Measuring progress, true wealth, and well-being
The Social Progress Imperative published the Social Progress Index 2017, which measures countries’ performance on social and environmental aspects. The 2017 index ranks 128 countries on 12 components, each comprising between 3 and 5 indicators and grouped under three dimensions: basic human needs, foundations of well-being and opportunity. The 2017 report also shows the evolution of social progress over time, indicating a general improvement in social progress but significant differences between countries as well as across components. Access to information, communications and higher education have improved significantly, while personal rights, safety and inclusion have declined. Additionally, outdoor air pollution continues to drive mortality globally. The results show that despite there being a positive correlation between economic development and social progress, it is not a linear one and income level does not represent the sole determinant. Denmark presents the highest overall social performance in 2017.
The IESE Business School Centre for Globalisation and Strategy released the Cities in Motion Index 2017. The overarching aim of the initiative is to promote a model for urban development which integrates four considerations: a sustainable ecosystem, innovative activities, equity among citizens and a connected territory. This fourth edition of the report covers 180 cities (of which 73 are capitals) in 80 countries, utilising 79 indicators. The indicators are grouped in 10 dimensions, covering issues such as international outreach, mobility and transport, and environmental indicators The cities are ranked overall, across the 10 dimensions, and by region, using the same methodology as previous editions. The best overall performing cities in 2017 are New York, London and Paris.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) released the report “World Health Statistics 2017: Monitoring health for the SDGs”. The 2017 report, covering 194 member countries, provides health data, including health coverage and access to services and expenditures. The first part gives details of the WHO’s work on improving health systems globally. The second part plays particular attention to 21 health related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets. The third part looks at success stories from countries which have improved their health performance in one of the WHO’s six lines of priority action. For example, one success story examines Ireland’s experience in reducing mortality from non-communicable diseases by 42% between 2000 and 2015, particularly by reducing air pollution.
The University of Manchester (Inclusive Growth Analysis Unit) and Joseph Rowntree Foundation published the 2017 edition of the Inclusive Growth Monitor. This initiative provides a measure of the relationship between economic inclusion and prosperity, beyond the existing measures of economic growth. The 2017 report covers the period 2010-15 and presents findings from UK's 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships, a group of geographically defined areas formed in 2011 with the aim of analysing the economic growth priorities and job creation issues in these areas. In view of capturing the link between ‘Economic Inclusion’ and ‘Prosperity’, the Monitor looks at three dimensions in each: income, living costs and labour market inclusion in the former theme, and output growth, employment and human capital in the latter. Each dimension is determined by three indicators which are scored as 0 or 1, with 1 being the maximum score. One of the study’s conclusions is that increases in prosperity are not necessarily associated with greater inclusion.
Gallup and Sharecare in conjunction with TIME magazine carried out a research project analysing the extent to which income can buy happiness. The research was based on 450,000 interviews with randomly selected U.S. adults across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The respondents were asked questions regarding their feelings of happiness, enjoyment and smiling/laughter. The research led to the conclusion that income does buy happiness up to a certain point. In general, in the US, the chance of experiencing the above mentioned positive emotions inevitably increases with household income but reaches a limit at approximately $75,000 per year. The results indicate that the link between different income levels and the chance of experiencing positive emotions may be influenced by cost of living, even though not in all cases.
ANDI community (ANDI is an incorporated member-owned initiative of leading community organisations, peak bodies, businesses, faith-based organisations, researchers, and independent, non-partisan grassroots citizens) released the Australian National Development Index (ANDI). ANDI is a holistic measure of national progress and wellbeing which goes beyond GDP and is based on twelve domains, ranging from community and regional life, environment and sustainability, to health, subjective well-being and life satisfaction, among others. The set of social, health, economic and environmental factors can provide an overview of Australia’s well-being, contributing to the promotion of sustainable well-being. The index represents a tool for citizens to understand what really matters for their well-being and how society is doing over time. Similarly, the index can inform governments and policy makers on the impacts of their actions and decisions.
The UK Office for National Statistics has released a well-being indicator set which assesses the quality of life for young people (aged 16 to 24). By using 28 indicators, the set of indicators covers both objective and subjective data and provides a picture of how young people are doing in the areas which are relevant to their current and future well-being. Change in quality of life is assessed by looking at the change in the short (compared to previous year) and medium term (over a 3-year period). The analysis shows that overall quality of life for young people has either improved or remained stable. Nevertheless, some aspects related to risk of poverty, mental health and well-being, as well as social support available have deteriorated.
