Measuring progress, true wealth, and well-being
According to the Global Footprint Network, in 2018, Earth Overshoot Day is on the 1st August. Earth Overshoot Day is defined as the day on which humanity has used its resource budget for an entire year. This means that for 2018 humanity has used natural resources on the planet 1.7 times faster than they are regenerated. The day is calculated annually by the Global Footprint Network, an international research organisation. August 1st is the earliest “overshoot date” since 1970 when the planet first went into overshoot. Calculations are based on Ecological Footprint Accounting, which combines different pressures on the biosphere. Key drivers of overshoot include deforestation, collapsing fish stocks, fresh water scarcity, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, and GHG emissions. The populations of many European countries including Germany, the UK and France all consume at rates which would require at least 2.8 earths if the world’s population had the same consumption patterns, demonstrating global inequalities in natural resource use.
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has published the Sustainable Economic Development Assessment (SEDA) The SEDA was first published in 2012 with the aim of assessing what policy areas deserve attention to support economic growth and wellbeing simultaneously . The 2018 edition of the study covers 152 countries, and the methodology is based on 3 categories of wellbeing (economics, investments and sustainability), which are collectively covered by 10 dimensions using 40 publicly available indicators (by comparison the 2012 SEDA was based on 51 indicators). The category of sustainability covers equality, civil society, governance and environment. Additional analysis is given for the “Global Powerhouses” which are the biggest 25 economies and the largest 25 populations (36 countries in total). A wealth-to-well-being coefficient is used to assess how effectively one country’s level of gross national income (GNI) per capita is converted into their given SEDA score. Overall the report shows that wellbeing has improved in the world over the past decade, and that investing in education and employment can most support wellbeing in advanced countries. However, the report also highlights that air quality and carbon emissions have worsened in most countries. The report concludes that pursuing the twin objectives of growth and wellbeing should be the basis of long term development.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Bertelsmann Stiftung have published the 2018 SDG index and Dashboards Results. The third edition of the annual report, provides a composite measure of progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It provides data for all 193 UN member countries, with 156 countries covered by the index, and applies 88 indicators. This year’s analysis includes 10 completely new indicators and replaces several other indicators. The best performing countries in the index are Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The report also includes the first assessment of government actions for the SDGs, with close attention to the G20 countries. The main conclusion is that no country is on track to achieving the goals by 2030. Brazil, Mexico and Italy stand out as having SDG strategies. Overall, Russian Federation and the United States have taken the last measures to implement the goals.
The Sustainable Development Goals Centre for Africa in partnership with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network launched the 2018 Africa SDGs Index and Dashboards Report. The tool supports and informs national governments, as well as businesses, multilateral organizations and citizens, on the progress towards the SDGs and identifies priorities for development. The SDG index ranks 51 African states on 97 indicators across all 17 SDGs. Morocco tops the ranking with an outcome of 66/100, meaning that it is 66% of the way to achieving the SDGs. The SDG Dashboard shows that the main challenges faced by African countries are related primarily to the achievement of SDG 3, 9 and 16 followed by SDG 2, 7 and 14. Only for SDG 13, 15 and 12 some good performance was recorded.
The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 follows the recently published advance report of the UN Secretary-General titled “Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals”. The 2018 report, based on the global indicator framework developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) and adopted by the UN General Assembly in July 2017, provides an overview of progress on the 17 SDGs, with a particular focus on the six Goals under review at the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development of July 2018. Results show that progress so far has not been rapid enough to reach the goals and targets by 2030, in particular on issues such as youth unemployment, conflicts, climate change and inequality. This calls for immediate and accelerated action by countries and stakeholders at all levels. In addition, the report emphasises the importance, as well as the challenges, of collecting, analysing and disseminating reliable data to provide evidence on our path towards the SDGs and to promote better evidence-based policymaking.
Australia’s Voluntary National Review (VNR), published by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, provides a national overview of Australia’s implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) since their adoption in 2016. The report addresses each SDG through a narrative approach. Central in the report is the Australian value of a “fair go”, based on the idea that everyone should be treated equally and fairly. The report goes beyond government initiatives and activity, and outlines the efforts of the business sector, as well as civil society, academia, communities and individuals in contributing to the achievement of the SDGs. Collecting and reporting data on SDGs provides evidence for national policy-making. To this end, the Australian Government has set up an SDG data platform and a reporting platform.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network released the 2018 U.S. Cities SDG Index which provides an overview of the state of sustainable development in U.S. cities. The Index covers the 100 most populated city regions within the U.S., which are home to 66% of the domestic population. This composite index is based on 44 indicators, which aim to cover 15 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The concept and methodology for the index are based on the 2017 edition and the SDSN Global SDG Index. In 2018, the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro region in California tops the ranking for the second year in a row. Persistent problems for U.S. cities include access to healthcare, obesity, income inequality and violent crime. This report is intended to serve as a tool for U.S. cities to track their progress over time, relative to an international standard of sustainable development.
