The Beyond GDP initiative is about developing indicators that are as clear and appealing as GDP, but more inclusive of environmental and social aspects of progress.
This website updates on recent developments and ongoing work.
Eurostat has published the ‘Sustainable development in the European Union — 2022 monitoring report on progress towards the SDGs in an EU context'. The report builds on the EU SDG indicator set 2022 revision, better aligning with the 8th Environment Action Programme and the targets of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan.
The 2022 report shows that the EU continued to make the most progress towards fostering peace and personal security within its territory, improving access to justice as well as trust in institutions (SDG 16). Over the past five years significant progress was visible for the goals of reducing poverty and social exclusion (SDG 1), the economy and the labour market (SDG 8), clean and affordable energy (SDG 7) and innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9). Whereas, a slight movement away has been found for the goal on life on land (SDG 15), indicating that ecosystems and biodiversity remained under increasing pressure from human activities.
The 2022 report also features an analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on the SDGs as well as an improved analysis of spillover effects covering CO2 emissions, land footprint, material footprint and gross value added generated outside the EU by consumption inside the EU.
Eurostat published a new interactive visualisation tool showing statistics relevant for the European Green Deal, which is the first of the 6 European Commission priorities for 2019 – 24.
The tool presents an overview of 26 indicators, grouped into 3 main topics: ‘Reducing our climate impact’, ‘protecting our planet & health’ and ‘enabling a green & just transition’. The data are presented in an attractive way, regularly updated and available for the EU, Member States and EFTA countries. The user can access multiple functionalities.
The European Commission published the Transitions Performance Index (TPI) 2021, which measures progress towards a fair and prosperous sustainability, considering four dimensions (economic, social, environmental and governance). The new edition adds two new key features, an indicator on digitalisation to capture the role of digitalisation in the economy, and an indicator on material footprint to account for overall materials consumption. The index, based on 28 indicators, allows measuring progress towards the six priorities of the Commission and making countries benchmarking in the EU and beyond. It illustrates how each country performs on each of the four dimensions and provides an overall performance per country. The TPI is available for 72 countries representing 76% of the world population and is accompanied by 72 country profiles describing progress made over a period of ten years. Data show that most countries have not yet bent their curve towards green transition. All EU Member States present a good transition performance and most of them show progress rates since 2011 (4.9%) above the global average (4.3%). However no EU Member State leads across all four dimensions, and even for top achievers, there is significant scope for improvement.
The World Economic Forum published the Global Risks Report 2022.This year’s report is dominated by environmental risks.
Climate action failure, extreme weather events, and biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse were considered the top three of the top 10 global risks by severity over the next 10 years. Beyond environmental concerns, other top risks include livelihood crises, the erosion of social cohesion, and an uneven pandemic recovery. The report warns that the risks of growing social gaps will continue to be exacerbated by the pandemic, and experts caution that the global economic recovery will likely be uneven and potentially volatile over the coming years. Respondents also report a general sense of foreboding about the future: less than 16% are ‘optimistic’ or ‘positive’ about the outlook for the world.
The 17th Risks report delivers a strong message to overcome divisions and come together to face the short-, medium- and long-term global risks: the report encourages leaders to think outside the quarterly reporting cycle and create policies that “connect risk to strategy”.
Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) published the Europe Sustainable Development Report 2021, the third edition of SDSN independent quantitative report on the progress of the European Union and European countries towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The report shows significant international environmental and social spillovers generated by consumption of goods and service in the EU that must be addressed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) project published a special international study “Just How Resilient are OECD and EU Countries? Sustainable Governance in the Context of the COVID-19 Crisis”.
The comparative analysis reviews the crisis resilience in 29 OECD and EU countries during the first year of the pandemic. It is based on three indices: the Resilience of Policies Index, which measures the vulnerability of economic and social policies to the Covid-19 crisis as well as the economic and social policy responses to the crisis; the Resilience of Democracy Index, which measures the resilience of core democratic institutions; and the Resilience of Governance Index, which assesses how well prepared the executive branch is for handling the crisis and its aftermaths, its response to the crisis and its accountability. Among other things the study finds that well-organized democracies have so far navigated their way through the coronavirus crisis better than those with deficits in this area. These democracies have benefited from their forward-looking and participation-oriented approach to governance.
The European Economic and Social Committee adopted the own initiative opinion Beyond GDP measures for a successful recovery and a sustainable and resilient EU economy.
