Why another Index?

At present, there are numerous indexes available that measure in many different ways. All of these have indicators, produced from data, to simplify complex and detailed information. Indicators are extremely important, but must be suitable in how they impact on policy and public awareness. Indexes can be made up of a diverse arrangement of indicators. These require turning data measured in different ways into numbers which can be used to compose indices. Many popular indexes have been put together to produce snapshots of our planet’s global condition and some examples are the Ecological Footprint Index (EF), the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) and the Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI) to name a few. All of these have played substantial roles in stimulating discussion and directly communicating their importance. They provide regional and global snapshots of the state of our planet and importantly, influence policy-makers. However, there are three inevitable biases inherent in most existing sustainability indexes, namely monetary, human-centric, and short-term perspective on the environment.

Biases can arise from a direct and instant demand to measure current environmental / societal performance. To overcome these limitations observed in existing indicators, the HPI puts forward a different analytical framework, independent of the existing political and economic systems, and based on historical facts that fundamentally support the web of life. We propose a Humanosphere Potentiality Index (HPI) developed from an analytical framework called the Humanosphere. We are inspired to expand and build upon on Amartya Sen’s capability approach* with the aim of bridging the existing divide between socio-economic and environmental approaches toward sustainability to reassess global potentiality.

* The Nobel memorial prize winner in Economic Sciences, Amartya Sen, has referred to a person’s capability as an alternative combination of functionings, i.e. the various things a person may value doing or being feasible for them to achieve.