Measuring progress, true wealth, and well-being
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 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.
The Social Progress Imperative, a US-based non-profit, published the 2019 edition of the Social progress Index. The index is the only metric to comprehensively and systematically focus on the non-economic dimensions of social performance across the globe. The index has evolved over time, involving a large body of research on moving “beyond GDP”. The sixth edition covers 149 countries, ranked though 51 social and environmental indicators which cover three dimensions of social progress: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. In addition, each dimension is divided into four components. The results of the 2019 index show striking differences across countries but overall social progress is advancing. The world score is 64.4, with improvements observed in all social progress components. 137 countries register an improved social progress score since 2014 but there are also some negative outliers, such as Chad, Central African Republic and South Sudan. The top performing countries are Norway, Denmark and Switzerland.
The Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) published a paper titled “Measuring prosperity – navigating the options”, commissioned by the WWF. As the title suggests, the paper explores the shortcomings of GDP as a measure of progress and identifies key alternative indicators. These are distinguished between indicators which primarily act as narrative or ‘story-telling’ devices, and those which primarily act as decision aids for policy. Advantages and disadvantages of alternative indicators are discussed throughout the paper, as well as the conditions that make a “good” indicator.
The Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge published its initial report for the Wealth Economy Project, titled “Measuring wealth, delivering prosperity”. The report advocates for an improvement in economic measurement to guide effective policy making. An alternative measurement framework is recommended, going beyond GDP and based on the wealth economy instead. The proposed framework measures comprehensive wealth through six types of economic assets: physical assets and produced capital; net financial capital; natural capital; intangible assets; human capital; social and institutional capital. Measuring changes in these assets is essential to deliver sustainability for the economy, society and environment.
Legatum Institute, an independent educational charity, published the Prosperity Index of the United States. The index assesses the development, growth and extent of prosperity across the 50 states and the District of Columbia and its evolvement over the past decade. Prosperity is assessed through 200 indicators in 11 pillars: business environment; market access & infrastructure; economic quality; safety & security; personal freedom; governance; social capital; living conditions; education; health; natural environment. The results indicate that prosperity has increased all across the US, with Massachusets being the most prosperous state and Mississipi the least one. However, no single state has succeeded in achieving both economic and social well-being. Out of the 11 pillars, Economic quality is the one that has seen the greatest improvement over the last 10 years.
The UNDP’s Human Development Report Office (HDRO) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) published the 2019 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index. The publication provides a detailed overview on global poverty and monitors progress towards Goal 1 of the Sustainable Development Goals – to end poverty. The index studies 101 countries - 31 low income, 68 middle income, and 2 high income. The report reveals that 1.3 billion people are ‘multidimensionally poor’, meaning that the term poverty goes beyond income levels and includes additional indicators such as poor health, poor working conditions, and threat of violence. Two-thirds of multidimensionally poor people are found to live in middle-income countries. The report also reveals that 10 countries showed progress in poverty reduction, with India, Cambodia and Bangladesh showing the fastest reductions. Furthermore, the report argues that no individual indicator can give sufficient information on inequality and multidimensional poverty, rather a combination of indicators must be used for the best assessment.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Bertelsmann Stiftung published the Sustainable Development Report 2019, presenting an updated SDG Index and Dashboards for all UN member states. The report, published annually since 2016, provides an assessment of countries’ progress in the achievement of the 17 SDGs. The 2019 edition includes new indicators, in particular in relation to agriculture, diets, gender equality and freedom of speech. In addition, new metrics have been added for international spillovers. The findings of the report show that no country is on track for achieving all 17 SDGs. In particular, countries perform worse on SG 13 (Climate Action), SDG 14 (Life Below Water), and SDG 15 (Life on Land). Income and wealth inequalities remain important challenges in both developing and developed countries. Denmark, Sweden and Finland top the SDG index, whereas the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, and the Central African Republic rank last among the 162 countries assessed.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa (SDGC/A) have released the 2nd edition of the Africa SDG Index and Dashboards report. The report ranks 52 African countries (Seychelles and Libya being excluded due to insufficient data coverage) based on 97 indicators across all 17 goals. The SDG Index score represents each country’s position between the worst (0) and best (100) possible outcomes. This year’s top country is Tunisia, with a score of 66.01, meaning that Tunisia is 66% of the way towards achieving the SDGs. The overall average score is around 52, meaning that the continent as a whole is far from achieving the SDGs. The report also assesses governments’ efforts at incorporating the SDGs in their national strategies, budgets, etc. Lack of funding and resources is reported to be the single most significant challenge both in terms of SDG implementation and monitoring.
The Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP), a UK-based think tank, has published a report introducing the new CPP Inclusive Growth (IG) Country Index, the first major output of its recent partnership with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Inclusive Growth. The index, building on five indicators on consumption, life expectancy, leisure, consumption inequality and unemployment, aims to assess inclusive growth across over 150 countries, and presents data for 2000-2017. The report found that there are significant differences between GDP per capita and the IG score. In particular, the relevance of GDP per capita for inclusive growth is lower for richer countries. Inclusive growth was also found to be closely related to, but distinct from, other measures of welfare, such as human development. Two additional inclusive growth metrics are to be developed as part of this project, one at community level in the UK, and the other at company level.
The Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP), an academic institute at University College London (UCL), and the London Prosperity Board, a cross-sector partnership established by the IGP, launched in May 2019 the Prosperity Index for London, the UK’s first citizen-led Prosperity Index. The Prosperity Index measures what matters to the prosperity of local communities in five neighbourhoods in east London, using specially commissioned household survey data comparing local experience to the average for Greater London and secondary data sources. The Index reports on 5 domains, 15 dub-domains and 32 headline indicators, chosen through qualitative research informed by citizens. It represents the outcome of four years’ research. Headline finding is that insecure livelihoods (household security, job security, and financial stress) are undermining the foundations of prosperity in east London.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Brabant Center for Sustainable Development published the first-ever SDG Index and Dashboards Report for European Cities. The report shows and compares the performance of cities in the European Union and European Free Trade Association on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The approach used builds on the methodology used by the SDSN and the Bertelsmann Stiftung to measure SDG performance globally. Index scores and detailed dashboards are presented for each goal for 45 European cities. The findings of the report show that no European capital or metropolitan areas has achieved the SDGs. Oslo is the best performing city, followed by Stockholm and Helsinki. Overall, the worst performance is observed on SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), SDG 13 (Climate Action) and SDG 15 (Life on Land).
Happy City, a UK based charity with the mission of “making what matters count”, published the second edition of the Thriving Places Index, with support of Triodos Bank. The index aims at putting the well-being of people, place and planet at the heart of decision-making in the UK. It provides a reporting framework showing the conditions for well-being at the local level. The index is formed by a broad set of indicators grouped under three main domains: local conditions, sustainability and equality. The 2019 edition includes the coverage of all second-tier local authorities areas in Wales, in addition to England. The result is a clear picture of the local conditions in 373 local authority areas in England and Wales. Results for England show a noticeable North-South divide for Local Conditions, with the South performing better. Areas with greater population diversity perform better in Equality. Results for Wales show a general downward trend compared to the average.
The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network has released the 7th World Happiness Report on International Day of Happiness. This year’s central theme is happiness and community, focusing on happiness evolution over the past 12 years and the role of technologies, social norms, conflicts and government policies in driving those changes. The reports presents 156 country happiness rankings and their evolution since 2005, using a scale composed of three key happiness measures: life evaluations, positive affect, and negative affect. Six key explanatory factors of well-being are also evaluated: social support, freedom, corruption, generosity, log of GDP per capita, and healthy life expectancy. At global level, life evaluations fell sharply in 2008, before recovering by 2011 and falling steadily since then. Global inequality of well-being has been fairly constant between countries, but is rising within countries. Finland tops the ranking, while Benin, Nicaragua, Bulgaria and Latvia are among the 20 countries showing the biggest increases in happiness from 2005-2008 to 2016-2018. Venezuela and Syria show the largest declines in life evaluation.
Social Justice Ireland, an independent think tank, has released the 2019 Sustainable Progress Index, the third annual assessment of Ireland’s progress towards all 17 SDGs in three dimensions: economy, society and environment. Ireland’s performance is compared to the performance of the other EU15 countries, which have experienced similar levels of development. The index is based on 65 indicators which were selected from the UN Indicator Set (2017) for monitoring SDGs progress. Data comes from official international sources such as OECD, WHO, UN, and NGOs such as Gallup and Transparency International. Ireland’s overall ranking among EU15 countries in SDG performance is 11, reaching the top third for SDGs 4 (quality education), 16 (Peace and Justice) and 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation). Significant challenges remain for SDGs 17 (Partnership for the Goals), 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 10 (Reduced Inequality) and 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), where Ireland is ranked among the bottom four countries.
The Global Happiness Council (GHC) has launched the second edition of the Global Happiness Policy Report, at the 2019 World Government Summit in Dubai. The GHC is a global network of leading academic specialists in happiness and key practitioners in areas ranging from psychology, economics, urban planning, civil society, business and government. In the 2019 report the GHC identifies best practices in happiness and well-being policies in six thematic sectors - education, workplace, personal happiness, public health, city design and metric – through international case studies. The report also include policy recommendations specific to each sector, drawing on these findings. Conclusions include the desirability of building well-being skills and academic skills hand-in-hand; the importance of public participation in sustainable urban governance; and the necessity to put well-being indicators at the core of policymaking.
