The development of global standards and metrics to measure the sustainability of consumption and production patterns was the focus of research conducted by Annick Anctil during a summer internship with the United Nations’ Department of Economics and Social Affairs in New York City.
Anctil, a Quebec City native who is currently a third-year doctoral candidate in sustainability at Rochester Institute of Technology, was part of a team that developed new computer models to better measure the economic, social and environmental impacts of the global tourism industry. The results will assist the U.N. in promoting sustainable tourism in developing countries.
Anctil also assisted the department, which reports directly to Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, in developing stronger metrics to assess sustainable consumption and production patterns.
“One of the main impediments to global sustainability is the lack of uniform metrics to govern process implementation, assess environmental impact and measure the effectiveness of sustainable technologies,” Anctil says. “It is my hope the development of better models and metrics will allow for improved measurement of the environmental impact of business operations and the processes being designed to mitigate these effects.”
Based partly on the department’s assessments and research, the U.N. hopes to release new policy recommendations related to sustainable consumption and production for the next Commission on Sustainable Development to be held in May 2010.
Anctil is part of the first class of students in RIT’s doctoral program in sustainability, one of the first in the world to focus on sustainable engineering and production. She would like to return to the U.N. to expand her research in the field following graduation.
“The development of more environmentally sound processes for the production and use of materials is incredibly important in the international effort to combat resource depletion, environmental degradation and climate change,” Anctil continues. “I would like to continue my efforts to assist the U.N. and the international community as a whole in developing new technologies and methods for addressing this central challenge to the ultimate goal of global sustainability.”