EESC proposes that a series of new indicators be developed to complement GDP and help with the transition. A concise scoreboard should be designed and integrated into the European Green Deal and the EU economic governance framework. A set of indicators needs to be devised to track, monitor and evaluate the "greening" of financing, and existing indicators tracking climate change should be revised. The EESC also considers that the Member States should give priority to using some of the indicators proposed by the UN, but also act on the proposals set out by the OECD. It is essential too that the EC and the Member States support initiatives to measure well-being more effectively and analyse the impact of economic activities on the environment. Finally, society's perception of how the economic model is being changed should be tracked by further surveys.
This report follows an event in November, organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) investigating what measures other than gross domestic product (GDP) could help the EU recover successfully and build a sustainable and resilient economy.
INSEE, the French Institute for Statistics, published the update of the 10 Wealth indicators (Indicateurs de richesse nationale). This SDG dashboard complements GDP in the social, economic and environmental domains and include indicators addressing current and future wellbeing , here and elsewhere as they consider the impact in other parts of the world (i.e. carbon footprint ).
The indicators, which are relevant and simple to understand, builds on global, European and national SDG indicators. The dashboard implements the Law 2015-411 of 13 April 2015 on the design and evaluation of public policies, and its the results of a wide consultation process bringing together experts and citizens, under the leadership of Conseil économique social et environnemental and France Stratégie, in cooperation with Cnis and INSEE.
A debate on the Wellbeing Economy approach to meeting climate goals took place in the House of Commons, with the opportunity to raise local or national issues and receive a response from a government minister.
The debate was made possible by over 65,000 signatures from across the UK on a petition, to urge the Government and Treasury prioritise the health and wellbeing of people and planet, by pursuing a Wellbeing Economy approach. The debate displayed strong cross-party support for the need for economic system change – and for a Wellbeing Economy approach to tackling both the climate emergency and social inequalities in the UK.
The UK’s Environmental Audit Committee launched a new inquiry on the case for moving beyond GDP and to explore viable alternative measures. The Committee will undertake hearings in 2022 to examine how the UK Government could incorporate environmental sustainability into its leading measures of economic success.
The European Commission launched the resilience dashboards, an innovative monitoring tool to navigate the green and digital transitions. They provide a holistic assessment of Member States and of the EU of the ability to progress amid challenges, across four interrelated dimensions: social and economic, green, digital, and geopolitical. The resilience dashboards have been developed from the prototype dashboards published in the 2020 Strategic Foresight Report and are the result of a collective intelligence process with the Member States, other institutions and key stakeholders. This process allowed to improve the structure of the dashboards and refine the selection of indicators in subsecutive steps. Compared to the prototypes, the dashboards substantially improved also in terms of methodology. Finally the resilience dashboards were also extended to a number of countries beyond the EU, to assess the resilience of the EU as a whole in an international context. The resilience dashboards are targeted to help Member States, and the EU as a whole, understand where to focus efforts to make progress towards policy objectives along ongoing transitions and amidst potential challenges, like climate change,supply disruptions, health or social crises. They are part of the Commission’s effort to embed strategic foresight into policymaking, as the selected indicators are linked to relevant megatrends – long-term driving forces that will most likely have a significant impact on Europe’s future. The Strategic Foresight Report 2021 underlines that this tool are an important step towards a more integrated approach for measuring wellbeing beyond GDP. It also foresees that the resilience dashboards will contribute to the ex-post assessment of Europe’s recovery and resilience strategy. Finally, the 2022 Annual Sustainable Growth Survey, published as part of the Autumn package, mentions their potential use in the upcoming country reports in the European Semester.
OECD published the report COVID-19 and Well-being: Life in the Pandemic.
The report explores the immediate implications of the pandemic for people’s lives and livelihoods in OECD countries. The report charts the course of well-being – from jobs and incomes through to social connections, health, work-life balance, safety and more – using data collected during the first 12-15 months of the pandemic.
It also takes stock of what has happened to human, economic, social and natural capital that, beyond their effects on people’s lives today, shape living conditions for years to come. It shows how COVID-19 has had far-reaching consequences for how we live, work and connect with one another, and how experiences of the pandemic varied widely, depending on whether and where people work, their gender, age, race and ethnicity, education and income levels.
Planned for release towards the end of the second quarter of 2022, the 2021/22 Human Development Report (HDR) will focus on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with a working title, “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a World in Transformation”.
The report will explore how uncertainty in the Anthropocene is changing, what is driving it, what it means for human development and how we can thrive in spite of it. The 2021/22 HDR will be centered on inequalities, while integrating other important themes related to uncertainties in the Anthropocene: societal-level transformations; mental health impacts; political polarization, but also, crucially, opportunity.