The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released its first bulletin combining its data on both personal (Oct. 2017 – Sept. 2018) and economic (July - Sept. 2018) well-being. This is part of a news series on people and prosperity, within the ONS’s ‘Beyond GDP’ initiative. Personal well-being is scored on a scale from 1 to 10 and is assessed through four measures: Life satisfaction, Worth of things done in life, Happiness and Anxiety. Economic well-being is assessed through ten headline indicators and fifteen supplementary indicators. Key findings compared to last year include improved performance on economic indicators such as employment, income and spending, but no change in personal well-being, and an increased pessimism over future personal financial situation. Future bulletins will provide insights into well-being inequalities and will assess the effect of the UK’s exit from the EU on well-being.
The Global Data Lab of the Radboud University (The Netherlands) has released a new version of its Sub-National Human Development Index (SHDI). The SHDI is a translation of the UNDP’s official HDI to the subnational level, which aims at estimating Human Development for country regions. The 2.0 version covers 1625 regions within 161 countries for the period 1990-2017. Data was added for Equatorial Guinea, and updated for Somalia, Kosovo, East Timor, Argentina, Venezuela, Malaysia and EU-countries. Values of the SHDI are computed on the basis of three dimension sub-indices (education, health, standard of living), which were constructed through subnational data on four indicators: expected years of schooling, mean years of schooling, life expectancy and gross national income per capita. Data is freely available as well as a global map. Comparisons with national HDI suggest that the regional distribution of Human Development is particularly unequal in low and middle developed countries.
Istat, the Italian Institute of Statistics, published the sixth annual edition of the Fair and Sustainable Well-being Report. The report presents an overview of the main economic, social and environmental aspects which characterise Italian wellbeing. The framework measures the well-being of Italy through 130 indicators categorised under 12 domains: health, education, work-life balance, economic well-being, social relations, politics and institutions, security, subjective well-being, landscape and cultural heritage, environment, innovation research and creativity, quality of services. The main changes in the current edition concern indicators in health, social relations, security, landscape and cultural heritage, environment, and innovation, research and creativity. The report shows an overall improvement in the performance of the domains. 40% of the indicators show a positive change compared to the previous year, while 31.8% had a negative change and 29.1% have stayed unvaried. The best performance is observed in innovation, research and creativity, economic well-being, and work-life balance. Social relations presents the worst performing indicators.
The Green Economy Coalition (an alliance of civil society organisations, trade unions, businesses and campaigners) and Development Alternatives (a social enterprise) launched the India Green Economy Barometer 2018. The Barometer monitors India’s current economic conditions and its transition to a green economy, tracking five aspects: alternatives to purely economic measurements; greening of high impact sectors; state of human resources; protection of natural capital; and trends of green investment in the economy. Although there is a strong potential for green economy transition in India, data show that progress is slow and currently insufficient. The Barometer shows a high involvement of civil society towards a green transition, counteracted by the facts that environmental issues are given only ‘ornamental importance’ at the national level and that big businesses lag behind in making progress.
The Living Standards Framework (LSF) is a wellbeing framework developed by the New Zealand (NZ) Treasury since 2011. In 2018, the Treasury released the LSF Dashboard, a tool to measure and track changes in well-being outcomes based on three sections: ‘our people’, ‘our country’, and ‘our future’. ‘Our people’ measures wellbeing distribution across nine domains for different population groups of New Zealanders (age, ethnicity, family type etc.). ‘Our country’ uses 38 indicators to measure 12 wellbeing domains and describe the current wellbeing of New Zealanders, with comparisons to other OECD countries. ‘Our future’ provides indicators on four resources (natural, human, social and financial/physical capitals) relevant to future wellbeing. This is the first version of the LSF dashboard, which should be updated along with the LSF in 2021.
The Ocean Health Index (OHI) is a joint initiative developed by more than 65 scientists through partnerships between organizations including the National Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Sea Around Us, Conservation International, National geographic, and the New England Aquarium. The 7th edition of the index assesses global ocean health in 220 coastal nations and territories, including Antarctica. It measures progress towards 10 goals: food provision, artisanal fishing opportunities, sense of place, clean waters, tourism & recreation, coastal protection, livelihoods & economies, carbon storage, biodiversity, natural products. Each goal is assessed across four dimensions (present status, trend, pressure and resilience) to account for change over time. Results show increased ocean health in 109 countries, compared to 27 in 2017; average score is 70/100, similar to the past two years. Additionally, the OHI Independent Assessment Framework (OHI+) provides a tool for national authorities to carry out independent assessments of the state of their marine areas.
SDSN Italy and FEEM (Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei) published the SDG Cities Index for Italy. The report aims at translating the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the Italian context, in which 75% of population lives in urban areas. The report explores the level of SDGs implementation at the municipal level, by assessing 101 cities in terms of 39 indicators covering 16 SDGs. The overall index provides an informative tool measuring progress at the sub-national level in view of strengthening the alignment of municipal policy making decisions with Agenda 2030. The index and specific SDG indices, can help communities in overcoming current challenges. Results show that Italian cities have reached 53% of SDGs implementation and that none of the cities has reached more than 80%.
Arcadis published the 2018 Sustainable Cities Index. The index explores the sustainability of cities from the perspective of the citizens. It ranks 100 cities in the world based on 48 indicators divided in three pillars of sustainability that cover the social, environmental and economic aspects: People, Planet and Profit. The pillars are closely aligned with the UN SDGs. London tops the index with a particularly high performance in People and Profit. The top 20 sustainable cities are mainly European, in addition to three cities in Asia and three in the US. The People sub-index is topped by Edinburgh, while Stockholm tops the Planet sub-index and Singapore the Profit sub-index. The results show that on average small European cities are successfully balancing well-being and economic performance while advancing on the environmental aspect. This is however a challenge for cities in the fastest growing economics such as Asia, Latin America and Africa.
The Spanish Sustainable Development Solutions Network (REDS) published the 2018 SDG Spanish Cities Index. The index, inspired by the Global SDG Index and Dashboard, monitors the progress of 100 Spanish cities towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a way to support local authorities and better understand Spain’ specific challenges. The index covers the most populated cities and metropolitan areas, accounting for approximately 50% of the total population of Spain. The index contains 85 indicators linked to the 17 SDGs, selected based on data availability and relevance to the urban context. The performance of each city against the SDGs is presented through a traffic light system. The results show that all the monitored cities present above-failure performances on at least 11 SDGs but none of the cities has achieved the 17 SDGs. The SDGs where cities perform best are SDG 3, 16, 6 and 7, whilst most challenges are faced in SDG 8 and 13.
The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), an independent think tank dedicated to sustainable development, published the report “Comprehensive Wealth in Canada 2018”. The report builds on the 2016 edition and provides a complete analysis of comprehensive wealth in Canada, highlighting that what matters in the long-run is not GDP. It stresses the importance of the five capitals - produced, natural, human, financial and social – in determining the prospects for the future. Findings show that, despite the robust growth in GDP, Canada’s development since 2008 has been unsustainable: natural capital is facing threats from climate change and resource depletion; produced capital is concentrated in oil and gas extraction; human capital (in per capita terms) has stagnated for the past three and a half decades; financial capital is facing unprecedented household debt. Since the previous version, the report has extended the time coverage to 2015, added financial capital, and included built-up land as an asset of natural capital and inventories in produced capital.
The Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS), a network of organizations dedicated to sustainable development, published the 2018 report on Italy and the Sustainable Development Goals. The report, published annually since 2016, analyses Italy’s progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition to the composite indicators relative to each SDG, the 2018 report for the first time analyses progress at regional level through composite indicators based on 80 elementary statistical indicators. Italy shows signs of improvements in eight areas: nutrition and sustainable agriculture, health, education, gender equality, innovation, sustainable production and consumption models, fight against climate change, and international cooperation. The country is lagging behind in relation to poverty, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities, and life on land. The report shows that Italy is far from reaching the SDGs and that the country presents a condition of unsustainability from an economic, social and environmental perspective.
SDSN Australia, New Zealand & Pacific in partnership with the National Sustainable Development Council and the Monash Sustainable Development Institute published the “Transforming Australia: SDG Progress Report”. The report provides information on how Australia is doing in relation to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It monitors progress on 86 priority SDG targets through 144 indicators, chosen based on the areas of relevance to Australia and the quality, timeliness and reliability of data. The assessment of progress is based on official SDG indicators taken from the global SDG framework, as well as on alternative SDG indicators adapted to the Australian context, and complementary national indicators selected to complement the other indicators. The results show that Australia is performing relatively well in education and health, while performing poorly in climate action and equality.
The Social Progress Imperative published the 2018 Social Progress Index, which measures countries’ performance on social and environmental aspects. The index, the fifth developed since the first one in 2014, ranks 146 countries on 51 indicators, divided into 12 components grouped under three dimensions: basic human needs, foundations of well-being and opportunity. The results show that the world scores highest on Nutrition and Basic Medical Care and Access to Basic Knowledge, while it shows the least progress on the Opportunity dimension. The country scoring the highest is Norway. An increasing number of member governments and businesses are using the Social Progress Index to keep track of progress towards the SDGs and make their communities more resilient.
