ESI : Environmental Sustainable Index

Research Team: Akshai Abraham, Ashish Kumar Chicksena, Koyel Mandal, Manasi Pathak, Snehashis Sarkar,Jessica Seddon, Rupanwita Dash, Kadambari Anantram, Vivek Venkataramani
LEAD Centre: Centre for Development Finance ( CDF)
Focus Area: Environment and Climate Change
Project Geography: India
Partner:
Status: Completed

Background:

The Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) of Indian states gives a comparative picture of the environmental conditions of the states of India and state and projects the ability of the states to protect their environment in the coming years by accumulating information from a wide range of sectors in terms of water, air, soil, forest and other natural resources and more importantly by taking into consideration the outcomes of past and present policy efforts and civil society’s activities.

ESI is a composite index that tries to capture the state of the environment in multiple dimensions, aggregates it into a single index that is interpretable and comparable across all the states. Sub-indices (Indicators and Policy Components) enable states to get a more nuanced picture of their performance. The rankings are relative and done on a scale of 0 to 100, allowing for states to see how well they are doing in comparison to other states. A state with higher ESI ranking means it has managed its natural resource stock judiciously; face less stress on it environment systems and less impact on human health. On the contrary, a state with lower ESI indicates that it has depleted its stock of natural resources and has accumulated waste and pollution which has created stress on ecosystem and human health.

Objectives:
•    Quantify environmental sustainability, measure it along multiple dimensions and aggregate into simple interpretable index.
•    Facilitate benchmarking for cross-state comparison and create a baseline for tracking environmental sustainability.

Impact of the Study:
Through the ESI report and the interactive website (greenindiastandards.com), wide range of information is compressed into a simple and actionable format, thereby enabling governments to plan and formulate policies and prioritize budgetary allocations in favor of areas where intervention is most urgently required. At the same time it shows the magnitude of pollution and depletion of resources, which should be a signal for various stakeholders to pay more attention to their environmental footprints and should create competitive pressure for improved performance. Such exercises can serve as a background resource for policy planning and formulation and budgetary allocation and should be useful for decision-makers, especially at the state level. The ESI should be informative for all individuals and institutions working in environment-related sectors.

Online Portal:
ESF also developed the online portal www.greenindiastandards.com. The website provides an interactive display of the annually-updated ESI study. The ESI map generates environmental profiles of each state in detail showing the dimensions where they have done well and areas which need improvement. It allows users to compare their state to others on the overall index as well as on specific dimensions, and to experiment with different ways to combine various indicators of environmental quality to form an aggregate ranking. Google.org funds were used to support the creation of the initial site, ESF is undertaking maintenance and expansion.

Related Resources
WEBSITE – Environment Sustainability Index for Indian States
REPORT – EnvironmentSustainability Index for Indian States 2008
BRIEF – Brief ESI 2008
REPORT – Environmental Sustainability Index 2011 for Indian States
BRIEF – Brief ESI 2011
PROJECT SUMMARY – Best Practices: Environmental Sustainability Index 2011