The World Bank published the Changing Wealth of Nations report 2021. According to the report, global wealth has grown overall, but at the expense of future prosperity and by exacerbating inequalities.
Countries that are depleting their resources in favor of short-term gains are putting their economies on an unsustainable development path. The report tracks the wealth of 146 countries between 1995 and 2018, by measuring the economic value of renewable natural capital (such as forests, cropland, and ocean resources), nonrenewable natural capital (such as minerals and fossil fuels), human capital (earnings over a person’s lifetime), produced capital (such as buildings and infrastructure), and net foreign assets. The report accounts for blue natural capital—in the form of mangroves and ocean fisheries—for the first time. In addition, mispricing of assets like carbon-emitting fossil fuels can lead to overvaluation and over-consumption. Global wealth inequality is growing, the report indicates. Globally, the share of total wealth in renewable natural capital (forests, cropland, and ocean resources) is decreasing and being further threatened by climate change. At the same time, renewable natural capital is becoming more valuable as it provides crucial ecosystem services.
UNDP and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) released the 2021 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) Report. The index complements monetary-based measures of poverty, expressing deprivations that are manifested in people’s daily lives in ways that go beyond the ability to purchase goods and services.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to disrupt lives around the world, UNDP and OPHI have updated their global estimates on multidimensional poverty and conducted new research on how multidimensional poverty is experienced differently between ethnic groups and across genders. The analyses provide estimates on multidimensional poverty for 109 developing countries, include trends over time for 80 countries; present multidimensional poverty estimates disaggregated by ethnicity and caste for 41 countries to identify who is - and how people are - being left behind; explore intrahousehold analysis with a gender lens; reveal how multidimensional poverty could amplify the impacts of COVID-19 shocks, hurting education, employment and livelihood.
The United Nations World Data Forum 2021 announced the declaration on Bern Data Compact for the Decade of Action on the Sustainable Development Goals.
The declaration calls on the international community and national governments to ensure that all communities work together in the data ecosystem to secure many aspects related to the 2030 Agenda. There is also a call for action for accelerated action on the implementation of the Cape Town Global Action Plan. Finally, through a call for commitments, the need for the following is highlighted: develop data capacity; establish data partnerships and cultivate collective efforts on data to leave no one behind.
The declaration was prepared by the High-level Group for Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building for statistics for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ( HLG-PCCB ) following an open consultation planned for between 9th August and 13th September 2021.
The UN Statistics Division launched the new Global SDG Data Platform. The Global SDG Indicator Platform is an online data visualization platform that tracks progress on the SDGs by displaying indicator data and reviewing trends.
The platform includes a new and user-friendly interface to the Global Sustainable Development Goal Indicators Database where SDG indicator data can be easily searched and downloaded (as table and in bulk).The platform also provides access to the SDG Country Profiles where - with a single click - trends for individual countries across the SDG goals are being shown. The entirely new SDG Analytics allows the interactive analysis of data availability, to review global and regional trends for individual indicators (data series) and to compare trends for countries and areas and for different indicators (data series).
The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released the “Our Common Agenda” report, which looks ahead to the next 25 years and represents the Secretary-General’s vision on the future of global cooperation and multilateralism, and supports the progress on Agenda 2030 . “Our Common Agenda” builds on many of the ideas collected from more than 1.5 million people in all 193 Member States who voiced strong public support for international cooperation, and a desire for more effective, more inclusive and more networked multilateralism in the future. The Agenda contains 12 areas of commitment, including “Protect our planet”, with proposals to “account for the environment in economic models” and fully support the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. In addition, the report urges the global community to go beyond GDP, building on the work of the Statistical Commission. This includes agreeing on “pathways for national and global accounting systems to include additional measurements, and to establish systems for regular reporting as part of official statistics.” On this note, the Secretary-General explicitly calls on Member States and others “to already begin implementation of the recent System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) Ecosystem Accounting.” The report also makes a proposal for a Summit of the Future to forge a new global consensus on what our future should look like.
The Italian Institute for Statistics (ISTAT) published the 2020 report on equitable and sustainable well-being (BES - Benessere Equo e Solidale) at local level, describing in a comprehensive way the quality of life in 107 Italian provinces and metropolitan cities.
It includes 11 chapters, each corresponding to one well-being domain, and does not consider subjective well-being for lack of data. The 2021 edition contains 63 Bes indicators at Nuts3 level. In this release 12 new indicators – concerning the domains of Health, Education, Landscape, Environment, Innovation and Quality of services – have been included in accordance with the new measures of well-being introduced in the 2020 Bes Report. For most areas, overall differences north-south remain important.
