The well-being of people and the planet goes beyond GDP growth
Over 50 years ago, Robert Kennedy proclaimed that GDP “measures everything … except what makes life worth”. Economic success is not all about low unemployment, low inflation, low taxes and strong economic growth.
The finance minister said one of the goals of the 2022 budget would be to focus on the environment and “livability”. A maxim of good management practice is that what can be measured can be managed. So far, the metrics that contribute to people’s quality of life are viewed as secondary by economists and politicians.
This must change. The pandemic has left a devastating effect on the world. The positive side of this trauma is that the mindsets of many world leaders are shifting and priorities are being reset.
Over the past 50 years, there have been various attempts to introduce new metrics to measure things that are generally considered essential for a good quality of life.
Some economists and social reformers have suggested alternatives for measuring economic success, including the Human Development Index, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Real Progress Indicator, the Ecological Footprint, the Happy Planet Index, savings. adjusted net and overall wealth. Yet politicians and the media continue to speak of GDP growth as the gold standard of success. As a result, there is a dominant narrative in society that “growth is good”.
The Club of Rome is a global think tank of 100 full members chosen from current and former heads of state and government, UN administrators, high-level politicians and government officials, diplomats, scientists, economists and business leaders around the world. Last week they released a position paper urging the European Commission “to take the lead in designing new policies that go beyond a rigid focus on GDP growth, towards a focus on well-being. people and the planet ”.
Political declarations abound on the vital importance of the well-being of society. The European Commission’s strategic foresight dashboards and the European Green Deal report describe the political anchor points for the renewal of Europe’s social and economic model. What is missing is action on the ground to make this change in how we define success to happen.
This strategy of change will only succeed if it succeeds in reforming the societal discourse on economic success. It is not only politicians who should act as catalysts to bring about this change. The media also play a crucial role in spreading the “growth is good” economic discourse.
International institutions such as the United Nations and the European Commission must develop globally harmonized statistics and policy tools that will help the media and the general public transform their belief in economic success into a discourse that values the good. be, sustainability and equity.
Budget 2022 should provide concrete proof that the finance minister’s promise to prioritize quality of life goals goes beyond political rhetoric. Various global surveys confirm that today’s youth are concerned about environmental degradation and growing inequalities. It is the responsibility of societal leaders to give hope to the younger generations who fear inheriting a world made worse by the current unsustainable economic policies that have harmed the planet.
Ultimately, the pillars of well-being should always be good health services, sustainable investments, fair income for work, protection of the environment and support for the most vulnerable members of our communities.
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