Following the adoption of the 2017 Economic and Financial Document (Documento di Economia e Finanza, DEF), Italy is now the first country of the EU and of the G7 to include BES (Benessere Equo e Solidale - fair and sustainable well-being) indicators within its economic programme, in addition to GDP. Pending the decision from the Committee of equitable and sustainable indicators on the selected BES indicators, the Government has decided to include in the budget cycle a first set of four indicators: average disposable income, inequality indicator, labour force participation arte, and emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. For each indicator, the DEF will present its development over the past three years and a forecast of its future evolution.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published a new Dashboard of well-being to support the National Well-being Programme. It replaces the well-being wheel that has become less suited to the challenges of presenting UK progress and pprovides a visual overview of data. Change is assessed over a short (1 year) and long term (3 years) basis across 43 indicators and 10 domains: personal well-being, relationships, health, what we do, where we live, personal finance, economy, education and skills, governance, and environment. The latest update of the dashboard shows that areas of improvements include satisfaction with jobs, health and leisure, whereas the proportion reporting low anxiety, and recycled waste from households have deteriorated
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network presented the US Cities Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Index, which covers 100 cities in the US, accounting for 70% of the population. Progress towards sustainable development is assessed based on data related to 53 indicators covering 16 of the 17 SDGs. Each indicator is scored from 0 to 100, with 100 being the best possible score. By providing an America-centric overview of sustainable development at the local level, the index aims to encourage local level action and set light on best practices. Provo-Orem in Utah results the best-performing city, while city regions like Detroit-Warren-Dearborn present the lowest scores. Overall, results show that all US cities have far to go to reach the SDGs.
The Swiss Federal Statistical Office published a selection of 48 MONET indicators, presenting a first attempt to monitor the 17 SDGs in Switzerland. Progress towards the goals is based on a positive, negative or neutral indication of change across a total of 48 indicators for the 17 goals. For some goals, including “Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”, Switzerland scores poorly in more than one indicator. This preliminary monitoring, still provisional and incomplete, will be adapted and enriched by an extension of the MONET system which is currently being developed. The first results of this work will be published in early 2018.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network published the 2017 World Happiness report on the International Day of Happiness. 155 countries were ranked by their happiness levels from 2014 to 2016. The fifth edition focuses on the role of social factors in supporting happiness, with a special chapter on happiness at the workplace. Moreover, China and Africa are explored in more detail. Among the factors affecting happiness, six of them contributed to three quarters of the total variation across time and countries: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity. Norway tops the global happiness ranking, followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland, all scoring highly on the main factors supporting happiness.
The Federal Chancellery of Austria and the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs released the "Implementation of Agenda 2030 by Austria 2016" report which aims to promote public discourse and to serve as a preparation support for Austria’s reporting to the United Nationals High Level Political Forum on the SDGs. It contains three chapters; the first provides context on the SDGs, the second looks at Austria’s current progress towards the 17 goals of the SDGs, with some initial presentation of data and the final chapter looks at Austria’s responsibility towards, and contribution to, international dimensions of sustainable development, including climate change. With regards to the SDG indicators and monitoring, the report explains that Statistik Austria will develop a national indicator set in 2017, with the intention to provide time series of progress from 2015 as well as EU comparisons on their website.
At its 48th session meeting, the UN Statistical Commission adopted the global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert-Group, the framework includes an initial set of indicators which will be reviewed and refined yearly by the Statistical Commission. The global monitoring framework will allow the international community to monitor the progress towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals at global level. During the same session, the Commission also adopted the Cape Town Global Action Plan which called for the commitment of governments, policy leaders and the international community to work together in order to achieve better data for the SDGs.
The Dubai Declaration titled “A commitment to city data as the universal language” was adopted at the 2017 WCCD Global Cities Summit. The Summit was organized by the General Secretariat of the Executive Council of Dubai, in partnership with the World Council on City Data (WCCD), and hosted 50 cities from around the world. The Declaration recognises the importance of cities around the world to take steps towards sustainability, resilience and prosperity. The aim is to bring forward three critically important agendas for 2030: inclusive cities, smart nations and a sustainable planet. Cities and city level data play a crucial role in ensuring citizens’ quality of life, as well as achieving a national, smart agenda for economic development and reaching sustainable development globally.
