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Measuring progress, true wealth, and well-being

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EU Initiatives

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Economy of Wellbeing: the Council adopts conclusions

The Council of the European Union has 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.

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Monitoring report on progress towards the SDGs in an EU context — 2019

Eurostat published the 2019 Report on “Sustainable Development in the EU”. The report monitors the EU’s progress towards the SDGs. The analysis builds on the EU SDG indicator set which comprises 100 indicators across all 17 SDGs. The EU’s progress and trends towards the SDGs are monitored over the past five years (short-term) as well as over the past 15 years Long-term), where data is available. According to the findings of the report, the EU has made some progress towards most of the SDGs in the short-term. The best performance is observed for SDG 3 ‘good health and well-being’, followed by SDG 1 ‘no poverty’ and SDG 8 ‘decent work and economic growth’. However, within some goals, the report finds that the EU has actually moved away from sustainable development objectives. Trends were not calculated for SDG 6 ‘clean water and sanitation’, SDG 14 ‘life below water’ and SDG 16 ‘peace, justice and strong institutions’ due to insufficient data.

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Environmental Indicator Report 2018

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published the Environmental Indicator Report 2018, which serves to support the monitoring of the European Union Seventh Environment Action Programme 2014-2020 (7th EAP). The report, now in its third and last edition, focuses on assessing progress on the three thematic priority objectives of the 7th EAP: protecting natural capital, increasing resource efficiency, and reducing environmental risks that impact health and well-being. The EEA utilises 29 indicators to assess the EU’s performance against these three priority areas; these include indicators on ammonia emissions, land take, conservation status of species and habitats of European interest, greenhouse gas emissions from transports, urban air quality, and exposure to environmental noise. Overall, data shows mixed trends in progress, and suggests in particular that the EU is unlikely to meet Natural Capital Protection objectives by 2020.

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Eurostat Monitoring Report on progress towards the SDGs in the EU

Eurostat published the 2018 report on monitoring progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the EU context. The report provides a statistical overview of EU progress towards the SDGs over two periods, the past five years and 15 years. The report shows that the EU has made some progress in most of the 17 SDGs. In particular, for three SDGs - SDG 3 ‘good health and well-being’, SDG 4 ‘quality education’ and SDG 7 ‘affordable and clean energy’ – the EU has shown significant progress in the last five years. Short-term moderate progress was observed for eight SDGs: SDG 11, 12, 5, 8, 17, 1 and to a minor extent for SDG 15 and 2. On SDG 9 ‘industry, innovation and infrastructure’ the EU presents an equal number of negative and positive developments. Of all SDGs measured, the EU shows a negative trend only on SDG 10 ‘reduced inequalities’, due to increased income inequalities within Member States. Progress on the remaining SDGs - 6, 13, 14 and 16 - was not measured due to lack of data.

CE Indicators

EU Monitoring Framework for the Circular Economy

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.

Eurostat 2017

EU progress towards sustainable development in 2017

Eurostat has released the publication ‘Sustainable development in the European Union – 2017 monitoring report of the progress towards the SDGs in an EU context’. This report aims at monitoring progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals in the EU. Eurostat uses the EU SDG indicators set, which is composed of 100 indicators structured around the 17 SDGs. The report presents trends over the past 5 (short-term) and 15 years (long-term). The report explains a number of data limitations for the interpretation of the key messages. The results indicate good progress towards achieving SDG 7 (Affordable and clean energy), SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production), SDG 15 (Life on land), SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) and SDG 3 (Good health and well-being). Moderate progress is observed for SDG 4, 17, 9, 5, 8, 1, 2, and 10; the four other goals (6, 13, 14, 16) could not be assessed due to a lack of data.

EEA Indicators

Environmental Indicator Report 2017

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published the Environmental Indicator Report 2017, which serves to support the monitoring of the European Union Seventh Environment Action Plan (7th EAP). The report focuses on assessing progress on the three thematic objectives of the 7th EAP: protecting natural capital, increasing resource efficiency, and reducing environmental risks that impact health and well-being. The EEA utilises 29 indicators to assess the EU’s performance against these three priority areas. Overall, data suggests that the EU has mixed performance against its objectives, with a number of targets unlikely to be met. Persistent challenges include halting the loss of biodiversity, reducing the rate of land take, limiting the overall environmental impact of production and consumption in the food sector, meeting air quality standards and reducing noise pollution.

Life in transition 2016

Life in Transition III (2016)

The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development has released the 2016 Life in Transition Survey (LiTS) III, comparing its main results with those from the previous editions in 2006 and 2010. The LiTS is a household and attitudinal survey that analyses the factors influencing life satisfaction in the transition region. Information is collected on economic, political and social topics across 9 modules (10 in Greece where a module on the impact of the crisis was added). The latest edition covers 34 countries, including 32 where the EBRD invests in addition to two western European comparators, Italy and Germany. The LiTS represents the largest coverage achieved so far presenting a total of 1,500 interviews per country, compared to 1,000 in the previous edition and 25 additional localities covered. The survey shows that people’s life satisfaction has increased across post-communist countries and concludes that the gap between the transition region and western European comparator countries has finally closed.


