-Regional Input-Output tables (MRIOs).
  4. Data gaps and updates. The index also aims to inform the statistical community on persistent data gaps.

Preliminary framework

The framework used for the 2019 EII prototype was co-designed by experts from the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It includes 2 main pillars: Domestic and Spillovers (embodied in trade and physical flows). There are 4 sub-pillars (Climate, Pollution, Biodiversity and Natural Resources) which are the same for domestic and for spillovers. Below sub-pillars there are more specific components. Pollution includes nitrogen, air and waste; biodiversity includes biodiversity threats and protected areas and natural resources includes water, forest, fisheries and diets.

This is still work in progress and the framework might evolve based on the outcomes of additional consultations.