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Human wellbeing and the health of the environment: local indicators that balance the scales
journal contributionposted on 2019-12-01, 00:00 authored by Rebecca Patrick, Amy Shaw, A Freeman, Claire Henderson-WilsonClaire Henderson-Wilson, Justin LawsonJustin Lawson, M Davison, Teresa CapetolaTeresa Capetola, Ka Fai Calvin Lee
Human wellbeing is inextricably linked to the health of the environment. In the Anthropocene, new measures of progress are required to support high levels of human health and quality of life whilst ensuring a sustainable, healthy environment. The sustainable development goals (SDGs), New Urban Agenda, and Paris Agreement on Climate Change provide the global mandates for change; however, localised actions and indicators are required to bring this to fruition. Taking the position that human wellbeing and health of environment need to be equitable partners, it is proposed that local level composite indicators, which securely bind human health to the health of the environment, are required to support local actions to achieve the SDGs. This paper examines twelve current indices that aim to measure sustainable progress and critiques their ability to securely bond human wellbeing with the health of the environment and their potential as local level indices. Out of these indices, we propose the Happy Planet Index, a composite index developed by the New Economics Foundation, as a suitable index that achieves this goal. Using locally or regionally relevant datasets, the Happy Planet Index can be modified to mobilise conversations and drive actions towards achieving the SDGs where human wellbeing and health of the environment are conceptually linked.