Spotahome, an online booking platform, published the Healthy City Index. The index ranks 89 cities based on 10 factors which determine the health of a city: average gym rating, annual sunshine hours, life expectancy at birth, fast-food outlets, obesity in adults, annual vacation days, work-life balance, air and water quality, green spaces, and electric car charging. These are categorised under four domains: health, food, work and environment. The index is created using both city-level and country-level data and different sources depending on the factor, such as the OECD Better Life Index for work-life balance. Scores are attributed on each factor between 0 and 10. Amsterdam tops the overall index with a score 6.97, while Casablanca is at the bottom with a score of 3.25.
The Economist Intelligence Unit published the Global Liveability Index, which measures the challenges that might affect an individual's lifestyle in 140 cities worldwide. In order to quantify these, each year, each city is assigned a score for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure. The liveability score is reached through category weights, which are equally divided into relevant subcategories to ensure that the score covers as many indicators as possible. Examples of indicators include access to healthcare, mobility, and corruption levels. According to the 2018 Global Liveability Index, Vienna displaces Melbourne as the most liveable city in the world. Of the 140 surveyed cities, 49% registered negative changes in their overall liveability rank in the past six months and 34% experienced positive movements.
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 Overseas Development Institute published the 2018 Leave no-one behind Index. The index covers 86 countries that have presented Voluntary National Reviews in 2017 and 2018. It assesses whether they are ready to ‘leave no-one behind’, a foundational element of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The index measures governments’ readiness on three components that are key to leaving no-one behind: data, policy, and finance. Compared to the 2017 edition, ODI has increased the number of countries covered from 43 to 86, and has included ‘resilience’ as an indicator in the policy component. Based on a combined score of the three components, the results show that 55 countries are ‘ready’ to meet their leave no one behind commitments, 24 are ‘partially ready’ and 5 are ‘not ready’. A fair assessment of the two remaining cities was not possible due to data limitations. Most of the countries’ progress was observed in the data component.
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 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 European Youth Forum, a platform of national youth councils and international non-governmental youth organizations, published the Youth Progress Index. The index measures the quality of life of young people following the same framework of the Social Progress Index but excluding economic indicators. It is based on 60 indicators divided into twelve categories and 3 dimensions: basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing, and opportunity. The focus on the youth derives from the fact that today’s youth, accounting for half of the world’s population, is facing increasing challenges and threats to their well-being. The index provides information on specific social issues and challenges in different countries and can assist strategic planning. Country-based measurements are available for 102 countries fully, and for 52 partially. All 17 SDGs are covered in the index to a certain extent. The results show that “opportunity” is the worst performing dimension. The best performing country is Norway while Mozambique ranks last overall.
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.
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 World Inequality Lab, a group of leading researchers focused on global inequality dynamics based at the Paris School of Economics, released the first World Inequality Report with the aim of informing the global democratic debate on inequality. The reports’ methodology draws on the latest data available on the World Wealth and Income Database and combines a set of data sources including: national income and wealth accounts; household income and wealth surveys; fiscal data from taxes on income; and wealth rankings. The report shows that since 1980 income inequality has increased in nearly all world regions at different speeds, with lowest levels in Europe and highest in Middle East. The different levels of inequality indicate that national institutional and political contexts have played a significant role in shaping inequality trends. A particularly extreme divergence in inequality levels can be observed between Europe and the United States, which in 1980 showed similar levels.
The Ocean Health Index (OHI) is a joint initiative, developed by more than 65 scientists from five organisations: Conservation International, National Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS); Sea Around Us; University of British Columbia; and the University of California Santa Barbara. The OHI provides a measure of the state of the world’s oceans; the 2017 edition is the sixth version of the assessment, since 2012. The index examines 221 regions, including all coastal countries, territories and Antarctica. It measures progress towards 10 goals: food provision; natural products; coastal protection; livelihoods and economies; clean waters; artisanal fishing opportunities; carbon storage; sense of place; tourism and recreation; and biodiversity. Each goal is assessed across four dimensions (present status, trend, pressure and resilience) to account for how a goal might change over time. The average global score for 2017 was 71. The OHI Independent Assessment Framework (or OHI+) provides a tool for national authorities to carry out independent assessments of the state of their marine areas. The Government of Samoa have announced that they will use OHI+ as the basis for monitoring progress towards the commitments the country made at the UN Oceans Conference.
The Dutch Atlas of Natural Capital, an initiative of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment jointly with several knowledge institutes (Deltares, Alterra, LEI and RIVM), provides information and operational guidelines on how natural capital can be used sustainably as well as a series of digital maps about natural capital in the Netherlands. The atlas includes: three countrywide maps on trees; shrubs and low vegetation; three maps on pollination, ecosystem services wood production and biomass for energy (these maps show the positive influence of vegetation and water on the temperature in the city); thirteen maps which provide an insight into the location and the quality of drinking water extraction sites. Maps that will be published soon will show ecosystem services of food, wood production, coastal protection and soil erosion. In addition, maps on the effect of green on house prices and health, carbon sequestration, pest control and water infiltration will be developed in the future.
Germanwatch, a public policy NGO based in Bonn, have published the 2018 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI). This is the 13th edition of the index, which compares the efforts of 56 countries, including the EU Member States, to combat climate change. The CCPI is composed of 4 categories: Energy use (weighting 20%), Renewable Energy (20%), GHG Emissions (40%) and assessments of national and international climate policy (20%). For the first time the report measures the performance of all greenhouse gasses assessed in the CCPI of the 56 countries and EU as a whole as well as their progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. The report produces a ranking based on a country’s aggregated performance regarding 14 indicators within the four categories. Top countries include Sweden, Lithuania, Morocco and Norway; medium-performers include Brazil, Germany, Mexico and Egypt; performers at the bottom are the US, Australia, Republic of Korea, Iran and Saudi-Arabia. Results reveal that although growth rates in CO2 emissions are decreasing, none of the countries are acting enough to prevent climate change.
In October 2017, a group of governments including Scotland, Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Slovenia, decided to come together to facilitate global efforts towards shifting away from the GDP focus and to launch an alliance to share good practice in wellbeing policy making. The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WE-All) brings together organizations, networks, academics, businesses, NGOs, and individuals, in order to catalyse global efforts towards creating a sustainable wellbeing economy. Fundamentals tackled by the Alliance include the promotion of measures and conceptions of success aligned with wellbeing rather than GDP or short-term profit. WE-All will be co-organising the Global Forum 2019 in Malaga (Spain) on April 24-26, together with NESI (New Economy and Social Innovation). The Forum will focus on achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and Climate Change Agenda through local actions.
Letter1, an international investment firm, has announced the winners of the 2017 Indigo Prize. In its first year, the economics prize encourages entrants to develop tools to measure economic activity in the 21st century, asking “How should your new measure be used to improve the way we measure GDP in official statistics?” A judging panel of economists assessed shortlisted entries which comprise of essays no longer than 5,000 words. Entrants compete for GBP 100,000, GBP 25,000 and GBP 10,000 for first, second and third place respectively. This year’s winning entry entitled “Making the Future Count” was co-authored by Diane Coyle and Benjamin Mitra-Kahn, who proposed a two stage reform to GDP. The first reform removes unproductive financial investments and adjusts for income distribution. The second reform proposes a completely new measure of development based on measuring six assets (physical, natural capital, human capital, intellectual property, social and institutional capital and net financial capital), as well as access to these assets.
The International Youth Foundation, a global charity supporting young people to achieve their full potential, and Hilton have jointly published the 2017 Global Youth Wellbeing Index. The index provides an analysis of youth wellbeing in 29 countries (covering 70% of the 1.8 billion young people worldwide) through 35 indicators across seven domains: equality, economic opportunity, education, health, safety and security, citizen participation, and information and communication technology. In an era of increasing challenges, the aim of the index is to identify areas where investments are most needed for youth to progress,. Each domain is linked to one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, making the index a valid tool to contribute to monitoring progress towards the 2030 global development agenda. The most recent figures of the index show that youth wellbeing is overall improving slowly, with an increase of 2% since 2014. However youth wellbeing declined in three countries: South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Overall, only 11% of young people experiences high levels of wellbeing.
EcoVadis, a platform for environmental, social and ethical performance ratings in global supply chains, has published the first edition of its Global CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Risk and Performance Index. The index assesses companies’ CSR performance based on 21 different indicators across four areas: environment, labour practices and human rights, fair business ethics, and sustainable procurement. In total more than 20,400 companies, which EcoVadis have previously analysed and coming from 144 different countries, are included in the report. The overall results are promising, but there is still a major gap between today’s scores and maximum CSR performance. In addition, the report reveals big differences in performance between 3 world regions: companies from Europe performed overall better than the ones from North- and South-America and the ones from Africa, Middle East, and Asia.
The Centre for Global Development, a US non-profit think tank focusing on international development, has published the 2017 Commitment to Development Index. The index ranks 27 countries, among the richest in the world, on how their policies influence more than five billion people in poorer countries. The index celebrates the countries which have implemented policies with beneficial results not only for them but also for the development of others. In order to cover development policies in its multiple aspects, seven policy areas are explored: aid, finance, technology, environment, trade, security, and migration. A set of 100 indicators is used to measure progress in the policy areas. Compared to 2016, the results show an improvement in environment, technology and trade. Denmark tops the 2017 index, scoring highly on all policy areas, with the exception of migration. The least performing countries are South Korea and Japan, despite scoring highly in technology.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) published the 48th edition of the Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific series, which provides a comprehensive set of economic, social, environmental, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) indicators for its 48 regional members. The report is composed of three parts. The first part categorizes the SDG indicators in five broad themes, namely people, prosperity, planet, peace, and partnership and analyses key trends. The second part presents 98 statistical tables with regional social, environmental, and economic developments divided into eight themes. The third depicts in detail cross-border trading transactions of inputs used in the production of goods and services. The report shows that extreme poverty has been reduced, energy efficiency improved, and the maternal mortality has halved, but several challenges remain such as growth in inequality, and the present threat of natural disasters.