Carnegie UK published the 2019/20 Gross Domestic Wellbeing (GDWe) report, to demonstrate why GDP is an insufficient measure of social progress. Using the framework and data in the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Measures of National Wellbeing Dashboard, the report provides a brief overview of the key changes since the last 2020 report across the 10 ONS wellbeing domains, and make predictions for the next GDWe score release. According to the findings, the GDWe score for the 2019/20 period was 6.79 out of 10, compared to 6.89 the previous year; there is an increase in loneliness and a worrying decline in trust in government. The charity has called for an urgent rethink on the overemphasis on economic data to measure the post-pandemic recovery. Carnegie UK calls to focus decision-making on wellbeing, and explains how the delay in official wellbeing data has also hindered progress.
The European Commission published the report “Accounting for ecosystems and their services in the European Union”. The report unravels the flows of services that forests, rivers, grasslands, wetlands and other ecosystems supply. It shows how restoring degraded ecosystems has the potential to double nature’s contribution to the EU economy and society. EU’s ecosystems generated an annual flow of selected seven ecosystem services at the value of € 172 billion; forests delivered almost half of this supply. In 2019, the economic value provided by a wider set of ecosystem services in the EU amounted to € 234 billion. Led by Eurostat, the European Commission and the European Environment Agency have established an Integrated System of Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services Accounting for the EU – INCA. INCA contains three types of accounts: extent, condition and ecosystem services. The report summarises key results of the KIP-INCA (Knowledge Innovation Project on Integrating Natural Capital Accounting), showing practical examples of possible uses of ecosystem services accounts and existing policy application. The project paves the way to possibly expand the coverage of the EU Regulation on European Environmental Economic Accounts (EEEA) to include a new module on natural capital accounting, fully consistent with the UN framework.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021 reviews progress of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, using the latest available data and estimates to track global progress of the 17 Goals with in-depth analysis of selected indicators for each Goal.
The report highlights the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on the SDGs and points out areas that require urgent and coordinated action. The report is prepared by UN DESA in collaboration with more than 50 international and regional organizations.
The Global SDG Indicators Database containing global, regional and country data and metadata on the official SDG indicators has been updated and accompanies this report. The Sustainable Development Goals Progress Chart 2021, a snapshot of global and regional progress, also accompanies this report. The Gender Snapshot 2021 brings together the latest available evidence on gender equality across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, highlighting the progress made since 2015 but also the continued alarm over the COVID-19 pandemic and its immediate effect on women's well-being, including the threat it poses to future generations.
The report develops a new child well-being measurement framework, identifies key gaps in child data, and outlines how they can be filled.
Based on a review of research evidence on child well-being and how it relates to later life outcomes, the framework follows a number of principles; that well-being is multidimensional, is tightly embedded in a child’s environment, and that fundamental aspects change according to age. Well-being measures must also take into account children’s views and perspectives. The framework treats the different dimensions of child well-being – material, social, emotional, cultural and educational well-being, as well as physical health and cognitive development – as interconnected. It also aims to capture the distribution of well-being through measures that reflect lack of opportunities and disparities across different groups of children, for instance by sex, by living arrangement, and by migrant background.
The European Commission published a discussion paper on Economic policy-making Beyond GDP.
The paper describes the limits of using GDP as a proxy for wellbeing and its inadequacy to address inequalities environmental sustainability. It describes actions from statistical institutes (including Eurostat) to develop new complementary indicators, which have been embraced to various degrees by several governments and international organisations. The challenge is to bring these indicators into more active policy-making in a sensible and manageable way. This paper therefore reviews the pros and cons of some of the ongoing efforts, in Europe and beyond, laying out potential avenues for future actions.
UNDP published the Regional Human Development Report on Latin America and the Caribbean Region.
Latin America and the Caribbean is a region of contrasts, where wealth and prosperity coexist with extreme poverty and vulnerability. This Regional Human Development Report argues that the region is in a double trap of high inequality and low growth, explained by very low productivity. These two phenomena interact in a vicious circle that limits the ability to progress on all fronts of human development. This report focuses on three factors that are critical: the concentration of power; violence in all its forms, political, criminal and social; and distortive elements in the design of social protection systems and labour market regulatory frameworks. Perceptions of inequality and fairness also play a fundamental role.
Eurostat published the 2021 Report on “Sustainable Development in the EU”.
