Best Practices: Environmental Sustainability Index 2011

The Environmental Sustainability Index is a step towards mapping sustainability levels of Indian states, while estimating their ability to balance economic development with environmental concerns. 

Increasing importance is being given to the integration of consideration for the environment into economic development in policy-making processes. However, a deficiency of data, particularly in India, obstructs the policy-making process. Key stakeholders such as policy makers, private sector, and NGOs lack access to focused information on various sustainability issues at the both state and national level. The objective of this study was to develop an Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) as a means to bridge this knowledge gap. The ESI, formulated as a diagnostic tool to empower researchers, policy makers, activists and citizens, seeks to fulfil three primary objectives: (i) provide information to enable evidence-based policy making, (ii) facilitate prioritisation of budget allocation between various resource sectors, and (iii) measure and monitor sustainable development at the state level over time. This study is an effort towards mapping sustainability levels of all Indian states, while projecting their ability to protect the environment in the future.

ESI compares the states across six peer groups; created on the basis of GDP per capita and contribution to India s GDP. Sub index analysis of peer groups reveals a pattern; similar environmental issues are being faced by states with comparable growth trajectories. Consequently, a deeper analysis of successful sectoral policies is initiated to enhance knowledge about policy initiatives and outcomes at state level. 


The Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) of Indian states gives a comparative picture of the environmental conditions across states. Such exercises can provide valuable inputs to inform policy planning, formulation and budgetary allocation. 

Thematic Area

Institutions and Society

Project Leads

Manasi Pathak, Kadambari Anantram, Vivek Venkataramani