The purpose of this paper is to examine the framework and the methodology of the Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) developed by The World Economic Forums(WEF) Global Leaders for Tomorrow Environment Task Force. The process of this paper is to present some significant critics about the ESI and to suggest its improvement in measuring the environmental sustainability.
The ESI is to assess the ability of countries across the world to meet the environmental needs of their people and to achieve environmentally sustainable development. The 2002 ESI study included 142 counties. Population, area, variable coverage, and indicator coverage are considered as selection criteria. South Korea has quite poor ESI score of 35.9 (136th overall).
The ESI is an attempt to quantify the progress towards the environmental sustainability through a single meaningful index. While the validity of the index is reduced by insufficient data and lack of harmonization as well as inadequate data quality, the improved ESI plays an important role as an information tool to policy-makers, scientists, and the public.
Some significant critics are suggested as follows: data limitations, unsystematic architecture of index, methodological issues such as unrealistic weight, ambiguous conceptual framework. To improve the ESI, it is necessary to evolve data gathering and data creation, to develop more sophisticated methods for measuring and analyzing information, to select more plausible indicators and variables representing the sustainability, and to link the strategy of sustainable development to ESI.