This publication is the fifth of Eurostat’s regular reports monitoring progress towards the SDGs in an EU context. The analysis in this publication builds on the EU SDG indicator set, developed in cooperation with a large number of stakeholders. The indicator set comprises 102 indicators and is structured along the 17 SDGs.
For each SDG, it focuses on aspects that are relevant from an EU perspective. The monitoring report provides a statistical presentation of trends relating to the SDGs in the EU over the past five years (‘short-term’) and, when sufficient data are available, over the past 15 years (‘long-term’). The indicator trends are described on the basis of a set of specific quantitative rules. This 2021 edition also shows some of the early impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that are visible in Eurostat’s official statistics.
The European Youth Forum published the second edition of the Youth Progress Index. Based on the methodology of the Social Progress Index, this is the most comprehensive measurement of the quality of life of young people around the world.
It brings together data on areas such as education, housing, safety, health and access to rights and freedoms to calculate 150 countries’ progress scores. It finds that, while 65 countries have improved their youth progress performance over the past decade, young people are facing increased barriers in accessing their personal rights – including freedom of expression and religion, political rights, access to justice and property rights for women. According to the findings, compared to the rest of the world, EU countries generally provide a quite good quality of life for young people, and young people in Europe are more likely to see their rights realised. Yet, they still face challenges in areas such as Personal Safety, Environmental Quality, Personal Freedom and Choice, and Inclusiveness. However, when the Youth Progress Index is adjusted to take into account the country’s environmental sustainability achievements, a dark truth is revealed. Many of the best scoring countries progress at a disproportionate environmental cost.
The New Zealand government published the first report on Child and Youth Wellbeing. The report includes relevant indicators to measure progress towards the objectives of the first Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy.
The Strategy, launched in August 2019, puts children first and sets out six high-level and interconnected wellbeing outcomes, that reflect what children and young people said was important to them. These outcomes signpost the social, economic and environmental factors needed for child and youth wellbeing. Significant amounts of Budget investment and ongoing work across government is now targeted at addressing child poverty, family violence, inadequate housing and improving learning support and mental health services for children, young people and their families. It includes specific information on outcomes for Māori and Pacific children and young people, and for other population groups where data is available.
At its 52nd session the UN Statistical Commission adopted a new framework — the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting—Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA).
This would ensure that natural capital—forests, wetlands and other ecosystems—are recognized in economic reporting: it will show the dependency of the economy on nature, and its impacts on nature, such as the deterioration of water quality or the loss of a forest. The new framework recognizes that ecosystems deliver important services that generate benefits for people: they are assets to be maintained, similar to economic assets. For example, forests play a role in providing communities with clean water, serving as natural water filters with trees, plants and other characteristics, such as soil depth, that help absorb nutrient pollution like nitrogen and phosphorous before it can ﬂow into streams, rivers and lakes. Chapters 1-7 describe the accounting framework and the physical accounts and were adopted as an international statistical standard; Chapters 8-11 describe internationally recognized statistical principles and recommendations for the valuation of ecosystem services and assets; Chapters 12-14 describe the applications and extensions to the SEEA EA.
More than 34 countries are compiling ecosystem accounts on an experimental basis. With the adoption of the new accounting recommendations, many more countries are expected to begin implementing the system.
The Italian Institute for Statistics (ISTAT) published the 2020 report on equitable and sustainable well-being (BES - Benessere Equo e Solidale), describing in a comprehensive way the quality of life in Italy.
Organized in 12 chapters, each corresponding to one well-being domain, the publication also includes an initial summary chapter which focuses on the analysis of 10 years of Bes, on the tenth anniversary of the launch of the project. Of the 152 indicators making-up the new set, 33 are new and integrate eight of the twelve domains of the Bes. This revision has been made with particular care and coherence with the fundamental lines of the Next Generation EU program. The 2020 report looks at inequalities in terms of territory, gender, age and education. Despite some progress, some critical areas remain, and inequalities are increasing in some areas.
Building on the BES indicators, the fourth report on equitable and sustainable well-being indicators, submitted to the Italian Parliament on 11th March 2021, includes analyses of the recent evolution of the 12 indicators up to 2019 together with the policy scenarios of 4 of them (Adjusted gross disposable income per capita, Disposable income inequality, Non-participation rate, Emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses).