The IESE Business SchoolCentre for Globalisation and Strategy at the University of Navarra released the Cities in Motion Index 2018. The overarching aim of the initiative is to promote and assess progress towards a model for urban development which integrates four considerations: a sustainable ecosystem, innovative activities, social cohesion and a connected territory. The fifth edition of the report covers 165 cities (of which 74 are capitals) in 80 countries, utilising 83 indicators. This index features some key differences with respect to previous editions, including 13 new cities and 5 additional indicators. The indicators are grouped in 9 dimensions: human capital, social cohesion, the economy, governance, the environment, international outreach, mobility and transport, urban planning and technology. Cities are ranked overall, across the 9 dimensions, and by region, using the same methodology as previous editions. According to the index the best overall performing cities in 2018 are New York, London and Paris.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) released the report “World Health Statistics 2018: Monitoring health for the SDGs”. The report, covering 194 member countries, provides health data, including health coverage and access to services and expenditures. The first part describes the data used and provides an overview of their compilation, processing and analysis. The second part summarises the current status of selected health-related SDG indicators at global and regional levels, based on data available as of early 2018. The third part illustrates the three strategic priorities of achieving universal health coverage (UHC), addressing health emergencies and promoting healthier populations through several case studies. Results demonstrate that less than half of the people in the world today get all of the health services they need, while close to 13 million people die every year before the age of 70 from cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer – mostly in low and middle-income countries.
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has issued an advanced and unedited version of the results of the yearly report on progress towards the SDGs, The report is based on selected SDG indicators for which data were available, using the latest data as of 10 May 2018. The report aims to inform the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July 2018. The global indicator framework used in the report was developed by the UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators and adopted by the UN General Assembly in July 2017. For each of the 17 SDGs, the Secretary-General’s report provides an overview paragraph on progress, including descriptions of statistical trends for the targets under each Goal (according to data availability). The report stresses the need to strengthen the capacities of national statistical systems and ensure quality, accessible, open, timely and disaggregated data.
The World Bank published the Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2018, a visual guide to the national and regional trends, challenges and measurement issues related to each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The Atlas features maps and data visualizations, primarily drawn from World Development Indicators (WDI) - the World Bank’s compilation of internationally comparable statistics about global development and the quality of people’s lives. These indicators show that despite increasing urbanization, many countries have reduced the share of urban dwellers living in slums. Nonetheless, one-third of food produced for human consumption is still lost or wasted.
Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Dutch government’s statistical body, has published the first “Monitor of Well-being” report. This report is based on 21 indicators of broad well-being (Brede Welvaart) trends (or BWTs). At the request of the Dutch government, CBS will publish the Monitor of Well-being report on an annual basis. The approach taken considers three dimensions of wellbeing, wellbeing here and now, future wellbeing, and wellbeing elsewhere – which considers the impact of Dutch wellbeing on other countries. Each of the three dimensions is comprised of multiple indicators. Looking at the wellbeing here and now dimension, the Netherlands shows improvement with only 3 of the 21 indicators having deteriorated since 2010 – share of overweight people, satisfaction with leisure, and total area of protected areas. Regarding future wellbeing, the report highlights the notable deterioration of the country’s natural capital, including the state of natural resources and nature, as well as an increase in the greenhouse gas footprint. In relation to wellbeing elsewhere, the indicators show that the Netherlands is reliant on imports of fossil fuels and biomass from the rest of the world.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific published the Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2017, assessing the progress in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets in Asia and the Pacific. Despite some gaps in data and indicators, the report analyses regional and sub-regional progress, as well as associated disparities among income groups countries. Drawing on the analysis of 66 indicators (60 global SDG indicators and 6 proxy indicators) the report identifies clear patterns of progress and regression. The results show poor progress in terms of reducing inequalities, access to justice and environmental protection, in contrast to progress made in eradicating poverty and improving good health and wellbeing. The report is an invaluable resource for all stakeholders involved in the prioritisation, planning, implementation, follow up and review of the SDGs in Asia and the Pacific.
Established in 2011, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation is a project led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in concert with 161 countries, 56 international organisations, and additional partners across the public and private sectors. In March 2018, the project launched the Global Partnership’s Dashboard which aims at monitoring partnership across SDGs. The dashboard, which includes 10 indicators, is designed to: monitor progress of recipient programs, countries and cities; identify trends in the performance on indicators and SDGs; compare performance; identify the areas where and reasons why funding is not producing the intended results.
