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On Thursday, December 1, 2011, the new edition of the FEEM Sustainability Index (FEEM SI 2011) was presented and discussed at FEEM headquarters in Milan.

At a time when the energy and climate concerns are placing sustainability at the core of global policies, the big challenge is maintaining sustained growth in developing countries, feeding the hunger for energy of emerging economies and providing access to energy in the poorest world regions,  matching economic growth with social and environmental protection. The FEEM SI provides a unique and precious instrument to assess the sustainability of development policies. Building upon the existing literature in this field of research and addressing the need to go ‘beyond GDP’ in the assessment of sustainability, the FEEM SI is an aggregate index which, thanks to its foundations in a recursive-dynamic computable general equilibrium model, provides future projections of sustainability across world countries and over time. Among the several methodological advances of the FEEM SI 2011, that include data updates and the extension of indicators to new domains such as economic exposure, population density and social vulnerability – namely energy security – a novelty of particular interest consists of the methodology used to assign weights to indicators, based on experts’ elicitation techniques.

The FEEM SI  2011 ‘World Sustainability Ranking’ confirms that Scandinavian countries, and more broadly Northern countries, perform best, while the South of the world trails behind with very poor sustainability. Italy ranks 25th with a low sustainability under both its economic, social and environmental components. Simulations of alternative policy scenarios show that world sustainability would benefit from a joint implementation of environmental and social policies. As suggested by Prof. E. Giovannini, a more exhaustive assessment of the social dimension of sustainability remains  a key issue to be addressed, possibly with the inclusion of a ‘governance’ perspective.

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