Gallup Inc. has published the 2017 Global Emotions Report that presents the positive and negative feelings experienced by people in 142 countries in 2016. The positive and negative experience indexes were formulated after 149,000 interviews, which included questions such as how well-rested the interviewees felt the day before the survey, if they laughed, if they did something interesting, and on the other hand if they felt pain, stress, or sadness. Globally, 70% of people said they were well-rested, laughed, and treated with respect, while just 50% said that they did something interesting. Regarding the negative feelings, worry, stress, and physical pain were experienced by 36%, 35%, and 30% of the respondents respectively. Latin America countries topped the positive index, indicating a cultural tendency of these countries to focus on positive aspects of life. Contrarily, Iraq leads the negative index for the fourth year, followed by mainly some African countries.
The Economist Intelligence Unit has published the findings of the latest Global Liveability Report. The report assessed 140 cities against 30 factors across five categories: stability; culture and environment; healthcare; education; and infrastructure. A score of 1-100 was awarded to each of the cities, where 100 denotes “ideal living standards” and 1 signifies intolerable living conditions. According to the 2017 ranking, Melbourne (Australia) remains the most liveable city in the world for the seventh consecutive year, followed by Vienna (Austria), and Vancouver and Toronto (Canada). At the other end of the spectrum, the least liveable city is Damascus (Syria), followed by Lagos (Nigeria), Tripoli (Libya), and Dhaka (Bangladesh). High-scoring cities tend to be medium-sized, located in wealthier countries, and have low population density, which enables easily accessible recreational activities without high crime levels. On the other hand, weakening of global stability and terrorist attacks are the main factors leading to volatility and low ranking in cities’ scores.
The Bertelsmann Stiftung published the Sustainable Governance Indicators 2017. The SGI 2017 is the third edition of the publication, with previous publications in 2011 and 2014. It is based on 69 quantitative and 67 qualitative indicators, including inputs from a questionnaire distributed to more than 100 experts. The Sustainable Governance index provides a cross national analysis of the OECD countries and a monitoring tool for sustainable governance. The overall index builds on three indices: the policy performance index, the democracy index and the governance index. The policy performance index is further subdivided into economic, social and environmental policy performance. Across the three indices Nordic countries tend to be the best performing, although Germany and New Zealand perform well in specific areas. Compared to previous editions of the SGI, the 2017 edition assesses the contribution of individual countries to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
'Measure of America' developed DATA2GO.NYC , an online tool that provides data and mapping of well-being, freedom, and opportunity of New York City’s 59 community districts. The website comprises more than 300 indicators that depict neighbourhoods’ assets and challenges, which can help policy-makers and individuals to shape a city in which “everyone counts”. It has three main interfaces: Maps, Dashboards, and Connections. Users can produce NYC maps for over 300 indicators grouped in 12 categories, from development, environment, and education to demographics, safety, and political engagement. There are also 17 “Features of interest” that include public and private facilities that matter for people’s well-being, such as parks, libraries, shelters, kitchens and more. Dashboards show multiple indicators for a given community district.
The 'What Works Centre for Wellbeing' partnered with 'Happy City' to develop a local wellbeing indicator set which would help local decision-makers to understand and improve local wellbeing in UK. It comprises two sets of indicators, an ‘ideal’ one based on 26 indicators and a ‘currently available’, which includes 23 indicators. The final framework of both indicator sets comprises seven domains: Economy, Education and childhood, Equality, Health, Place, Social relationships, and Personal wellbeing. The set includes both objective and subjective indicators, some are direct measures of well-being, some are more traditional indicators of deprivation, such as unemployment and material deprivation, and others are aspects less often considered by policy, such as social contacts and use of green spaces. In the development of these indicators, local authorities, local public health leaders, and health & wellbeing boards were consulted.
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 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.
Cigna, an American health insurance provider, has released the Live Well Report, including the results of the third edition of Cigna Well-being Survey. This survey tracks the evolution of health and well-being of people in 13 countries around the world. All 14,219 respondents are representatives of the non-elderly adult population of each of the surveyed market. Five key well-being components are explored: physical, financial, work health, family health and social health. The results show that well-being has decreased; from the previous survey in 2016, the total average score has dropped by 1.1 percent points from 63.4 to 62.3, with South Korea showing the largest drop. A rise in the overall score was observed in four countries, with Thailand showing the highest. The results indicate that there is a growing concern over families’ well-ness and their financial stability. Work wellness programs are also becoming more important.
The 2016 Urban Sustainability Index (USI) report has been published by the Urban China Initiative, a joint initiative of School of Public Policy and Management of Tsinghua University, and McKinsey & Company. The report ranks 185 Chinese cities of different sizes and stages of development according to their sustainability scores between 2006 to 2014; in this way the report aims to assess the innovation capabilities of 161 of these cities and to provide a rigorous assessment of their progress. The index is updated every two years. USI 2016 comprised of a series of 23 indicators that provide a comprehensive assessment of a city’s sustainability in four categories: economy, society, resources and environment. The study also looks into the relations between sub-categories, such as income level, energy and water consumption, industrial pollution and urban density, and middle-school students and number of doctors per capita. The results show a gradual overall improvement in most cities mainly due to improvements for the social and economic indicators rather than for the environmental ones; in addition the eastern coastal regions appear globally more sustainable than inland cities.
Developed by the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO), the GCRO Socio-Economic Barometer is a tracking, diagnostic and benchmarking tool to measure development at a regional scale. The GCRO Barometer is based on an integrated methodology covering 10 sectors: economic growth, poverty and inequality, labour market, safety and security, infrastructure and services, health, education, social cohesion, governance, and sustainability. It utilizes 38 indicators which are displayed in a graphic to provide a comprehensive analytical visual of socio-economic and environmental variables. The GCRO Barometer aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of development progress during 2002-2012 for Gauteng, South Africa’s most populous province, which can be utilized at the regional scale. Applied to the province of Gauteng, the Barometer demonstrates that welfare should not be measured solely on the basis of GDP.
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.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network Spain (REDS) launched the Spanish edition of the SDG Index and Dashboard. This analysis focuses on the SDG index for Spain, and has been carried work jointly by SDSN and the Bertelsmann Foundation. The Bertelsmann Foundation, which provided a global report and country ranking as an unofficial SDG monitoring tool in July 2016, ranked Spain 30th out of the 149 countries included in the index. The experts panel for the launch of the Spanish edition discussed the challenges faced by the country in achieving the SDGs, including SDGs 13 (climate action), 14 (terrestrial ecosystems), and 15 (marine ecosystems). Moreover, the panel explored areas of improvements for the country, focusing on SDG 4 (quality education) and 8 (decent work and growth for all). The launching event also encouraged the improvement of the indicators currently in use for the 2017 edition of the SDG index.
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition jointly launched the Food Sustainability Index (FSI) . The index ranks 25 countries on the sustainability of their food systems, utilising both qualitative and quantitative bench marking. It is based on 58 indicators which cover three pillars: “food loss and waste”, “sustainable agriculture” and “nutritional challenges”, assessing performance in environmental, social and economic terms. The analysis covers the G20 countries plus Nigeria, Ethiopia, Colombia, the UAE and Israel. France leads the ranking overall, as well as in the pillars on nutrition and food waste, while Germany is the leading country for the pillar sustainable agriculture. The FSI is supported by a dedicated website which includes country rankings, country profile, and a number of case studies and infographics.
The Sustainable Society Index (SSI) integrates economic, environmental and human well-being as a way to assess countries’ sustainability. The sixth edition of the SSI report covers 154 countries, comprising 99% of the world’s population. The three well-being dimensions are represented by 21 indicators, grouped in 7 categories: basic needs, personal development and health, well-balanced society, natural resources, climate and energy, transition, and economy. The 2016 results show that human well-being is the best performing dimension. High income countries perform best in human well-being and worst in environmental well-being, while the opposite is true for low-income countries. According to the ISS report, over the past 10 years, the world has become more sustainable. However, there is still no balance across the three dimensions and the world has better achieved sustainable Human well-being than sustainable economic and environmental well-being.
The Central Statistical Office of Poland (GUS) released the third edition of the publication Quality of life in Poland, presenting the updated set of core indicators that support the assessment of progress on the most important areas of quality of life. The core indicators are grouped into 8 domains referring to living conditions, including material living conditions, health, education, as well as the quality of the environment at the place of residence. The index also includes one domain regarding subjective wellbeing, which covers such concepts as satisfaction with life, emotional wellbeing, and sense of purpose in life.