The European Commission published the new Transitions Performance Index (TPI), a composite indicator to measure progress towards a fair and prosperous sustainability, building on four dimensions (economic, social, environmental and governance). The index, based on 25 internationally comparable indicators, allows measuring progress towards the six priorities of the Commission and to make countries benchmarking in the EU and beyond. It illustrates how each country performs on each of the four dimensions, provides an overall performance per country, indicates strengths and weaknesses, room for progress, and possible trade-offs. The TPI is available for 72 countries representing 91% of the world GDP and is accompanied by 72 country specific descriptions of progress made over a period of ten years.
Bertelsmann Stiftung published the 2020 version of Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI). The 2020 findings, which are discussed in a policy brief, shed light on the vulnerability of 41 OECD and EU countries prior to the crisis. The countries vary considerably in terms of their pre-crisis socioeconomic conditions. Their capacity for political reform also varies widely.
Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, has launched the European Statistical Recovery Dashboard. This informs the EU on the recovery of the European economy out of the unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The dashboard contains monthly and quarterly indicators from a number of statistical areas, which are relevant for tracking the economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The dashboard features around 20 indicators, which cover areas such as macroeconomic developments, business and trade, and the labour market. It is an interactive visual tool, it is updated every month with the latest available data and will be enriched with new indicators. The dashboard was developed in cooperation with the statistical authorities in the Member States. Each edition features a commentary describing the economic and social situation in the latest available period.
The UNDP published the 30th edition of the Human Development Report ‘The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene’, introducing an experimental new lens to its annual Human Development Index (HDI). By adjusting the HDI, which measures a nation’s health, education, and standards of living, to include two more elements: a country’s carbon dioxide emissions and its material footprint, the index shows how the global development landscape would change if both the wellbeing of people and also the planet were central to defining humanity’s progress. With the resulting Planetary-Pressures Adjusted HDI – or PHDI - a new global picture emerges, painting a less rosy but clearer assessment of human progress. For example, more than 50 countries drop out of the very high human development group, reflecting their dependence on fossil fuels and material footprint. Despite these adjustments, countries like Costa Rica, Moldova, and Panama move upwards by at least 30 places, recognizing that lighter pressure on the planet is possible.
The European Commission published the second, expanded edition of the Regional Social Progress index in late 2020. The EU-SPI measures social progress on three dimensions -- basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing and opportunity. Each of these dimensions breaks down further into four components, based on a total of 55 indicators.
The EU performs well on basic human needs, with an average score of 80 out of 100, but its performance on the other dimensions progressively deteriorates, with scores of 64 out of 100 and 58 out of 100 on the foundations of wellbeing and opportunity dimensions, respectively. The 2020 index reveals social disparities that vary greatly both across regions and across different aspects of social progress. Nordic countries perform well on the index, while Southeastern countries lag behind. The EU-SPI helps facilitate comparisons and benchmarking across the EU on a wide range of criteria that help policymakers and stakeholders assess a region's strong and weak points on purely social and environmental aspects.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) published the Europe Sustainable Development Report 2020, the second independent quantitative report on the progress of the European Union, its member states, and other European countries towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report builds on a peer-reviewed and statistically audited methodology, and includes country profiles for most European countries. According to the report, even before the onset of the pandemic, no European country was on track to achieve all 17 SDGs by 2030. Europe faces its greatest SDG challenges in the areas of sustainable agriculture and diets, climate, and biodiversity – and in strengthening the convergence of living standards across its countries and regions. SDSN advices that the EU existing tools to achieve the SDGs internally should be organized more clearly around the six transformations.
Carnegie UK published a report to measure Gross Domestic Wellbeing (GDWe) in England and mapped this against GDP for the past six years. The report includes an analysis of individual GDWe score for each of the 10 domains of wellbeing, to highlight areas requiring attention. It also includes a thematic review of over 800 recommendations from nearly 50 commissions and inquiries since 2010 – from Marmot to Grimsey, Dilnot to Taylor – to highlight the many areas of mutual focus, challenge, and concern. The recommendations show that though the data currently being collected by the Office for National Statistics offers a useful starting point and a framework for measuring wellbeing, there are significant gaps. The GDWe score for England was 6.89 in 2019, but the data shows that, while GDP has steadily increased, life in England has been getting progressively worse for the past five years, long before the Covid-19 pandemic began.
OECD launched the new Centre on Well-being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity (WISE). The centre is generating new data and solutions to improve people’s well-being and reduce inequalities, and better understand the impact of policies and business actions on people’s lives today and in the future. WISE centre is pursuing its mission through 6 pillars: measuring what matters; getting people and governments on the same page; giving everyone a stake in the economy and addressing inequalities; keeping up the SDGs ambition and making a fair transition to a green economy; changing the odds from the outset; connecting governments, private sector and the civil society.
