The industrial age has brought us much good: a higher quality of life which is reflected in better healthcare and education, a longer life expectancy etc. But besides the indisputable benefits, the industrial age has also caused many problems which are now assuming global proportions. In 1987 UN Commission on Environment and Development attempted to propose how to enable people and whole nations to develop while sustaining functioning ecosystems and healthy environment. The key term became “sustainable development”. But problem with sustainable development concept is that it is so vague and “all-embracing”. Its biggest deficiency is the fact that it fails to attempt to even define human needs. The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 conference, June 2012) did not change current unsustainable development trends. Therefore we should allow for and ponder the possibility that effort at sustainable development will fail and the human community will experience great civilization turbulence. Maybe it is too late for sustainable development, what we need is a sustainable retreat. Our abilities are limited and promoting sustainable development may prove to be beyond us. In comparison with our ancestors we have much greater opportunities. But this has not been counterbalanced by greater responsibility and foresight. We should explore and study future opportunities and dangers that could occur under certain conditions. These images of possible futures may help to make our present decisions more qualified and responsible.
The vagueness of the concept of ‘sustainable development’ ceased to serve as a consensus platform and instead became a source of controversy. Therefore an instrument is needed to measure whether we are striving towards sustainable development or not. Today the most widely used indicator of economic prosperity is gross domestic product (GDP). It is often incorrectly interpreted as an indicator of quality of life. If, however, GDP is considered to be quality-of-life indicator, it is a misleading indicator as GDP does not cover the services people conduct outside the official market. As a result, environmentalists together with economists have long been cooperating in designing an alternative indicator capable of better capturing the development of society. Even though GDP is good for measuring economic performance, it is highly misleading as an indicator of the quality and sustainability of life. This article describes briefly the most relevant alternative indicators to GDP developed during last two decades including Czech and Slovak methodology of the Quality and Sustainability of Life Index.
The potential development of the Czech Republic is discussed in this paper by using the State of the Future Index (SOFI). This is the only index currently used worldwide that focuses not only on the present (unlike the Human Development Index and others), but also on the future development of opportunities and threats. The paper presents the computation of partial indices focusing economic, demographic, social and environmental factors, where the selection of indicators that enter the computations, including their weighting, is the outcome of a survey conducted among regional development and sustainability experts and academics.