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Sustainable Society Index

The Sustainable Society Index, SSI, shows at a glance the level of sustainability of each of the 151 assessed countries, included in the SSI. It shows in a simple way the distance to full sustainability for each of the 24 indicators that build up the SSI.[1] The SSI is used for monitoring the progress of a country on its way to sustainability, for setting priorities with respect to sustainability, to make comparisons between countries, for education purposes and for further research and development.


File:Framework SSI2010.gif
The framework of the SSI, redesigned after a thorough evaluation

The SSI has been developed by the Sustainable Society Foundation in order to provide the public at large as well as politicians and authorities, with a transparent and easy tool to measure how sustainable a society is. The SSI is based on the Brundtland definition and is built up by 24 indicators. These can be aggregated into 8 categories, the 3 wellbeing dimensions and finally into one overall index.

Three wellbeing dimensions

The Sustainable Society Index, SSI, is one of the very few indexes which includes all three wellbeing dimensions: Human, Environmental and Economic Wellbeing. The first two dimensions are goals to be achieved: full sustainability for Human and Environmental Wellbeing. It is not one or the other, it is both. Human Wellbeing without Environmental Wellbeing has no perspective. Mankind would not be able to survive very long. And Environmental Wellbeing without Human Wellbeing makes no sense, at least not from an anthropocentric point of view. On the other hand, Economic Wellbeing is not a goal. It is necessary to enable progress on the way towards sustainability and to achieve full sustainability. So all three dimensions of wellbeing have to be included.

2010 edition

File:Spiderweb 2010.gif
The scores of the 24 indicators are presented in a spider web. The outer circle represents full sustainability, i.e. a score of 10. The centre of the web represents no sustainability at all, a score of 0.

The recent third edition of the SSI shows that the world at large is way behind sustainability. The average score of all 151 countries is 5.9. This is 40% below the required level. Moreover the world makes little progress over the past four years since the first edition of the SSI in 2006: the overall SSI-score increased from 5.8 in 2006 to 5.9 in 2010. At this pace, it would take 160 years to achieve full sustainability. The score of 5.9 is an average score, calculated from the 24 indicators. It is necessary to look at the underlying figures since an average score levels out the extremes.

The scores for the three wellbeing dimensions clearly show that both Human Wellbeing and Environmental Wellbeing are way below full sustainability. Moreover, since Economic Wellbeing scores even much lower, the world is not prepared to make progress on the way towards sustainability. On the contrary. One may expect that the average score of the world will appear to be in decline, when the next update of the SSI will have been calculated in 2012.

Some indicators show high scores, for instance Sufficient Food and Sufficient to Drink. However, since these are average scores, a score of just above 8 for these indicators mean that about 20% of the world population – 1.5 billion – do not have enough food or safe drinking water. Two indicators present very low scores, Organic Farming and Consumption of Renewable Energy.


  1. ^ "Sustainable Society Foundation". Retrieved 23 August 2013. 

External links

  • Geurt van de Kerk and Arthur Manuel, A comprehensive index for a sustainable society: The SSI – the Sustainable Society Index. Ecological Economics, Vol (2008) 66(2–3), pages 228–242