European Regional Social Progress Index

The Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission, the Social Progress Imperative and Orkestra – Basque Institute of Competitiveness, have developed a pilot regional version of the Social Progress Index for Europe. This is based on the same framework as the global Social Progress Index and provides spatially disaggregated information on the 272 EU “NUTS-2” regions. Using mainly Eurostat data, it scores each region on a scale of 0-100 across 50 indicators. The aim is to provide solid complementary metrics to GDP to support the European regions and Cohesion Policy development. A revised version of the regional Social Progress Index will be released in October 2016 based on stakeholders' feedback.

CoR Opinion

Committee of the Regions adoption opinion – GDP and beyond

At the 116th Plenary Session of the Committee of the Regions (CoR), the own-initiative opinion, Indicators for territorial development – GDP and beyond, was adopted by the majority of CoR members. This was based on the draft opinion published last year and highlighted the urgent need for complementary indicators to GDP to be adopted for measuring progress and supporting regional and local policy development in Europe. In her address to the plenary, Catiuscia Marini, President of the Umbria Region (Italy), PES Group President and CoR rapporteur for the opinion, argued that, “going beyond GDP is above all a policy choice that permeates our vision for Europe's development and economic and social cohesion”. The proposals included discussing the use of Beyond GDP indicators for the allocation of Cohesion Funds in the review of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF); requesting the European Commission to set out a timeline to engage local authorities in target-setting and the delivery of the regional data needed to design, implement and monitor the renewed Europe 2020 strategy by setting territorially differentiated targets.


Indicators for Territorial Development – GDP and beyond

The European Union Committee of the Regions’ Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER) has published a draft opinion entitled “Indicators for territorial development - GDP and beyond”. The opinion highlights the urgent need for complementary indicators to GDP to be adopted for measuring progress and supporting regional and local policy development in Europe. Such indicators could complement the indicator framework for the mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy, currently lacking a regional dimension. They could also provide the evidence on which to build a synthetic Regional Progress Indicator, as proposed by the Committee of the Regions. The opinion will be discussed in a Committee of the Regions' plenary session on the 11th February 2016.

Web-COSI Logo

Web-COSI – Statistics for Everyone final conference

The final Web-COSI (Web Communities for Statistic for Social Innovation) conference presented the main findings of a two year project. This project, funded by the European Commission and jointly led by ISTAT and the OECD, aimed to increase citizen engagement in statistics which provide new measures of social progress and well-being. The main output is the Web-COSI data portal on wikiprogress, providing an open source knowledge base of well-being and sustainability projects from across the globe. The platform provides users with access to data and contributes to both official and non-official data, thus increasing trust in collectively generated statistics. The project also carried out a number of initiatives aiming at engaging citizens, including a university programme, a youth portal, web competitions, crowd sourcing, workshops, conferences and webinars.

Eurostat’s monitoring report reveals mixed progress towards sustainable development in the EU
Published every two years, the Eurostat monitoring report evaluates progress towards the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS). Based on more than 100 indicators grouped into 10 thematic areas, the report considers both long-term developments (since 2000) and the trends over the last five years for the EU28. Substantial improvements have been achieved with respect to resource productivity, greenhouse gas emissions and the employment rate of older workers. Trends in the areas of social inclusion, natural resources and global partnership are instead unfavorable, especially in the short term.

Read the news release.
Read the full monitoring report.

Eurostat releases new flagship publication on quality of life
Eurostat publication Quality of life in Europe – facts and views provides a broad overview on personal well-being by combining for the first time objective indicators with individuals’ subjective perception. The latter is based on an ad-hoc module in the 2013 survey on income and living conditions (EU-SILC). Data are presented for the EU Member States as well as for the EFTA countries. Eurostat applies a multidimensional approach of measuring life quality covering nine dimensions, including health, education, governance and basic rights, natural and living environment and overall life satisfaction. An interactive tool allows users to find out how their country ranks with respect to certain life quality dimensions. On a scale from 0 to 10, EU ranks on average 7.1. With a score of 8.0, the most satisfied citizens are in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland. In almost all EU Member States satisfaction with personal relationships ranks first, while financial situation and time use received the lowest ratings.

Find more information.
Read the news release (pdf, 318 kB).
Download the full report (pdf, 12.9 MB).
Access to the info-graphics.

New tool to assess the world’s protected areas released by JRC
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) has released a web tool allowing users to explore nearly 16,000 protected areas in the world. The DOPA Explorer 1.0 provides new indicators enabling users to assess protected areas with respect to species, habitats and anthropogenic pressures. For the first time it is possible to distinguish between terrestrial, marine and mixed protected areas. The UN Executive Secretary suggested using this new tool to evaluate actions towards achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 11. Aichi Biodiversity Targets define a set of objectives in order to reduce pressures on biodiversity and ecosystems by 2020.

Find more information.
Get access to the DOPA Explorer 1.0.

Income is not the most important factor for life satisfaction
On March 20th 2015, the International Day of Happiness, Eurostat published a collection of subjective well-being indicators. This was the first time they have been gathered at European level. In 2013, EU residents rated their overall life satisfaction at 7.1 on average, on a scale of 0 to 10. Scandinavians were the most satisfied, while Southern and Eastern Europe residents generally expressed lower levels of life satisfaction. Having a very good health condition turns out to be the most influential factor for life satisfaction, followed by financial situation, labour market situation and social relations. A comprehensive report on Eurostat’s new data collection will be released in June 2015.

Read the Eurostat News Release.
Find more information.