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A SELECTION OF INTERNATIONAL PROJECTS
Monitoring Sustainable Development in Switzerland (MONET) – 2003
‘Health must be maintained and promoted.’ – Swiss Federal Statistical Office 2010.
‘Every individual should earn enough to secure vital necessities and have discretionary disposable income.’ – Swiss Federal Statistical Office 2010.
The Swiss Government developed MONET as a tool for assessing whether Switzerland is ‘on the road to sustainable development’ (Swiss Federal Statistical Office 2010).Using a traffic-light approach, the initiative displays 16 indicators (see table below) to determine whether the country is making improvements under the following headings:
Gallup World Poll – 2005
Active in more than 140 countries, the Gallup World Poll tracks public attitudes towards political, social and economic issues (see Gallup 2012). The Gallup world path (see Figure 5.3) uses the poll responses to measure progress towards national well-being. The seven components of the world path are informed by the poll responses.
Figure 5.3: Gallup World Path to Progress, Gallup website
Happy Planet Index – 2006
The Happy Planet Index was released in 2006 as a new approach to comparing nations’ progress by taking sustainability into account (see new economics foundation 2010). Developed by Nic Marks of the new economics foundation, the ‘Happy Planet Index’ ranks nations according to how well they are doing in terms of supporting their people to live long and happy lives, while ensuring that future generations can do the same. It combines environmental impact with well-being to assign each country with an index, based on three measures:
‘Psychological well-being leads to desirable outcomes, even economic ones, and does not necessarily follow from them.’ – Centre for Bhutan Studies 2012.
Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a philosophy that assists thinking about progress and advancing national happiness in Bhutan. Observing the effect of economic development on the cultural fabric of other nations, it was conceived of in the 1970s by then King Jigme Signye Wangchuck as a way of thinking about progress in terms wider than economic development. Practically, this has resulted in an approach to measuring national progress that looks at whether both material needs are being met, as well as the spiritual, emotional and cultural needs of Bhutanese society. This approach heralded a new way of thinking about progress, garnering international attention and directing thinking about progress towards the effect of growth on individual happiness and well-being.
‘Governance cuts across all domains/sectors and therefore, its effect on the society at large arises from the cumulative efforts of all sectors’ – Centre for Bhutan Studies 2012.
The Centre for Bhutan Studies produced an index using responses from their Gross National Happiness Survey. The nine domains of gross national happiness are:
Quality of Life recommendations, Commission on Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress – 2009
The Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi report highlighted the limitations of using GDP to describe societal well-being and outlined 30 recommendations to better measure progress and related ideas. The report outlined three areas that should be considered: economy, quality of life, and sustainability. With regard to measuring quality of life, the report recommended focusing on eight areas:
Measuring New Zealand’s Progress Using a Sustainable Development Approach – 2009
In 2009, Statistics New Zealand released its report ‘Measuring New Zealand’s progress using a sustainable development approach: 2008’ (Statistics New Zealand 2009). Their approach was to look at national progress through the lens of sustainability, asking the question: ‘How is New Zealand progressing towards or away from sustainable development?’ The most recent update presents 16 key indicators (see table below), answering four key questions:
Canadian Index of Well-being – 2009
‘Individuals’ relationship to their community – both in terms of the stock and flow of resources and opportunities available to people and in terms of the strength and quality of relationships that people enjoy – is inextricably linked to well-being.’ – Canadian Index of Well-being (2011: 2).
The University of Waterloo, together with many other organisations, has developed the Canadian Index of Well-being to ‘measure what matters’ most to Canadians (see Michalos et al. 2011). To describe the index the ‘Mandala of well-being’ (see Figure 5.4.) for thinking about how various aspects of society relate to well-being. The index uses an array of indicators taken from survey responses and national data. The indicators are organised into eight domains:
Figure 5.4: Mandala of well-being, Canadian Index of Well-being (see Michalos et.al. 2011: 7)
Europe 2020 Strategy, European Union – 2010
Europe 2020 is a strategy aimed at developing ‘a smarter, knowledge based, greener economy, delivering high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion’ within the European Union (see European Commission 2012).The strategy uses five headline targets, comprising indicators which stand as national goals. The targets are:
Better Life Initiative, OECD – 2011
‘The frequency of contact with others and the quality of personal relationships are crucial determinants of people’s well-being.’ – OECD (2011b: 170).
‘Having a job that matches one’s aspirations and competencies and that pays adequate earnings is a universal aspiration of people around the globe.’ – OECD (2011b: 57).
The Better Life Index, accompanied by the ‘How’s life?’ report, is part of the OECD’s commitment to answering the question ‘Is life getting better?’ (OECD 2011b).The initiative is centred on individual well-being, tracking the improvement of people’s lives. It organises indicators under two major domains: material living conditions and quality of life. Complementary to these domains is a third domain – Sustainability of well-being over time, though this is out of the scope of the Better Life Index (see OECD 2011a). Within the domains are the following eleven themes:
Figure 5.5:The ‘How’s Life?’ framework for measuring well-being and progress (OECD 2011b: 19).
The Oxfam Humankind Index, Scotland – 2012
‘A stable network of supportive, caring, loving relationships to encourage, console, enthuse and otherwise support people through...life and living [sic.] it to the full.’ Participant response – Oxfam Scotland (2012: 8).
‘The environment’s important to me, it makes me happy. It affects my mental health, it’s inspirational, it supports my income and my family’s income.’ Participant response – Oxfam Scotland (2012: 8).
The Oxfam Humankind Index aims to assess Scotland’s prosperity through a holistic and representative measure of progress, taking into account what really matters to the people of Scotland (see Oxfam Scotland 2012). Like the ABS, Oxfam Scotland has undertaken a consultation with the public to develop the index. Their aim is for policy makers and the community to use the index to make informed decisions based on the aspirations of the people of Scotland – whether they relate to their own well-being, the economy, governance or the environment. The index is organised into the following sub-domains:
Measuring National Wellbeing, United Kingdom – in development
‘People’s economic well-being is determined by their wealth as well as their income.’ – Office of National Statistics (2011: 18).
‘Having family around brings esteem, value, hope and love.’ Participant response – Office of National Statistics (2011: 21).
In 2010, British Prime Minister David Cameron asked the Office of National Statistics (ONS) to measure national well-being as a basis for new policy. As a result, the ONS has developed the ‘Measuring national well-being’ initiative, aimed at capturing well-being, the performance of the economy and the quality of the environment (see Office of National Statistics 2011).The ONS has been undertaking a similar consultation process to MAP. This has involved consultation with experts and a ‘national debate’ which aimed to gather the views of what really matters most for national progress to the people of the United Kingdom. The ONS has proposed the following ten key themes or ‘domains’ for measuring progress, which have been used as tools for discussion through the consultation.
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