Well-being agenda: does this spell the end for GDP?

Well-being agenda: does this spell the end for GDP?
Copyright AP
By Joao Vitor Da Silva Marques
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Iceland, Scotland and New Zealand leaders team up on social priorities


The Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrin Jakobsdottir is urging other governments to adopt a new green, family-friendly way of measuring their countries' wealth. And his nation is leading the way.

Jakobsdottir has teamed up with Scotland's Nicola Sturgeon and New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern to promote what they've dubbed 'the well-being agenda.' It's meant to put social measurements like health and happiness ahead of traditional GDP figures in importance, when it comes to federal budgets. The concept is an attempt to build a more modern society by tackling big issues like climate change, inequality and access to digital services.

Scotland has already implemented something similar to this. It is called the National Performance Framework.

Allister McGregor is a professor of Political Economy at the University of Sheffield in the UK. He explains how the new agenda is necessary in today’s world: “It is quite easy to say that you’ll going to have a well-being agenda, a well-being budget. The real challenge is to move it down to make changes in how we govern and how we do policy.

In news bulletins we often hear how much our economy is growing or not growing. Then in other news bulletins we get something like about environmental degradation and sustainability, something about inequality. The measure of GDP doesn’t deal with the destruction of the environment, by the way the economy is working. It doesn’t deal with the massive and growing inequalities that is destroying our societies.”

The idea is for politicians and policy makers to be more aware of the problems facing them and act on them. GDP is a much needed measurement which helps on the understanding of a population life standards and McGregor thinks a well-balanced approach is necessary but he warns: “Some economic growth can be harmful to human beings, it may worsen inequality and may cause environmental damage that our children are going to live with in the future.”

Watch the full report in the player above.

Journalist • Joao Vitor Da Silva Marques

Video editor • Joao Vitor Da Silva Marques

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