Green growth and sustainable development

Green growth indicators


Policies that promote green growth need to be founded on a good understanding of the different factors that affect green growth, and appropriate information is needed to monitor progress and measure results.

Monitoring progress towards green growth requires indicators based on internationally comparable data. These need to be embedded in a conceptual framework and selected according to well specified criteria.  Ultimately, they need to be capable of sending clear messages which speak to policy makers and the public at large.

As part of its Green Growth Strategy, the OECD has developed a conceptual framework and indicators that help governments monitor progress towards green growth.


» VIEW: Green Growth Indicators 2014 report

» COMPARE YOUR COUNTRY: data visualisation tool for Green Growth Indicators

» FOCUS: Joint report on Green Growth Indicators Moving Towards a Common Approach on Green Growth Indicators (PDF), GGGI, OECD, UNEP and World Bank (April 2013).


Sample OECD green growth indicators now online.


OECD green growth indicators in practice

The Green Growth Indicators 2014 updates the 2011 Towards Green Growth: Monitoring progress. It presents the OECD framework for monitoring progress towards green growth and a selection of updated indicators that illustrate the progress that OECD countries have made since the 1990s.

Moreover, countries like Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Korea, the Netherlands and the Slovak Republic have already applied and adjusted the OECD green growth measurement framework and indicators to their specific national contexts to assess their state of green growth. With the support of OECD, the Latin America Development Bank, the Latin American and the Caribbean Economic System and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, work is underway in Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay and Peru to apply the OECD indicators as a way to identify key areas of national concern and the scope for improving the design, choice and performance of policy instruments. Please see here for the workshop on green growth indicators in Latin American countries which took place in June 2012.


Green Growth Indicators in the Slovak Republic 2014

Slovak Republic

Front cover of the report Green growth indicators for Slovenia 2014




Czech Republic

Green Production in Denmark


Green Growth indicators in Germany



Green growth indicators database

The database contains selected indicators for monitoring progress towards green growth to support policy making and inform the public at large. The indicators draw upon the OECD's expertise with statistics, indicators and measures of progress. The dataset covers OECD countries as well as BRIICS economies (Brazil, Russian Federation, India, Indonesia, China and South Africa), Argentina and Saudi Arabia for a time period from 1990 to the most recent years available.

The indicators have been selected according to well specified criteria and embedded in a conceptual framework, which is structured around four groups to capture the main features of green growth:

  • Environmental and resource productivity, to indicate whether economic growth is becoming greener with more efficient use of natural capital and to capture aspects of production which are rarely quantified in economic models and accounting frameworks;
  • The natural asset base, to indicate the risks to growth from a declining natural asset base;
  • Environmental quality of life, to indicate how environmental conditions affect the quality of life and wellbeing of people;
  • Economic opportunities and policy responses, to indicate the effectiveness of policies in delivering green growth and describe the societal responses needed to secure business and employment opportunities.

The proposed set of indicators comprises about twenty-five indicators, not all of them are measurable today. The multi-dimensional nature of green growth requires a sufficient number of indicators to do justice to the various aspects of the issue at hand. But a large dashboard also carries the danger of losing a clear message that speaks to policy makers and helps communicating with the media and with citizens. A small set of ‘headline’ indicators is therefore being selected. These indicators should be able to track central elements of green growth and be representative of a broader set of green growth issues.

For further details on the methodology, please see Towards Green Growth: Monitoring Progress: OECD Indicators.

Measurement agenda

Measurement issues constrain the full and timely production of green growth indicators. A central element of the work on indicators thus is the measurement agenda that addresses the most pressing data development needs.

While there is a substantive amount of economic and environmental data, it is often difficult to combine them due to differences in classifications, terminology or timeliness. A first ingredient of the measurement agenda is to develop an environment-economy accounting framework to maximise consistency and international comparability. The System of Environmental and Economic Accounting (SEEA) will provide such a framework.

The preliminary set of green growth indicators also reveals important gaps in the information base. Efforts are in particular needed to:

  • Fill gaps in environmental-economic data at the industry level.
  • Develop and improve the physical data for key stocks and flows of natural assets. Prominent examples are information on land resources and non-energy mineral resources that often constitute critical inputs into production.
  • Further develop physical data to help improve material flow analyses.
  • Improve information on biodiversity.
  • Developing monetary values to reflect prices and quantities for (changes in) key stocks and flows of natural assets. Such valuations, even if incomplete and imperfect are required for extended growth accounting models, more comprehensive balance sheets and for adjusted measures of real income.
  • Produce information on how environmental concerns trigger innovation in companies.
  • Develop indicators on environmental regulation to complement indicators on economic instruments.
  • Improve measures on both the objective and the subjective dimensions of quality of life, in particular measures of environmentally induced health problems and related costs; and public perceptions.


Green economy indicators

Several other international bodies have embarked on work on green growth, with somewhat different objectives than the OECD work. International co-operation is essential to achieve synergies and advance knowledge about the measurement of green growth.