The Wellbeing Economy Alliance published a new briefing paper on measuring the Wellbeing economy. The paper describes a three-pronged strategy which should be adopted to replace the growth narrative. WEAll’ report suggests to: harmonise the Beyond-GDP alternatives to ensure there are consistent measures of success; develop policy toolsto enhance wellbeing, sustainability and equity in their societies; change the social narrative for economic success to a narrative which values wellbeing, sustainability, and equity.
The European Commission published the Report "Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services: the state and trends of ecosystems in the European Union". The report presents the first European ecosystem assessment covering the total land area of the EU as well as the EU marine regions, including EU Member States (EU-27) and UK. This knowledge base can support the evaluation of the 2020 biodiversity targets. It also provides a data foundation for future assessments and policy developments, in particular with respect to the ecosystem restoration agenda for the next decade (2020-2030). The report presents an analysis of the pressures and condition of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems using a single, comparable methodology based on European data on trends of pressures and condition relative to the policy baseline 2010. The assessment is carried out by Joint Research Centre, European Environment Agency, DG Environment, and the European Topic Centres on Biological Diversity and on Urban, Land and Soil Systems. The report concludes that Europe’s ecosystems are under increasing pressure and suffer from the increasing impacts of climate change, nutrient pollution and land use intensification. Native biodiversity is gradually replaced by non-native species, particularly in grasslands and urban areas. As ecosystems are destroyed, the supply of their essential services is also declining, which is costly for our economy and for our wellbeing.
The European Commission published the 2020 Strategic Foresight Report (SFR) which presents the Commission’s strategy to embed strategic foresight and resilience into EU policymaking. The report defines resilience as the ability not only to withstand and cope with challenges but also to undergo transitions, in a sustainable, fair, and democratic manner, establishing a clear link between the concept of resilience and ongoing societal transformations. The report also presents four prototype dashboards to monitor four interellated dimensions: social and economic, geopolitical, green, and digital.
These are collections of indicators that provide a holistic assessment of countries’ (i) capacities that represent enablers and opportunities to navigate the transitions and face shocks ahead; and (ii) vulnerabilities, that represent obstacles or can exacerbate the negative impact of the challenges related to the green, digital, and fair transitions. These dashboards incorporate a forward-looking perspective informed by strategic foresight and are linked to relevant megatrends – long-term driving forces that will most likely have a significant impact on Europe’s future. The focus is on how to cope with challenges while maintaining or reaching the sustainable path.
The resilience dashboards can contribute to the measurement of wellbeing beyond GDP, in a moment when the disruption of established lifestyles by the COVID crisis has intensified the debate around it.
Through this tool, the Commission is also committed to contribute to a paradigm shift, adopting a 360-degree view that acknowledges the complex interaction between social, economic, and environmental systems, as well as the importance of resilience for wellbeing and sustainability.
In line with the indication in the 2020 Strategic Foresight Report, the European Commission is leading a collective intelligence process to develop the prototypes further. The new resilience dashboards will be released in the course of 2021.
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs published the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020. According to the report, the world had been making progress—although uneven and insufficient to meet the Goals — in areas such as improving maternal and child health, expanding access to electricity and increasing women’s representation in government. Yet even these advances were offset elsewhere by growing food insecurity, deterioration of the natural environment, and persistent and pervasive inequalities. In only a short period of time, the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed an unprecedented crisis, causing further disruption to SDG progress, with the world’s poorest and most vulnerable affected the most. Women are also bearing the heaviest brunt of the pandemic’s effects.
Among the key findings: an estimated 71 million people are expected to be pushed back into extreme poverty in 2020; many countries have seen a surge in reports of domestic violence against women and children; school closures have kept 90 per cent of students worldwide (1.57 billion) out of school; children in poor and disadvantaged communities are at much greater risk of child labour, child marriage and child trafficking. Climate change is still occurring much faster than anticipated, ocean acidification is accelerating, land degradation continues, massive numbers of species are at risk of extinction; and unsustainable consumption and production patterns remain pervasive.
Eurostat published the 2020 Report on “Sustainable Development in the EU”. This publication is the fourth of Eurostat’s regular reports monitoring progress towards the SDGs in an EU context and presents for the first time an overview of status and progress of EU Member States towards the SDGs. The analysis in this publication builds on the EU SDG indicator set, developed in cooperation with a large number of stakeholders. The indicator set comprises around 100 indicators and is structured along the 17 SDGs. For each SDG, it focuses on aspects which are relevant from an EU perspective. The monitoring report provides a statistical presentation of trends relating to the SDGs in the EU over the past five years (‘short-term’) and, when sufficient data are available, over the past 15 years (‘long-term’). The indicator trends are described on the basis of a set of specific quantitative rules.
