Handbook of Environmental Accounting
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Handbook of Environmental Accounting

Edited by Thomas Aronsson and Karl-Gustaf Löfgren

This concise Handbook examines welfare measurement problems in a dynamic economy, focusing on the welfare-economic foundations for social accounting.
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Chapter 6: How are Green National Accounts Produced in Practice?

Eva Samakovlis


Eva Samakovlis 1 INTRODUCTION During the last part of the twentieth century, the effect of human activity upon the environment became an important policy issue. There is now a growing concern about how economic activity affects the environment and it has become increasingly recognised that economic growth is dependent upon the provision of environmental services. To be able to combine economic growth with a healthy environment in terms of a sustainable use of natural resources, a better understanding of the relationships between economy and ecology needs to be developed. The awareness that economic development and environmental aspects cannot be treated separately was the background to the Brundtland Commission, formally the World Commission on Environment and Development set up by the United Nations (UN) in 1983. The commission was created to address the concern about the accelerating deterioration of the environment and its consequences for economic and social development. According to the Brundtland report, sustainable development is largely about the allocation of resources within and between generations (United Nations, 1987). One of the most often cited definitions of sustainability was adopted by the commission, that ‘Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.1 How to measure sustainable development was, however, never conveyed by the Commission and has proven to be remarkably difficult. The early discussions on sustainable development departed from capital stocks, and gave two views on how certain types of capital can replace each other:...

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