The Changing Wealth of Nations: measuring sustainable development in the New Millennium
Close to one third of the wealth of low-income countries comes from their “natural capital” which includes forests, protected areas, agricultural lands, energy and minerals, according to a new World Bank book launched on January 20, 2011. Countries that manage these natural assets carefully are able to move up the development ladder – investing more and more in manufactured capital, infrastructure and “intangible capital” like human skills and education, strong institutions, innovation and new technologies.
In 2005, the total economic value of natural assets was $44 trillion worldwide, or $7,000 per person on average while “intangible” capital accounted for the greatest component of total wealth – worth a massive $540 trillion worldwide in 2005.
The Changing Wealth of Nations – a follow-up publication to the 2006 book, Where is the Wealth of Nations? – extends the principles of wealth accounting to include dimensions that go beyond the standard Gross Domestic Product calculations undertaken by finance ministries. It presents, for the first time, a set of “wealth accounts” for over 150 countries for 1995, 2000, and 2005 which allows a longer-term assessment of global, regional and country performance in building wealth.
World Bank (Gianni Ruta, co-author). January 2011. The Changing Wealth of Nations: measuring sustainable development in the New Millennium. World Bank, Washington DC.