Sustainability strategies debated

11 August 2000

Academics, officials and NGO representatives heard a range of prominent speakers at the Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics-Europe in late June. French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin opened the meeting with an appeal that “strategies to combat poverty and inequality should not be limited to safety nets to minimise the impact of economic policies”.

The Bretton Woods Project co-organised a workshop on National Strategies for Sustainable Development: Conflicting Approaches at the event. Kirk Hamilton, World Bank Senior Environmental Economist, opened the meeting by presenting his latest work on “genuine savings”, the concept used by the World Bank to adjust national income to reflect sustainability concerns.

Martin O’Connor, Professor of Economics at the University of Versailles responded with a paper emphasising that “it is crucial to reflect on the development concepts underlying greened national accounts”. He urged analysts to separate out commercializable natural assets from well-being prospects related to maintenance of key environmental functions. He urged further attention to the strong linkages between local community infrastructures, informal and unpaid labour and local ecosystem integrity and the dependence of national economies on the world community for primary energy, water, agricultural land, fisheries and absorption of toxic wastes, and other pollutants. The discussants were Paul Steele of the UK Department for International Development and Fander Falconi of the Universitat Autonoma, Barcelona.

Full notes and papers will be available on

Also available from Bretton Woods Project:

  • a new english translation of Fander Falconi’s article: Indicators of Weak Sustainable Development: A Pale Reflection of a More Complex Reality;
  • The World Bank’s Genuine Savings Indicator: a Useful Measure of Sustainability?, Bretton Woods Project, December, 1999.