The global movement to redefine progress
Over the past ten years or so, a new global movement has emerged to produce measures of societal progress that go beyond GDP. This movement is being driven by citizens, policymakers, academics and statisticians working together globally and locally and championed by international organisations like the OECD and the United Nations.
Global Project on "Measuring the Progress of Societies"
Hosted at the OECD and run in collaboration with numerous international partners, “The Global Project” is fostering the development of key economic social and environmental indicators to provide a comprehensive picture of how the well-being of a society is evolving. It is also seeking to encourage the use of indicators to inform and promote evidence-based decision-making, within and across the public, private and citizen sectors.
State of the USA
Initiated in 2007, the community based State of the USA has developed a Key National Indicator system (KNIS) which in 2010 was established by legislation as an independent national reporting system. It has evolved with the support of government at all levels, business, media, not-for-profit and academic sectors and most importantly, the influential US
Government Accountability Office.
The KNIS was developed through an open and inclusive approach via a broad consultation process. The value of the tool will be to provide data from a single source portal that is free and usable. It will present the highest quality measures and data on the nation’s progress. The aim is to broaden the factual knowledge and understanding about the nation’s most pressing issues. The users are expected to be individuals, institutions, partners and other stakeholders. The data collected will also be used to aid international benchmarking.
After being established as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organisation, KNIS’s early funding sources were philanthropic. It has now received a commitment of government funding, as the results of the index will be provided as a public good. Subject to Congress appropriation, KNIS will receive US$10 million in start-up funding, and US$7.5 million per annum thereafter.
In 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy sought a detailed investigation into the measurement of quality of life from the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. This study, led by eminent global economists, concluded that the time was right to go beyond simply measuring economic production to measuring people’s
wellbeing, with the focus on achieving sustainable wellbeing. The report pushed for measurement of wellbeing across multiple domains. The report suggested considering living standards, health, personal activities including work, political voice and governance, social connections and relationships, environment (present and future), levels of economic insecurity and personal safety.
This report has led to further development at the national level across Europe, has lent weight to the global wellbeing measurement movement and promoted discussion about wellbeing between governments and citizens across Europe.
The Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW)
Canada has worked over the past decade to develop a wellbeing index for the nation following several nationwide rounds of consultation. The signature product of CIW to be released in 2011 is a single number index (composite index) to represent the nation’s wellbeing status — a combination of the results of eight CIW dimensions to demonstrate at a glance whether the overall quality of life of Canadians is getting better or worse. CIW periodically releases research reports for various dimensions of wellbeing and prepares special reports into particular findings related to the data collected.
The independent and bi-partisan Institute of Wellbeing now manages six funding partners who support the CIW. These partners are from philanthropic and government sectors. While the CIW monitors and defines the quality of life of Canadians through data measures, it also seeks to promote dialogue with the community on the direction of the country’s progress. The index is rooted in national values and has evolved from the grassroots level. It has drawn together eminent people to contribute to its evolution.
The Canadian Index of Wellbeing has developed domains which measure progress in the areas of: arts, culture and recreation, civic engagement, community vitality, education, environment, healthy population, living standards, and time use.
Measures of Australia’s Progress (MAP)
The ABS was the first national statistics office in the world to develop an integrated set of national progress measures and this project itself became one of the main inspirations for the OECD's global project.
Produced regularly since 2002 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, MAP presents a range of measures capturing the health of individuals, society and the environment, as well as the economy. MAP presents 17 headline indicators across these domains with extensive supplementary indicators and contextual information provided at lower levels of the online
ANDI will work closely with the ABS drawing on some of MAP’s key data and measurement frameworks. By exploring the use of an Index, ANDI will complement the MAP dashboard approach (below) as well as promoting community conversation that will feed into the 2011 ABS public consultation on future directions for MAP.