Launched in 2011, the Canadian Index of Well-being highlights the components of well-being which Canadians value beyond economic productivity. This second edition of the index, published by the Faculty of Applied Health Science at the University of Waterloo, builds on 64 indicators covering 8 dimensions of well-being: community vitality, democratic engagement, education, environment, healthy populations, leisure and culture, living standards and time use. Indicators are mainly taken from data sources provided by Statistics Canada. Some indicators are taken from selected national and international sources. All the indicators are equally weighted. The 2016 Report analyses Canadians well-being evolution looking at trends from 1994 to 2014. Data show that after 2008 the economy recovered, but Canadians' well-being took a significant step back and only recently started to recovery. Over the considered period, some areas, such as leisure and culture and environment, suffered more. The education domain has instead largely kept pace with GDP.
Sustainable Commune Monitor is a programme developed by the "Bertelsmann Stiftung" and the German Institute for Urban Studies (DIFU). The objective of the project is to measure the state of sustainable development at the local level across Germany’s municipalities. As well as a survey on local policies and initiatives to support sustainable development, the monitor draws on a set of 125 indicators, including 37 core-indicators, covering four dimensions: economy, environment, society and governance. In total 519 municipalities participated; of those with a population of over 5,000 inhabitants, data on sustainable development is published on a web-portal. A two- parts report provides detailed summaries of the most up to date results.
PwC and Demos published the Good Growth for Cities Index 2016 that measures urban economic wellbeing in the United Kingdom as seen through the eyes of the public. The 10 city-characteristics, which were chosen by the public and are included in the report, reflect economic, social, and environmental aspects, such as the adequacy of income, entrepreneurship, health, work-life balance, environmental protection etc. The index for 2016 has shown an improvement in all cities’ scores relative to the previous year, with Oxford and Reading remaining at the top of the list. On the other end there are less affluent cities like Middlesbrough and Sunderland which are found at the lowest ranking mainly as a result of their weaker performance in highly weighted areas of the index like jobs and incomes. The report, in its fifth edition, suggests that cities, especially due to foreseeable changes linked to Brexit, should develop action plans prioritising investments in social and physical infrastructure.
Statistics Austria have published the report “How’s Austria 2016”, which has the overarching aim to complement GDP and provide a wider picture of the country’s socio-economic development. This fourth edition of the report provides an update on 30 key indicators and associated sub-indicators. The indicators cover three dimensions, material wellbeing, life quality, and the environment. In the environmental field, whilst progress has been made on emissions of greenhouse gases and particulate matter, Austria performs less well on issues such as material consumption (at 22 tons per capita), land use and energy use. The report compiles data gathered at the EU level, such as the Europe 2020 indicators, and national level data, such as the Household, Finance and Consumption Survey conducted by the National Bank of Austria. In 2017, the methodology for How’s Austria will be revised to take into account the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators.
'Global Perspectives' published the Indigo Score, which measures a country’s future potential by looking at its state of socio-economic infrastructure shaping economic performance. The Score is based on five domains: Stability and Legal Framework, Creativity and Innovation, Economic Diversity, Digital Economy, and Freedom. More than 30 indicators cover aspects such as: political stability and corruption, educational level and expenditures on R&D, property rights, and patent and trademark applications, ICT exports and internet users, and press freedom and democracy rankings. Scores on each of the five domains are aggregated to estimate an overall Indigo score for each country. Nordic countries are among the first five, scoring higher in Creativity and Innovation and in Freedom, both of which seem to be key drivers of the overall scores. The countries with lowest chance of prosperity, such as Syria and Iraq, are affected by mainly war and political turmoil.
SolAbility, a Swiss-Korean consultancy, released the 2016 report on the Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index, which provides a measure of current and future capability of countries to generate financial as well as non-financial income and wealth. By gathering data on 109 indicators, the 2016 Index ranks countries across 5 pillars: governance, intellectual capital, social capital, resource management, and natural capital. Scandinavian countries result to be the top scoring economies of the index for the 5th consecutive year. Northern-European countries top the social cohesion dimension while the world’s largest economy, the US, ranks 32 showing particularly low scores on social cohesion and resource intensity.
The Living Standard Framework (LSF), developed by the New Zealand Treasury was presented in a background paper for the “2016 Statement on the Long-Term Fiscal Position: Living standards, well-being and public policy”. The paper, which further develops the first LSF of 2011, aims at providing answers to the remaining questions that revolve around the use of the LSF, drawing on the developments in the academic and policy literature on wellbeing in the last five years. The LSF encourages the use of a range of factors for policy-making which promote well-being for present and future generations. Such factors range across five policy-dimensions: economic growth, sustainability for the future, increasing equity, social cohesion, and managing risks. The resources that lift living standards are represented by the four capitals (natural, financial and physical, social, and human), underlying the wide conceptualization of the term “living standards” by which it is meant much more than just income.
The Happy City Index provides a measure for the progress of cities, in order to reach “sustainable well-being”. Developed by Happy City, a Bristol based NGO, the index is based on data collected for the 9 largest cities in England, which were ranked in 3 dimensions: equality, sustainability and city conditions. Equality is assessed through indicators of income inequality, health and well-being, while Sustainability is assessed through indicators on emissions, recycling patterns and energy consumption. The city conditions dimension is composed by 5 well-being domains: work, health, education, place and community. Each of these domains is further divided into sub-domains concerning key policy areas within each domain. The insights are presented through city maps, providing a picture of how the 9 cities are doing. The city conditions scores are then used to provide an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of each city. Bristol, London and Nottingham are the best performing cities.
Deutsche Post AG published the Happiness Atlas 2016 for Germany. This Atlas presents data on life satisfaction in 19 German regions, pulling together information from existing surveys and additional data collected ad hoc. The overall life satisfaction results from self-assessments on different dimensions such as work, health or living and leisure. Over the recent years, Germans have reported a largely increasing life satisfaction. The happiest Germans live in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, while the largest increase in happiness with respect to the previous edition is observed in the southern parts of the country. The 2016 edition of the Atlas contains a special analysis of how cultural diversity impacts on life satisfaction. 75% of the analysed sample regards Germany as an open and tolerant country and 65% considers immigration an enriching experience. At the same time, only 44% thinks that the coexistence of people with different backgrounds works out well.
Research by Gallup and Healthways examines the impacts that "active living environments", i.e. investments in bike paths, parks, walkability and public transit, have on urban wellbeing. The study considers the populations of 48 medium to large size metropolitan communities in the USA and analyses their wellbeing in four key dimensions: walkability, bike-ability, parks and public transit. For instance, the bike ability captures how good a location is for biking based on the number of bike lanes, hills, destination and road connectivity as well as cycling as a modal share of commuting. Scores between 0 – 100 are assigned to each of these dimensions (Walk Score, Park Score, Transit Score and Bike Score) and then aggregated into a composite indicator (Active Living score), measuring each community's wellbeing. Results show that the best performing living in environment is the Boston area. The analysis also provides a number of policy recommendations to adopt strategies to improve active living in US cities.
Balancing the needs of today without compromising those of tomorrow is necessary to make cities sustainable. The Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index measures three dimensions of urban sustainability: social (People), environmental (Planet) and economic (Profit). The 2016 edition of the index is based on an expanded data set covering 100 cities (compared to 50 in the previous edition) at different stages of evolution. The overall score of each city is given by the average of the scores separately obtained on each of the three sub-indexes. The findings indicate that no city effectively balances all three dimensions of sustainability. Overall, European cities perform better than emerging cities Zurich is the best performing city and also reaches the highest score in the Planet sub-index.
Dual Citizen LLC, a US based consultancy firm, launched in 2010 the Global Green Economy Index (GGEI) drawing on the OECD Handbook on Constructing Composite Indicators. The 2016 edition of the GGEI performance index is based on 32 quantitative and qualitative indicators measuring the performance of 80 countries and 50 cities on four key green economy dimensions: leadership & climate change, efficiency sectors, markets & investment, and environment & natural capital. Sweden is the top performing country, followed by Norway, Finland and Switzerland. Copenhagen was the top performing ‘green city’ in the perception survey, followed by Stockholm, Vancouver, Oslo and Singapore. This index is complemented with a GGEI “Perception Survey” collecting assessments from expert practitioners on the same four dimensions. According to respondents, the best perceived performer is Germany, followed by United States, Denmark and Sweden.
The Positive Peace Index is multidimensional measure of attitudes, structures and institutions which are at the core of a peaceful society. It is applied to 162 countries covering over 99% of the world's population and based on eight pillars: well-functioning government, sound business environment, equitable distribution of resources, acceptance of the rights of others, good relations with neighbours, free flow of information, high levels of human capital and low levels of corruption. Each pillar is covered by 3 indicators. Findings for the 2016 edition of the index show that from 2005 to 2015 73% of the considered countries have improved their ranking. Best performers are Northern European countries: Denmark and Finland with the same score, followed by Sweden and Norway.
Developed by the Boston Consulting Group and available since 2012, the Sustainable Economic Development Assessment (SEDA) measures wellbeing through 44 indicators covering three elements and ten dimensions: economics (income, economic stability and employment), investments (health, education and infrastructure) and sustainability (income equality, civil society, governance and environment). Each countries' scores reflects current levels of and improvements in well-being, which are calculated overall and for each of the ten dimensions. Such scores capture how effectively countries convert income into wellbeing and economic growth into wellbeing improvements. The 2016 SEDA was applied to 162 countries and Hong Kong. While western European countries reach the top wellbeing levels, Asian and African countries exhibit the most considerable recent progress. The scores of 15 sub-Saharan countries are in the top quintile for recent progress.