The Swedish agency for economic and regional growth (Tillväxtverket) and Reglab, a forum which promotes regional development in Sweden, have developed an extended measurement of sustainable development and quality of life in Swedish regions, the so-called Gross Regional Product Plus (BRP+). The work is currently ongoing to develop and visualize indicators in the framework. In total, the BRP+ is composed of 16 dimensions, 12 of which are linked to quality of life, borrowing the conceptual framework from the OECD’s Better Life Initiative. The remaining 4 “Future themes” are focused on sustainability over time in each of the capital domains: natural, economic, human, and social.
The Polish Council of Ministers has approved a resolution on the Responsible Development Strategy which will support Poland’s engagement with the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The realization of the strategy aims at increasing the income of the Polish population, while improving social, economic, environmental and territorial cohesion. The strategy lays down a new development model for Poland’s objectives and goals to be achieved by 2020 and 2030 and indicates the way in which they should be achieved. The strategy is based on 7 priority pillars covering also sustainable development based on solidarity (for example the 500+ Programme). The document enables both its implementation and the monitoring of the process through the use of 72 indicators. Approximately 185 strategic and flagship projects are to be undertaken and 705 actions are currently under way in different institutions.
The Belgian Bureau Fédéral du Plan (BFP /Federal Planning Bureau) has published its report on Complementary Indicators to GDP, which aims at measuring people’s wellbeing and societal development at the federal level, as requested by the Law adopted on 14th March 2014. The 2017 report illustrates trends for 67 indicators grouped in 13 themes, and the aim is to show their evolution over time. Compared to the first edition from 2016, the 2017 report includes four additional indicators, among which are the marine areas in Natura 2000 and the victims of natural catastrophes. Moreover, the analysis includes international comparisons, breakdowns by income level and information on the quality of indicators.
The UN-Habitat’s City Prosperity Initiative (CPI) enables city authorities, as well as local and national stakeholders, to make their cities more prosperous, identifying opportunities and potential areas of intervention. The initiative provides a metric, a policy dialogue and a monitoring framework for more than 300 cities. More specifically the CPI can provide a global framework for indicators and targets for Sustainable Development Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and identifies the City Prosperity Index. This composite index comprises 72 indicators, linked to both the SDGs and New Urban Agenda, grouped into 6 domains: productivity, infrastructure development, quality of life, equity and social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and urban governance and legislation. The index measures how cities create and distribute socio-economic benefits or prosperity and the overall achievements through the six categories.
The new German Sustainability Strategy explicitly aligns the country’s development ambitions with the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as part of the country’s commitment to 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The strategy builds on the revision of a draft report launched in May 2016 and the results of a public consultation. The strategy identifies 63 key indicators (compared to 61 in the draft strategy), allocating at least one indicator per goal. The Federal Statistical Office will report on progress towards these indicators every 2 years, and the strategy itself will be reviewed every four years. According to the report, 27 indicators show a positive status, whilst 29 indicate negative trends or status. For 7 indicators it is not yet possible to report on progress.
The report released by Oxfam analyses global income and wealth data, it looks at how the gap between the rich and the poor has reached extreme levels and what can be done to address it. According to the report, key drivers are imbalances in privilege and power in the economy. The richest 1% have accumulated more wealth than the rest of the world put together. In contrast, the wealth of the bottom half of humanity has fallen by over a trillion dollars in the past five years. Such figures call for action to tackle the inequality crisis which is undermining growth and social cohesion. Despite the global impact of the inequality crisis, poor people result to be hit by the most severe consequences, challenging the fight against poverty.
The World Economic Forum has published the 2017 Inclusive Growth and Development Report which aims at assessing progress towards a socially inclusive economic growth in 109 countries. The report presents a new set of national Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), covering growth and development, inclusion, and intergenerational equity and sustainability. The report also presents the Inclusive Development Index (IDI), an aggregation of the KPIs, which provide a more comprehensive picture of national performance compared to GDP alone. Some countries score better on the IDI than on the basis of GDP per capita, implying that they are performing well on inclusive growth; for other countries an IDI lower than GDP per capita indicates that the economic growth has not translated into social inclusion.
CBS (Statistics Netherlands) has conducted a baseline measurement of Netherlands’ progress in achieving the targets set by the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It represents the first attempt of measuring progress towards the SDG indicators in the Netherlands, setting a starting point for a debate between different parties, including policy assessment organizations, knowledge institutions etc. The country is progressing towards the achievement of the targets but there are some areas of concern, particularly in the climate, energy and inequality domains. However the report does not provide a complete description of the SDGs Agenda, as only 33 percent of the total list of SDG indicators have been used, suggesting the need to invest in further research and data collection.