The lab is running a multi-year research program with a Māori Land Trust in New Zealand, bringing rigorous quantitative analysis to bear on the empirical measurement of sustainable development.
Sustainable development is a well-established theoretical concept in environment and resource economics, requiring a population to invest new capital at least as rapidly as they are removed or damaged. This core sustainable development principle aligns with the traditional Māori value kaitiakitanga, which means guardianship of natural resources. However, it has yet to be determined if this condition is met in any real world scenarios.
Achieving sustainable development requires that we are able to quantitatively monitor economic, environmental, and even social conditions and decisions in real time. Doing so will provide decision-makers the information needed to evaluate the costs and benefits of management choices as they arise. While firms track their accounting revenues and costs, financial accounting does not measure natural or social capital nor the costs of negative externalities like pollution.
Our team is designing, developing, and deploying a system to quantify and monitor management decisions at a full-scale mixed agricultural-industrial site. Our findings and innovations will advance our understanding of how sustainable development can be effectively achieved at the firm level, with the goal of similar systems being developed and deployed around the world.