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Environmental indicators: what are they, types and examples

Sometimes we are walking down the streets of big cities and we are not aware of the amount of greenhouse gases that we are breathing. We also bathe in rivers or beaches of which we do not know what the quality of their waters is, or we take walks through the countryside without knowing if the soil we step on is contaminated. Nowadays, thanks to the environmental quality indicators, we can know the environmental state of our environment and be able to make an evaluation of it in order to improve it.

If you want to know what environmental indicators, their types and examples , then continue reading this AgroCorrn article in which we will talk about all this in a practical way.

You may also be interested in: What is an environmental aspect and examples
  1. What are environmental indicators
  2. Environmental indicators: characteristics
  3. Types of environmental indicators
  4. Examples of environmental indicators
  5. Sustainable Economic Well-being Index (IBES)
  6. Human development index (HDI)
  7. Environmental sustainability index (ISA)
  8. Environmental performance index (EPI)
  9. Global Green Economy Index (GGEI)
  10. Ecological footprint (HE)
  11. Living Planet Index (LPI)
  12. Carbon footprint
  13. Water footprint

What are environmental indicators

An environmental indicator is a measure that can be of physical, chemical, biological, social or economic origin, which allows evaluating all available environmental information , in order to reflect the conditions in which the environment is found or a particular environmental factor. , at a certain time and place.

They can be quantitative or qualitative depending on how they are measured and appreciated. The quantitative environmental indicators are based on parameters that give information about a phenomenon. In contrast, qualitative environmental indicators focus more on observations and perceptions.

Environmental indicators: characteristics

Environmental indicators must have certain characteristics and comply with them, since they are an instrument that influences the evaluation to make political decisions about the environment, to the management of a company to become as sustainable as possible. Among the characteristics of the environmental indicators are:

  • They must evaluate quality and reliable data.
  • Be easy to handle and understand.
  • That they can predict if there will be any negative evolution.
  • Its cost must be balanced with its effectiveness.
  • Be sensitive to changes.
  • Be specific so that different interpretations are not given.

Types of environmental indicators

Environmental indicators, depending on the data that are available, can be classified into different types. These are the three types of environmental indicators that exist

  • Type I: for this type of indicator, the data are always available since they are obtained thanks to permanent monitoring.
  • Type ll: they are based on calculations of data that come from permanent monitoring, but they need additional data since the data may be totally or partially available.
  • Type lll: they do not have any mathematical basis nor are they based on data that is available. They are conceptual indicators.

Examples of environmental indicators

Now that you know well what environmental indicators are, their characteristics and types, we are going to show some of them. These are some examples of environmental indicators :

  • Sustainable Economic Well-being Index (IBES).
  • Human development index (HDI).
  • Environmental sustainability index (ISA)
  • Environmental performance index (EPI).
  • Global Green Economy Index (GGEI).
  • Ecological footprint (HE).
  • Living Planet Index (LPI).
  • Carbon footprint.
  • Water footprint.

Sustainable Economic Well-being Index (IBES)

This indicator refers to the sustainability of the well-being of a population and was designed by Herman Daly and John Cobb. Variables such as adjusted consumption and a measure of socioeconomic inequality are added to it, through the Gini coefficient .

It has two values, 0 and 1, with which it indicates equality and inequality respectively, to factors such as the level of education, health of the population, access to goods and services of another type, among others. It is an indicator with great value since with it sustainable development policies can be evaluated.

Human development index (HDI)

Analyze how human beings are in terms of their health, education and economic wealth . Health is evaluated depending on life expectancy at birth, education taking into account the years of schooling expected of children up to compulsory education and of adults over 25 years of age. Finally, wealth is measured by GNI per capita.

Environmental sustainability index (ISA)

The Environmental Sustainability Index (ISA) has 67 variables structured in 5 components that have 22 environmental factors. Some of the factors that have been evaluated are:

  • Emissions and concentration of pollutants .
  • The use of agrochemicals.
  • The quality and volume of water.
  • Population growth.
  • Consumption and energy efficiency.

Environmental performance index (EPI)

The environmental indicator known as the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) , makes an evaluation to quantify the environmental performance of the various policies that a country has implemented in a certain period of time. In this way, it is possible to know the impact of these policies on the environment in that area and see what should be corrected in this regard.

Global Green Economy Index (GGEI)

The global green economy indicator or GGEI , for its acronym in English, was born in 2010 by the international consultancy Dula Citizen.

This well-known consultancy published a report in which it analyzed the changes and investments that more than 80 countries are making to direct their economies towards more respectful and sustainable ones with the environment .

Ecological footprint (HE)

This indicator assesses the environmental impact generated by the demand for natural resources by human beings to satisfy their needs. This indicator is related to the carrying capacity of the planet, that is, the capacity of the earth to regenerate its resources. Currently, the average ecological footprint worldwide is 2.2 hectares for every human being, when it should be 1.8 hectares. This means that we exceed the carrying capacity and we do not allow the planet to regenerate. This indicator is actually more realistic at the country level, since some first world countries brazenly surpass it such as Australia (9.3), the United States (8.2) or Japan (5). However, countries like Colombia have an ecological footprint of 1.9.

We recommend these other articles on Ecological footprint: simple definition and How to reduce the ecological footprint .

Living Planet Index (LPI)

It is designed by the World Wildlife Fund International (WWF). This index measures the abundance of wild species on the planet, monitoring the number of global populations of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish.

Carbon footprint

The carbon footprint indicates the amount of greenhouse gases that a person, company, industry or city produces directly or indirectly. For this, it is necessary to make an inventory of emissions, defining the scope:

  • Scope 1: in this scope, direct emissions are valued since it is linked to direct consumption of primary energy, that used for distribution.
  • Scope 2: this would include indirect emissions, those emissions generated by indirect energy consumption, electricity to have the vending machines plugged in and also for the reusable glass, the energy consumed by the store while it is open.
  • Scope 3: this scope includes the emissions that come from the energy injected for the production process.

For example, in the case of a product from an industry, it would be necessary to make it its life cycle, measuring all the gases emitted in all the manufacturing processes. You can expand this information with these other AgroCorrn articles on What is the carbon footprint and How to reduce my carbon footprint .

Water footprint

To quantify the use of water , the environmental indicator called the water footprint is used, which can quantify the use linked to a person, a product, a company, a country, etc. There are three types of water footprints depending on the origin of the water or the state it has after use:

  • Blue water footprint: this water comes from underground or surface water bodies.
  • Green water footprint: it is the water that comes from the rain and is stored in the ground if it becomes runoff, this can be used in the production of a product.
  • Gray water footprint: it is the water that is contaminated after having been used, an example would be wastewater.

Here you can learn more about what is the water footprint .

If you want to read more articles similar to Environmental indicators: what they are, types and examples , we recommend that you enter our category of Other environment .

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Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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