The Happy Planet Index (HPI) 2016 results have been published. Since the last HPI issue published in 2012, the indicator has integrated a measure of inequality of outcomes. It is now calculated as a combination of experienced wellbeing (i.e. overall life satisfaction), life expectancy and ecological footprint per capita (i.e. the average impact each resident has on the environment). It is then adjusted by the inequality of outcomes (i.e. inequality within a country with respect to experienced wellbeing and life expectancy). Thus it gives an estimation of how efficiently residents of different countries are using environmental resources to lead long, happy lives. Most countries topping the index are from Latin America and the Asian Pacific region, as the developed western countries' high ecological footprint significantly reduces their scores. Costa Rica reaches the first position once again, while Chad is ranked last. More surprisingly, Luxembourg is second last due to its high ecological footprint per capita.
The Social Progress Index measures social and environmental progress independently of, but complimentarily to, GDP. The 2016 index introduces some methodological innovations with respect to the 2014 and 2015 editions. The index is based on 53 social and environmental indicators covering outcomes on 12 components. Data sources have been modified and some indicators have been replaced. As a result, the 2016 index covers 133 countries across all indicators of each component and other 27 countries with results for only 9 to 11 components. As a whole, 99% of the world’s population is covered. Countries are awarded an aggregate score between 0 and 100, a higher score representing a higher level of social progress. The best scoring countries for 2016 were Finland, Canada and Denmark. Findings reveal that countries achieve widely divergent levels of social progress at similar levels of GDP per capita. Hence, economic performance alone does not fully explain social progress. The index is also provided for regions, cities and communities. 2014 and 2015 scores have been recalculated according to the new adopted methodology for comparability reasons.
Asian Urban-wellbeing Indicators have been published by Civic Exchange, a Hong Kong based think tank, since 2012. Data originally came from public opinion polls assessing public satisfaction across 10 policy domains relevant to urban life in Asian cities – including housing, medical care, education environmental protection and public safety. The new report illustrates the results of a survey conducted in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore. Approximately 1,500 people were surveyed in each city, with a focus on subjective attitudes as opposed to policy inputs and outputs. Respondents were asked about their satisfaction across each of the 10 domains and then how much they cared about the domain. A comparison between the two questions was used to identify a “caring-satisfaction gap”. A notable result was that environmental protection was seen to be significantly more important in Shanghai than the other two cities.
The Legatum Institute published the 2016 Africa Prosperity Report, aimed to assess how effectively national economic development in Sub-Saharan African countries has been transformed into prosperity and wellbeing. The methodology applied compares per capita GDP against the Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index, which results from eight socio- economic sub-indexes. Results show that economic growth in those countries is not always converted into higher levels of prosperity. Countries are ranked according to the “Prosperity Gap”, i.e. whether they have over (prosperity surplus) or under-achieved (prosperity deficit) in creating more prosperous societies given their levels of wealth. For example, Rwanda has a third of Angola’s wealth but has been “more successful at creating a prosperous nation”. . The best performing countries are Rwanda, Senegal, Morocco and Burkina Faso, whilst the Central African Republic, Angola, Chad and Sudan are the worst performing.
Rio de Janeiro has become the second city in the world (after Bogota, Colombia) to create a Social Progress Index (SPI) to monitor sub-city level performance on social progress. SPI assesses social and environmental outcomes, arranged in 3 dimensions (basic needs, foundations of wellbeing, opportunities) composed of 12 components that are measured with 52 indicators. The results released on the 17th of May were presented in a social map of the 32 administrative regions of the city. They revealed major inequalities between the different regions: the overall scores of two regions were higher than 85 out of 100, whereas six other regions scored lower than 45. The main weaknesses identified for the whole city regard access to higher education and sustainability of ecosystems.
As recognised by one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 11 – Make cities, inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable), city resilience is considered as a key driver of urban development. Today, threats such as climate change, infrastructure deficit and unplanned growth challenge the competitiveness of cities and the well-being of their citizens. Developed by Arup with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, the City Resilience Index is the first comprehensive measure of relative performance over time. It results from a three-year research on 27 cities across the world and provides a city-specific resilience profile based on 12 goals and 52 indicators, across 4 key dimensions: health and well-being, economy and society, infrastructure and environment, leadership and strategy. It proposes an international approach to understand the drivers of city resilience. The tool can support policy-makers in building sound strategies to tackle risks faced by cities.
The “Looking through the Wellbeing Kaleidoscope” report is the final output of the one-year project "Making Wellbeing Count for Policy" funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and led by City University. This report draws on European Social Survey data to investigate different approaches for understanding and measuring wellbeing beyond the use of the single individual measure of life satisfaction. It considers contributions from three UK based institutions: 1) a measure of comprehensive psychological wellbeing, i.e. the Comprehensive Psychological Wellbeing (CPWB) index, developed by the University of Cambridge and covering ten aspects of wellbeing; 2) inequalities in wellbeing and 3) participation in behaviours believed to improve wellbeing ("five ways to wellbeing") explored by the New Economics Foundation (NEF); 4) the determinants of perceived quality of society (PQOS), i.e. people’s satisfaction with key institutions in society, empirically analysed by City University London.
Produced by the “Institut Think” for the think tank “Fabrique Spinoza”, the Indicateur Trimestriel du Bonheur des Français (ITBF) measures the happiness of French population. Intended to be released on a quarterly basis in order to follow the rhythm of national GDP publications, its first edition was released on April 29. It draws on an online survey, consisting of 47 questions, carried out on 1001 adults considered to be a representative sample of the French population. The survey addresses three dimensions of happiness: individual happiness, environment elements (including nature and environment) and individual happiness functioning . The happiness of French population is found to be modest with an average score of 5.9 out of 10. 18% of people were found to be very unhappy (scoring less than 3), whilst 28% were found to be very happy (scoring more than 8).
On April 28th, at the end of the international conference “Social Progress – What works?”, the City of Reykjavík and the Social Progress Imperative signed a memorandum of understanding to apply the Social Progress Index (SPI) to monitor the well-being of the capital’s residents. The SPI assesses social and environmental outcomes through 54 indicators complementing traditional economic measures such as GDP. The SPI has already been applied at national level in 161 countries, including Iceland, at regional (NUTS2) level for the European Union, and at subnational and local level in parts of Latin America. The Reykjavík initiative is the first one promoted at the urban level in Europe. Local authorities, businesses, civil society and academia will be involved in tailoring this new index.
The Measuring Wellbeing in Northern Ireland Roundtable was established on the 24th March 2014 by the Carnegie Trust, a charitable organisation promoting sustainable social development in the UK. The objective of the roundtable was to establish a shared understanding of international and national policy debates on wellbeing, measurements of economic performance and social progress, in order to highlight their relevance for Northern Ireland decision makers. The first roundtable meeting held at the Queen’s University Belfast convened executives from Northern Irish think tanks, universities, NGOs and regional authorities. The results of this meeting were collected in a technical background report providing analytical comments and in a summary report proposing 10 recommendations. Recommendations include promoting wellbeing and its monitoring in public services, regular reporting and communication to the public through adequate tools, developing a training and capacity building programme for bodies responsible for implementation.
The 2016 update of the World Happiness Report, which ranks 156 countries according to their happiness, was published on 20th March, the International Day of Happiness. Five European countries score the highest in the ranking: Denmark followed by Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Finland. For the first time, the 2016 Update looks at happiness inequality both within and between societies, across regions and countries. The editors argue that well-being inequality reflects the overall inequality, since people living in societies where there is a less unequal happiness distribution are happier. However, in most countries and in 8 out of the 10 considered regions happiness inequality is increasing.
The 2016 National Footprint Accounts show an 8% increase in the global ecological footprint with respect to the previous edition. This has mainly driven by a 16% increase in the global carbon footprint, which makes up to 60% of the world's ecological footprint. A country's annual demand for natural resources and ecological services provided by lands and seas (Ecological footprint) can be compared to the supply of these goods and services provided by this country's ecosystems (Bio-capacity). This new edition introduces several improvements in the accounting methodology. A new methodology for calculating the Average Forest Carbon Sequestration value shows that forests are providing less net-sequestration than previously calculated. Therefore, the world’s ecological footprint exceeds its bio-capacity. A country specific analysis is also provided, showing that some countries, e.g. Singapore, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Japan, present a bio-capacity deficit, while some others, e.g. Guyana, Congo, Bolivia and Brazil, present a bio-capacity reserve.
Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey measures the status of life quality in cities, and these indicators are generally used for calculating compensations of expatriate employees by multinational companies and other employers – it allows for city-to-city comparisons. The 18th edition of the survey is based on 39 factors gathered in 10 categories including political, social, economic and natural environment. According to the latest edition of the survey, which contains rankings for 230 cities, in many cases European cities offer potential for the highest quality of life in the world. The report conclusions suggest that safety is a key factor in determining expats quality of living, with Luxembourg presenting the highest score, followed by Bern, Helsinki and Zurich. Overall quality of living reaches the highest score with Vienna, followed by Zurich, Auckland and Munich.
The 2015 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ranks U.S. states according to their well-being. Created in 2008, the Well-Being Index is a composite indicator on a scale from 0 to 100, based on interviews about five aspects of wellbeing: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. The 2015 index is based on 177,281 telephone interviews (in both English and Spanish) to adults across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Overall, the well-being level in the US remained almost constant from 2014 to 2015, at around 61.5. At 64.8, Hawaii had the highest level of well-being, followed by Alaska and Montana. West Virginia had the lowest mark at 58.5 and was the only state scoring below 60. The report underscores an ongoing consistency in this ranking, especially at the bottom of the spectrum. West Virginia and Kentucky have always taken up the end of the list since the index began. Overall, a number of wellbeing indicators have improved since measurement began in 2008, such as the share of people without health insurance. However, other metrics like obesity have been deteriorating over time.