At its 51st session the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC) approved a set of changes to the global indicator framework for the SDGs. The changes were recommended to the Commission as the outcome of the ‘2020 comprehensive review’ conducted by the UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs). The Group has developed 36 “major changes” to the framework, including by replacing, revising, and deleting current indicators, as well as adding new ones. The revised framework includes 231 indicators, approximately the same number as in the original framework. Additional work is needed in specific areas, including on data disaggregation and on interlinkages between the Goals and targets. The group recognized the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting is important for SDG monitoring.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) published the 2019 Europe Sustainable Development Report.The report was commissioned by the Prime Minister’s Office in Finland, and the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung (HBF) European Union, to provide an independent quantitative report on the progress of European Union Member States towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report includes 113 indicators covering the 17 SDGs: thefindings show that the biggest challenges faced by EU member states concern goals related to climate, biodiversity and circular economy. The countries closest to achieving the SDGs are Denmark, Sweden and Finland, while Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus rank last out of the 28 countries. The report outlines six transformations that can support achieving all 17 SDGs. The report concludes with practical recommendations to the European Commission with a focus on three broad areas: internal priorities, diplomacy and development cooperation, and tackling negative international spillovers.
The SDG Centre of Excellence for the Arab Region (SDGCAR) of the EDA (Emirates Diplomatic Academy) supported by the SDSN Secretariat, published thee 2019 Arab Region SDG Index and Dashboards Report.Intended to act as a tool for governments and other stakeholders, the report measures progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and marks a starting point for priority areas, policies and future action. The index comprises 105 indicators and uses a traffic light system to indicate performance. The study finds that there is a notable regional disparity across achievement of the SDGs, with poor and conflict-affected countries at the highest risk of falling behind. The most significant common challenges arise around sustainable food production and gender equality, and a positive momentum between environmental sustainability, water and climate change is identified. Insufficient data remains a barrier to measure sustainable development performance, which makes overarching policy recommendations difficult – as responses and solutions need to be country- and context-specific.
The Council of the European Union adopted conclusions on the Economy of Wellbeing. The Economy of Wellbeing, which is a priority of the Finnish Presidency, is a policy orientation and governance approach which aims to put people and their wellbeing at the centre of policy and decision-making. This is vitally important to the Union’s economic growth, productivity, long-term fiscal sustainability and societal stability. By adopting the conclusions, the Council invites Member States and the European Commission to include an economy of wellbeing perspective horizontally in national and European Union policies.
The 2019 Sustainable Development Report: Mediterranean Countries Edition was produced by the University of Siena (Santa Chiara Lab), on behalf of Sustainable Development Solutions Network Mediterranean (SDSN Med). The report analyses the progress of 23 countries in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean basin towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report includes 114 indicators. The best results are recorded with regard to Goal 1 (no poverty), 3 (good health and well-being) and 4 (quality education). Six major transformations are identified to promote the progress towards implementing various SDGs; ‘Sustainable food, land, water and oceans’, ‘Energy decarbonisation and sustainable industry’, ‘Sustainable cities and communities’, ‘Health, wellbeing and demography’, Education, gender and inequality’, and ‘Harnessing the digital revolution for sustainable development’. The report makes policy recommendations to improve sustainable agricultural practices, integration of women within society and to give priority to the conservation of marine biodiversity. The report also advocates for increased public and private investment in research and innovation for sustainable development.
The King Khalid Foundation (KFF), a charitable organization established by the family of the late King Khalid, has published a report providing a National Framework for Measuring Prosperity in Saudi Arabia. The framework covers all aspects of quality of life and provides a model for monitoring national assets that serve as a driving force of the quality of life. The framework is divided into two components - current and future prosperity. The first one is composed of 12 dimensions of quality of life: safety; income, expenditure & wealth; jobs & earnings; life-work balance; health; education; housing; environment; civic engagement & governance; social connections; life satisfaction; culture. The second component focuses on four resources: natural, economic, human, and social wealth. The framework shows a gap in equal opportunities in education, employment and training for young people, as well as disparities in economic participation and earnings between females and males. The objective of the KKF, through the framework, is to build a Saudi society with equal opportunities and prosperity that leaves no one behind.
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