Reposted from the Guardian.
In a breakthrough for campaigners seeking a more holistic approach to measuring the health of nations, the European Commission has committed to integrating social and environmental considerations into the heart of its economic decision making.
The EC’s director general of regional and urban policy, Walter Deffaa, has agreed to use the Social Progress Index (SPI), which enables countries to evaluate how effectively they translate economic success into social progress, as a key tool in deciding how to allocate €63.4bn to deprived regions in the European Union.
Focusing on GDP growth fails to account for the value of nature
The index uses 52 indicators ranging from healthcare and housing to ecosystem sustainability and freedom from discrimination.
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An EC spokesman said: “Going beyond GDP is a longstanding interest of the Commission services. Through this work we hope to understand where GDP is a poor proxy for a region’s quality of life or its social progress.”
While it is no easy task to create an SPI for all 272 regions in 28 European countries, the EC says the ability for different countries to share knowledge on socially innovative policies “was identified as a key demand arising from policymakers”.
Harvard professor Michael Porter, the creator of the concept of shared value, created the index in 2013, arguing it made no sense to be measuring success purely on the idea of growth at a time when countries are facing massive social upheavals.
Rather than seeking to integrate wellbeing and happiness into the economic agenda, the SPI looks only at social and environmental considerations and therefore gives them authority in their own right, enabling them to be compared and contrasted with traditional economic measures.