The French Government and the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) published the report on the new wealth indicators (Nouveaux Indicateurs de richesse). The indicators are also included in the progress report on French economy. The ten 'new wealth indicators’, first adopted in 2015, include employment, public debt, research expenses, income inequality, life satisfaction, and carbon footprint, soil sealing and GHG emissions among others. These indicators highlight three major themes at the core of the public agenda: preparation for the future, social cohesion, and quality of life. The report is intended to provide the basis for ensuring greater accountability from governmental action.
The Belgian Federal Planning Bureau (BFP) has published the 2018 Report on Complementary Indicators to GDP, an annual publication showing the evolution of complementary indicators to GDP during 1990-2016. Compared to the 2017 version, some of the indicators have been replaced or removed and the current version now counts 63 indicators categorised under 13 themes. The 2018 report shows overall improvements for indicators on education, work environment, climate and natural resources. In contrast, data show a decline for some indicators, including the ones on health, poverty, and transportation. There is also an increasing level of disparity between different societal groups. The report proposes a composite index to measure well-being “Here and Now” – building on six indicators that measure health, access to goods, work, and social benefits, as social and educational support – which will be further developed in future editions.
The Thriving Places Index was developed by Happy City, a UK based charity with the mission of “making what matters count”, in cooperation with the New Economics Foundation and with support from Triodos Bank. The index, building on the Happy City Index, aims at providing local decision-makers in England with information on the factors that determine wellbeing, based on a participatory approach. The report shows the results of the first national pilot of this tool, reporting on how areas across England are performing in the development of the multi-dimensional conditions necessary for an equitable and sustainable wellbeing. The index comprises 48 indicators representing the factors which determine people’s wellbeing. The indicators are grouped into three headline elements: sustainability, local conditions, and equality. A key finding of the report is that you are more likely to find good quality education and employment in urban areas, whilst rural areas benefit from stronger communities and better health.
The Changing Wealth of Nations 2018: Building a Sustainable Future is part of the World Bank’s effort to measure national wealth and changes in wealth, building on two previous books: Where is the Wealth of Nations? Measuring Capital for the 21st century (2006) and The Changing Wealth of Nations: Measuring Sustainable Development in the new Millennium (2011). In the book, wealth is reported for 141 countries between 1995 and 2014 as the sum of produced capital and urban land, natural capital, human capital, and net foreign assets. From the previous editions, progress had been made in the measurement of wealth including substantial improvements in estimates of natural capital and the use for the first time of household surveys to measure human capital. In this way, the analysis goes beyond the standard measures of economic performance, such as GDP and GNI. Data show that while global wealth has increased by 66% in the recorded period, per capital wealth has not and inequality in overall wealth still persists.
Researchers from Yale and Columbia Universities in collaboration with the World Economic Forum published the 2018 Environmental Performance Index. The biennial report scores 180 countries on 24 performance indicators across ten categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality. The report argues that air quality is the leading environmental threat to public health. Beyond income, good governance and policies are a fundamental factor in environmental success. The EPI offers a scorecard that highlights leaders and laggards in environmental performance, gives insight on best practices, and provides guidance for countries that aspire to be leaders in sustainability. In general, high scorers exhibit long-standing commitments to protecting public health, preserving natural resources, and decoupling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from economic activity. Results show that Switzerland leads the world on sustainability, followed by France, Denmark, Malta and Sweden. Improvements in the 2018 EPI data and methodology have generated new rankings.
The European Commission has adopted the EU monitoring framework for the circular economy (presented jointly with other initiatives on circular economy, including the Europe-wide strategy on plastics). The framework, based on the Circular Economy Action Plan, aims to measure progress and to assess the effectiveness of action towards the circular economy in the EU and Member States. It includes ten indicators covering the four areas of circular economy: production & consumption, waste management, secondary raw materials, and competitiveness & innovation. The indicators build on existing Resource Efficiency and Raw Materials Scoreboards Indicators show that waste recycling is overall increasing in the EU, however the recycled materials only meet roughly 10% of EU demand for materials despite gradual improvement since 2014.
Statistics Netherlands, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) have jointly published the report “The circular economy: starting progress measurement in the Netherlands”. In the context of the government programme “A Circular Economy in the Netherlands by 2050”, the report provides a draft monitoring system to measure progress on the transition of the Netherlands towards a circular economy., with the aim of identifying successes and failures in the transition, from public authorities and other relevant sectors. Among the indicators included are greenhouse gas emissions, raw material consumption and waste processing. The system will be further developed in view of better tacking the transition process.