Degrowth Accounts provide a methodology to assess the extent to which countries have successfully improved their citizens' quality of life without increasing resource consumption. This approach is based on a set of 16 biophysical (Biophysical Accounts) and social indicators (Social Accounts) derived from Herman Daly's definition of a steady-state economy and the social goals of the degrowth movement. The analysis published in the Journal of Cleaner Production applies Degrowth Accounts to 181 countries over a 10-year period. The majority of countries in the world has a biophysical growth economy. No country has an economy with a stable level of resource consumption within ecological limits, although Colombia, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, Romania, and South Africa come relatively close. Countries with stable resource consumption or with greater per capita resource consumption perform better on many social indicators. The analysis calls for a more efficient transformation of natural resources into human well-being if all 7 billion people on earth are to lead a good life within ecological limits.
04. - 06.11.2015
International Conference on Gross National Happiness
The Fifth International Conference on Gross National Happiness (GNH), “From GNH Philosophy to Praxis and Policy”, is taking place from 4 to 6 November in Paro, Bhutan. Organised by the Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research (CBS), the conference brings together researchers, policy makers and civil society to share knowledge on alternative approaches measuring development and wellbeing, with a focus on Gross National Happiness. Best practices and challenges for integrating GNH into policy and decision-making will also be discussed.
Find more information, also here.
2015 Legatum Prosperity Index published
Every year, the Legatum Prosperity Index ranks 142 countries according to eight areas: Economy: Entrepreneurship & Opportunity; Governance; Education; Health; Safety & Security; Personal Freedom and Social Capital. According to the report recently published, Norway, Switzerland and Denmark perform best. Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East countries are among the least prosperous. During the last seven years, Indonesia and Rwanda have registered the biggest improvement.
Find more information.
Read the full report (pdf, 6.8 MB).
27. - 28.10.2015
October Days for Sustainable Development in Luxembourg
In the European Year of Development and following to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the University of Luxembourg and the European Investment Bank organise a public conference and a scientific forum on Sustainable Development in Luxembourg. The aim is providing assessments and recommendations to increase awareness on sustainable development, both in EU Member States and developing countries. Particular emphasis is placed on the availability and identification of suitable data sets needed to measure progress towards sustainable development.
Find more information on programm and registration.
Five headline indicators to assess UK’s national success
The UK think tank NEF (New Economics Foundation) has proposed five new headline indicators measuring national success to realign policy priorities. The policy areas and goals identified (on good jobs, wellbeing, environment, fairness and health) reflect recent research on indicator design and a broad consultation with experts and organisations across UK. The proposed indicators allow to measure progress towards the five policy goals, indicating mixed progress in these policy areas. In its report, NEF calls on the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) to adopt and refine these headline measures.
Find more information.
Read the full report (pdf, 1.7 MB).
Australian Unity, in partnership with the Australian Centre on Quality of Life at Deakin University, recently published their third edition of “What Makes us Happy?”. The report brings to light the findings of the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index – using Australia’s largest well-being survey, a bi-annual sample of 2,000 Australians over the last 15 years. This index measures both personal and national wellbeing. In assessing national wellbeing, the index looks at issues such as personal satisfaction with the economic conditions, government, social conditions, business, the environment and national security. On the whole, Australians were found to have quite high levels of wellbeing, with average scores on the Personal Wellbeing Index of between 73.9 and 76.7 on a 100 point scale. The Personal Wellbeing Index is associated with being stable over time. However, scores on the National Wellbeing Index tend to be more volatile and lower, with an average range of 55 and 65 points.
OECD publishes third edition of “How’s life?”
The OECD report “How’s life? 2015” analyses eleven essential aspects of well-being in OECD and partner countries. This edition focuses on well-being inequalities within countries, child well-being and volunteering. It also introduces new measures to capture some of the natural, human, social and economic resources that are relevant for well-being. Results show that the richest OECD countries tend to perform better overall, especially with respect to material well-being. However, weak performances in job security, air quality, housing affordability and work-life balance may occur at any level of GDP per capita.
Find more information.
A multidimensional measure of poverty: the Human Needs Index
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the Salvation Army have recently launched the Human Needs Index (HNI), a multidimensional measure to gauge poverty and vulnerability in the US. While traditional measures of poverty are based on income, the HNI includes data on services commonly delivered by the non-profit sector: meals, groceries, clothing and furniture provision; housing, medical and energy assistance. Published quarterly since 2004 at national and regional level, the index shows a gradual increase of human needs until 2010 and a substantial reduction since 2012. By giving a detailed picture of the population’s needs, the HNI can support NGOs and local policymakers in adopting specific measures to address poverty.
Find more information.
Read the executive summary (pdf, 463 kB).
Read the full report (pdf, 2.6 MB).
Economic growth unlikely to achieve Global Goals
In "Social Progress in 2030", Deloitte UK and the Social Progress Imperative explore the potential of economic growth to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Although economic growth has significantly contributed to raise living standards and eradicate poverty in the past, growth is unlikely to achieve the same effect again for the SDGs. Using data from the Social Progress Index, the report shows that future growth would only slightly increase social progress. Instead, a "productivity revolution" in creating social value is needed. In order to boost global social progress, efforts should focus on tackling societal challenges in the "Big Six", the six countries comprising almost half of the population in 2030 (Brazil, Indonesia, China, India, Nigeria and Pakistan).
Find more information.
Read the press release (pdf, 118 kB).
Find more information on the Social Progress Index.
Workshop on “Beyond GDP” initiative
The Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) organised a workshop on the “Beyond GDP” European initiative as part of the "New prosperity" Seminar in Paris. The focus was on the achievements of “Beyond GDP”, main limitations and future challenges, such as public participation and developing synthetic indicators.
Find more information on the “Beyond GDP” seminar (in French).
Find more information on the New Prosperity Seminar.
The Boston Indicators Project recently published its mid-term report. The project aims to be the primary data source for the Greater Boston area and to increase public access to high quality data on shared civic goals. The initiative tracks prosperity and wellbeing across 10 sectors, such as Environment & Energy and Economy, and 6 cross-cutting areas, including Sustainable Development and Fiscal Health. 70 goals and 150 indicators are employed to do this. The Boston Indicators Project collaborates with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, feeding data into the MetroBoston DataCommon, an interactive and open access portal and mapping tool giving citizens access to local data. A notable revelation from this progress report was that income equality has deteriorated in the last 15 years. As of 2015, Boston is ranked as the 3rd most unequal city in the United States.
KFW Sustainability Indicator assesses Germany’s progress towards sustainability
Since 2007, the government-owned development bank KFW annually reports on Germany‘s progress towards sustainable development. Based on 24 indicators covering the economy, the environment and social cohesion, the 2015 study suggests that the trend towards greater sustainability continues. Especially the high levels of labour force participation, substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, improvements in energy productivity and better health are contributing to the good results. However, there are substantial backlogs regarding infrastructure investment, raw material productivity, air pollution, biodiversity, education, as well as economic and political participation.
Read the press release.
Read the executive summary (pdf, 74.8 kB).
Read the full report (German, pdf, 877 kB).
Social Progress Index launched for 10 Colombian cities
For the first time, the Social Progress Index (SPI) has been applied to cities, after having being calculated for 133 countries and various regions. The #Progreso Social Colombia, a network of different institutions, has presented the results of the SPI for 10 Colombian cities, covering a total of 17 million inhabitants. The analysis covering data from 2009 to 2014, shows that several cities need to better meet their basic human needs and improve the foundations of wellbeing. It also reveals that economic performance and social progress do not necessarily go hand in hand.
Find more information.
Read the executive summary (Spanish, pdf, 1.1 MB).
Read the full report (Spanish, pdf, 3.3 MB).
SDG Index reveals major backlogs in high-income countries
Many developed countries are not prepared for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, as suggested by a new study of the Bertelsmann Foundation. Based on 34 indicators linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the study compiles the first SDG Index for the OECD countries. Although the capacity to meet these goals varies greatly, all countries face major challenges with respect to inclusive economic development, inequalities and resource overuse. The Scandinavian countries are ranked first across all indicators, whereas the US, Greece and Hungary are among the worst performers. Despite the generally positive link between GDP and the SDG Index, a number of countries with relatively few economic resources achieve high SDG results. Countries doing well in terms of sustainable development also tend to be happier.
Read the full report.
Rising gap between Oregon’s Genuine Progress Indicator and economic development
The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) measures prosperity in terms of economic, environmental and social aspects, including a set of 26 indicators. It has been calculated for 17 countries and seven US states. Maryland and Vermont (USA) have officially adopted GPI to support policy analysis. A recent study on Oregon (USA) shows that since 2000, GPI grew less rapidly than Gross State Product (GSP), a regional metric based on GDP. This divergence can be explained by rising inequality, loss of farmland and declining private consumption as a share of GSP. US GPI per capita already stopped to increase in 1975.
Find more information on the GPI.
Read the full report.
