BSL Introduces the Gap Frame: A Global Framework for a Better World

BSL’s Dean Dr. Katrin Muff announced the release of BSL’s newly developed Gap Frame in March 2016.

The Gap Frame provides a normative frame and a process for business to engage in industry analysis unlike anything that was ever available before. It is a national and global framework for business and other stakeholders to work towards a better world in a concrete and measurable way. The Gap Frame does two things: it identifies the burning issues of our times and it compares these issues against a normative ideal state that is required so that we can all live well and within the limits of this planet (Vision 2050, WBCSD).

The issues are derived from three TNS 3.0 frameworks (see the Muff/Dyllick Position paper on True National Sustainability). Namely: the two politically negotiated United Nations frameworks, the Sustainable Development Goals (2015) and the Agenda 21 (1992), as well as the Swiss Circle Indicateur (2005). In order to measure these issues, the Gap Frame uses only indicators that lend themselves to set ideal standards (% of reused and recycled municipal waste rather than the amount of waste). Using back-casting techniques, the Gap Frame starts from an ideal future value and then compares it with the worst in the world and establishes all measures according to a 10-point scale whereby 10 is best and 0 is worst. This normative scale allows a so far unique comparison of the current state of the world with a normative desired future state.

The unique value of the Gap Frame

The Gap Frame offers a valid and comprehensive new view on the four categories of sustainability:

–          Regarding the environment, the Gap Frame could become a lead indicator for the Global Footprint Report in the sense that countries that currently perform relatively well (such as China and India) might well be contenders for a considerable drop in ranking given their lack of attention paid to issues such as clean air, species, land management, energy and water.

–          Regarding society, the Gap Frame focuses its selection on indicators that should serve business to derive concrete action and business opportunities, not only in the developing but also in the developed world. The Gap Frame may have the feelers out for more subtle differences between currently measured and deeper underlying societal trends, as pointed out with the Japanese example, a country with quite serious underlying social issues that may not otherwise emerge.

–          In the economy category, the Gap Frame provides a more business focus beyond a country’s GDP by measuring  issues such as employment, resources and raw materials, sustainable consumption, sustainable production, and innovation & knowhow and thus enabling business to identify concrete action and business opportunities.

The novel way of comparing not just country performance among themselves, but indeed measuring a country’s performance in the context of where it should ideally be, is a most powerful tool for all those – business, civil society, governments and beyond, to identify relevant areas of concrete action and strategic priorities for innovation to solve these burning issues.

The Gap Frame provides us with an understanding of how the world or a particular country is doing as compared to where it should be, so that we can all live well and within the limits of the planet. Each of the underlying 69 indicators which serve to measure the 24 burning issues is measured on a scale from 0-10, with 10 being the desired ideal state and 0 being the current worst performance in the world.

We suggest that any value below 5 needs urgent action now (red), while an issue in the value range of 5.1-7 requires us to act now. Issues in the range of 7.1-9 require further observation and improvement; we call it “watch out”. There is currently no single issue in the sample of countries or in the world that merits an “OK”, for being in the range of 9.1-10. This reflects the reality of where we are – in trouble!

Learn more

> Download a complete overview of The Gap Frame, including methodology, overview of indicators, development of the tool, relation to the Sustainable Development Goals, and a Beta version for 14 representative countries and the world
> What can business do with the Gap Frame? (extract)
> What can countries do with the Gap Frame? (extract)