The UNEP-led Green Economy Initiative, launched in 2008, provides analysis and guidance to countries on policy reforms and investments to achieve a green transformation of key sectors of the economy. The Green Economy Report was released in February 2011.

As part of the Initiative, a framework for assessing progress in moving towards a green economy is being developed. This framework on indicators and metrics, which will present options to governments and other stakeholders, will form part of the advisory services on green economy offered to governments by UNEP.

The framework for green economy indicators comprises three principal areas:

  • “Green transformation of key sectors and the economy” focusing on investments in a green transformation of various sectors of the economy, and their associated share in output and employment.
  • “Decoupling and Efficiency” assessing resource efficiency and productivity, and the decoupling of economic activity from resource use and related environmental impacts, at both sector and economy-wide levels, building on the work of the International Resource Panel.
  • “Aggregate indicators of progress and well-being” referring to various initiatives on overall measures of economic progress and well-being, including poverty alleviation and natural capital depreciation.

Depending on level of economic development and natural resource use, countries may choose to prioritise different sets of indicators.

Overview of proposed indicator groups and topics covered

 Main indicator groups Topics covered

Related OECD work

The socio-economic context and characteristics of growth

Economic growth,
and competitiveness

Economic growth and structure


Productivity and trade


Inflation and commodity prices

Labour markets, education and income  

 Labour markets
(employment / unemployment)


Socio-demographic patterns


Income and education 


Environmental and resource productivity 

Carbon and energy productivity   1. CO2 productivity
(demand-based, production-based)  
  2. Energy productivity
Resource productivity 
   3. Material productivity
(demand-based, production-based)
 Non-energy materials, waste materials, nutrients
  4. Water productivity
Multi-factor productivity
  5. Multi-factor productivity
reflecting environmental services
Natural asset base
Renewable stocks   6. Freshwater resources
  7. Forest resources 
  8. Fish resources
 Non-renewable stocks   9. Mineral resources  
Biodiversity and
10. Land resources  
  11. Soil resources   
  12. Wildlife resources   
Environmental quality of life   
Environmental health and risks 

13. Environmentally induced health problems and related costs


14. Exposure to natural or industrial risks and related economic losses

Environmental services and amenities

15. Access to sewage treatment and drinking water

Economic opportunities and policy responses 

Technology and innovation


16. R&D of importance to GG 


17. Patents of importance to GG


18. Environment related innovation


Relevant OECD work for monitoring progress towards green growth

The indicators needed to measure progress with green growth are founded on existing OECD work that is being refined to suit the Green Growth Strategy.

Measuring environmental performance and resource productivity 

The OECD has developed several sets of environmental indicators to support policy analysis and country reviews: key and core environmental indicators to track environmental progress; sectoral environmental indicators to monitor policy integration; and indicators to measure the decoupling of environmental pressures from economic growth. The indicators are supplemented with environmental data, including on environmentally related taxes and expenditure. Recent work has been focusing on the measurement of material flows and resource productivity in support of an OECD Council recommendation and of the G8 Kobe 3R Action Plan.


Monitoring trends in energy use and efficiency 


The IEA maintains several databases, including energy balances, energy statistics, energy prices and taxes, and publishes various types of energy indicators. Recent work has been focusing on the measurement of energy efficiency in support of the G8 Gleneagles Plan of Action for Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development and on improving mandatory reporting of energy efficiency-related data.

Monitoring technology developments and innovation 

The OECD maintains several databases and indicator sets keeping track of developments in technology and industrial performance: main science and technology indicators; indicators on the information economy, globalisation, and entrepreneurship; international patent database, input-output tables and estimates of carbon embedded in trade. Recent work has been focusing on indicators in support of the OECD Innovation Strategy, and on an indicator toolkit to promote and monitor sustainable manufacturing at corporate level.

Measuring the environmental performance of agriculture

The economic and environmental performance of agriculture is monitored through a set of agri-environmental indicators, supported with the measurement of agricultural producer support.

Monitoring international transfers 


The OECD maintains two major databases monitoring international monetary transfers: international investment flows and official development assistance. Recent work aims at developing indicators of “green” foreign direct investment flows and at mapping relevant international investment flows by country and sector of destination.

Measuring sustainable development 

The OECD has been promoting the development of indicators and coherent approaches to measure sustainable development. Recent work has been focusing on improving the measurement of different types of capital with emphasis on human and social capital.

Measuring well-being and progress 


The OECD promotes the development of better measures and indicators of people’s well-being and societal progress, to be used alongside standard economic measures such as GDP. Recent work aims at implementing the recommendations of the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission with emphasis on well-being and sustainability.

Other relevant work 


To underpin its socio-economic analysis, the OECD further maintains databases on a wide range of other topics that are important to characterise economic growth and its outcomes. Examples include: national accounts, international trade, balance of payments, prices and taxes, productivity, government debt, employment, education, health, etc.

 Further reading

» Environmental Statistics