Earth Overshoot Day 2015: 1.6 Earths required to sustain current way of living
The Earth Overshoot Day marks the day when, according to estimates, humanity's demand for natural resources exceeds Earth's ability to produce them. In 2015 it fell on 13 August (i.e. 6 days earlier than in 2014). It is calculated by comparing the Ecological Footprint, indicating the area of land required to supply human’s demand on nature, with biocapacity, i.e. the ecosystems' capacity to regenerate natural resources and to absorb waste. Although the Footprint exceeds biocapacity on a global scale (ecological deficit), some countries have an ecological reserve. The existence of an ecological deficit or reserve provides some information about sustainable development as an alternative to economic measures such as GDP.
Find more information.
Sustainable Governance Indicators 2015 published
The fourth edition of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) has been released. Covering 41 EU and OECD countries, the SGI aim at contributing to a factual and data-driven debate on good governance and sustainable policy outcomes. These 140 indicators combine quantitative data from official statistic sources with experts' qualitative assessments. They measure sustainable governance with respect to three pillars: Policy Performance, Democracy and Governance. Results for 2015 show Scandinavian countries, Switzerland and Germany being the top performers, while Southern and Eastern European countries ranking among the weaker performers.
Find more information.
Read the report on SGI 2015 (pdf, 7.2 MB).
Valuing our Life Support Systems report released
The UK Natural Capital Initiative (NCI) has released the report "Valuing our Life Support Systems 2014"at the Houses of Parliament, provoking a lively debate about the future of the natural capital approach. This report conveys to policy makers, researchers and businesses the main messages emerged during the second natural capital summit hosted by NCI in November 2014. Natural capital substantially contributes to our economy, health and well-being. Its value therefore provides an alternative measurement of our wealth with respect to GDP. In order to contrast the risk of equalizing in this way the notion of national capital to whichever tradable commodity, the related ethical and political dimensions cannot be elided.
Find more information.
Read the summary report (pdf, 5.5 MB).
Multidimensional Poverty Index: The majority of poor people lives in middle income countries
In June 2015, the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) presented an updated version of the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The MPI covers three dimensions of poverty (education, health and living standards) captured by ten different indicators. It is available for 101 countries, corresponding to 75% of the world’s population. According to the latest findings, 1.6 billion people are living in multidimensional poverty, of which almost half are destitute and live in extreme poverty. Around 70% of MPI poor people live in middle income countries.
Find more information.
China implements Gross Ecosystem Product in Yantian District of Shenzen
In 2015, the Yantian District of the Shenzhen City, in the Chinese Guangdong Province, has begun to implement a dual accounting, operating and promoting mechanism involving both GDP and Urban Gross Ecosystem Product (GEP). By putting an economic value on all ecosystem products and services nature provides for human well-being, the GEP captures the benefits deriving to urban residents from improving their living environment. The intention is to calculate each year the figures for the two indexes and to achieve GDP growth without compromising GEP. It is planned to include the Urban GEP in the government performance appraisal system and the assessment system for ecological development. Thanks to a change in energy and sustainable mobility policies, from 2013 to 2014 150 million Yuan of ecological value were created and therefore the GEP has increased. The GEP development is in line with the new Eco-Civilization initiative, one of the top priorities established by the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
Find more information.
Read more about GEP and ecological civilisation.
On 7th May 2015, the European University Institute’s Global Governance Programme (GGP) and the Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation (FFMS) officially launched GlobalStat. This is an online tool giving public access to more than 500 indicators on various subjects, covering all 193 UN member states. Data are provided from 1960 to present day and come from over 80 institutions, including Eurostat, FAO and the ILO, with whom GlobalStat collaborates. The database is user-friendly and provides different visualizations of the results, tutorials and methodological explanations. The initiative expressly intends to go “Beyond GDP” by providing economic, social, political, and cultural indicators, as well as well-being composite indicators such as the Happy Planet Index.
Sovereign Wellbeing Index on New Zealanders’ wellbeing
The insurance company Sovereign has published the second report on the Sovereign Wellbeing Index, based on the results of a survey conducted in 2014. In partnership with the Human Potential Centre at AUT University, Sovereign has created this index in 2012 to measure wellbeing in New Zealand based on the methodology of the European Social Survey. The 2015 results show that wellbeing increases with rising incomes, being employed, job satisfaction and health status. Also eating healthy, physical exercise and social relationships have a positive impact on New Zealanders' wellbeing. One interesting finding is that effective money management contributes to a larger extent to wellbeing, compared to income itself.
Find more information on the index.
Read the full report (pdf, 1 MB).
Social Progress Index 2015 issued
The Social Progress Index offers a comprehensive framework for measuring multiple dimensions of social progress. The 2015 version has been improved based on the feedback from many observers. Social progress is measured for 133 countries through 52 indicators covering basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing and opportunity. Despite the positive correlation between GDP level and social progress, social progress can considerably vary for countries with similar levels of GDP per capita. Particular emphasis in the 2015 report is placed on inequality and poverty, international aid and life satisfaction.
Find more information.
Read the executive summary (pdf, 5.4 MB).
Read the full report (pdf, 3.7 MB).
Latin American’s are the happiest people in the world
According to the Gallup Positive Experience Index, the top 10 happiest countries in the world are all in Latin America. A survey conducted in 2014 asked people in 143 countries whether they have experienced certain positive and negative experiences the day before (e.g. laughing and smiling, feeling respected, stress or physical pain). The answers have been grouped into two index scores known as Positive Experience Index and Negative Experience Index. The lowest positive emotions are reported in the Middle East and North Africa region. Guatemala, one of the poorest countries in the world, ranks second in the Gallup survey.
Find more information.
On 16th March, the Índice de Coherencia de Políticas para el Desarrollo (Index of Policy Coherence for Development) was launched by Plataforma 2015 y más, along with a report entitled ICPD 2016: Crecer en otro sentido (ICPD 2016: Growing in another sense). Plataforma 2015 y más is an organisation made up of 11 NGOs, including Economistas sin Fronteras, Arquitectos sin Fronteras and Alianza por la Solidaridad. The index evaluates the progress of 133 countries from a sustainable development perspective. Country performance is judged based on public policies and their local and global impacts on people's and planet wellbeing. 49 variables grouped into 5 components (social, environmental, economic, global and productive) are considered to evaluate 20 public policies. 18 of these variables are associated with phenomena that contravene sustainable development, such as military spending and early school leaving. The other 31 are associated with phenomena that favour sustainable development, such as the ratification of treaties on universal social justice and inequality reduction.
Growth in natural resource demand mostly driven by China
According to Global Footprint Network, China is the world’s largest contributor to annual growth in demand for ecological resources and services. Whereas the world’s Ecological Footprint (EF) increased by nearly 4% in 2010 and nearly 1.7% in 2011, in the same years China registered growth rates of 3.6% and 5.2%. While during the recession the EF of many countries declined, China and India has experienced a raising EF, in 2011 representing together about one quarter of the global EF. The EF per capita in China and India is nevertheless still substantially lower than that of many high-income countries: the US per capita EF is more than seven times higher than that of India and almost three times higher than that of China.
Read full article.
Irish Forum on Natural Capital initiated
The Irish Forum on Natural Capital (IFNC) brings together a diverse range of organisations and individuals from academic, public, private and NGO sectors who are interested in promoting natural capital accounting (NCA) in Ireland. The Forum aims at developing accounting standards in Ireland to enhance informed decision-making by taking into account the natural wealth and services provided by nature. The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 foresees that all EU Member States set up natural capital accounting (NCA) by 2020.
Find more information on the forum.
1st edition of Sustainable Cities Index released
ARCADIS in cooperation with the Centre for Economics and Business Research has developed the Sustainable Cities Index, which ranks 50 of the world’s leading cities according to social, environmental and economic demands. Among the top ten, seven European cities can be found with Frankfurt, London and Copenhagen at the top. Mainly due to rather weak performances with respect to environmental and social sub-indices, no North American city made it to the top ten.. The index aims to support decision-makers to identify sustainable development opportunities.
Find more information.
Read the press release (pdf, 100 kB).
03. - 04.02.2015
Launch of Global Wellbeing Lab 2.0
The Global Wellbeing Lab is a joint learning and action platform organized by the Presencing Institute (Boston), the GIZ Global Leadership Academy (Germany) and the Gross National Happiness Centre (Bhutan). The first Global Wellbeing and GNH2 Lab (Lab 1.0) was launched in January 2013. The second one (Lab 2.0) has been launched at the beginning of February 2015 and will continue until early 2016. Building on the lessons and experiences from Lab 1.0, Lab 2.0 aims at exploring initiatives in shifting institutions beyond narrowly measured indicators of success (e.g. profit or growth) to broader societal and environmental objectives.
Find more information (pdf, 363 kB).
Moving beyond GDP could contribute to poverty reduction in Africa
According to Lorenzo Fioramonti, Professor at the University of Pretoria, moving beyond GDP would support Africa in fighting poverty and attaining sustainable wellbeing. In a GSDR (Global Sustainable Development Report) 2015 Brief, he argues that GDP does not measure the costs resulting from the export of (mostly non-renewable) resources, a strategy most fast-growing African economies are depending on. In contrast, GDP disregards informal economies, the contribution of subsistence farming or non-commercial agriculture. Therefore, developing new indicators on human well-being, health, education, decent work and ecological aspects would support African countries in pursuing a different development model, which is based on more localized forms of self-production and consumption.
Read the GSDR 2015 brief.