The 2014 Sustainable Economic Development Assessment

The 2014 Sustainable Economic Development Assessment

          
Article image

The 2014 Sustainable Economic Development Assessment

Building Well-Being into National Strategies
  • Add To Interests
  • SAVE CONTENT
  • PRINT
  • PDF

  • In 2012, we launched our Sustainable Economic Development Assessment (SEDA) as a diagnostic tool aimed at helping countries to sharpen their focus on the well-being (that is, the overall standard of living) of their citizens in shaping their national strategies. The driving force behind SEDA was the understanding that economic growth, while a necessary component of the goals of national leaders, should not be the sole driver of policymaking decisions. We defined well-being through ten dimensions—including governance, health, and economic stability—and posited that an in-depth assessment of well-being would provide useful insights into a country’s economic and social conditions and serve to guide its strategies.

    Since SEDA’s launch, we have used it in our work with governments in more than two dozen countries on six continents—countries with broad disparities in population, wealth, and economic growth—as well as with development organizations and private-sector companies. The reaction to SEDA and the ways in which it has been used since its introduction have convinced us that it is a valuable tool that meets a real need. Our work has helped us understand where the insights from SEDA are particularly powerful and how that knowledge can be used to develop national strategies.

    Government leaders have been particularly interested, for example, in examining how their countries are performing when it comes to converting wealth and growth into improved well-being and how they can learn from peers who may be doing this with greater success. A key SEDA finding: success in fostering well-being is not limited to wealthy nations or to those that are growing most rapidly. Nevertheless, our analysis reveals some similarities among countries growing at a similar pace in terms of what drives their improvement in well-being. To assess this dynamic in more detail, we zeroed in on three countries—China, Turkey, and Mexico—that represent the spectrum of GDP growth. Applying our approach to these three countries illustrates the opportunities and challenges that are present at varying levels of economic growth.

    Our work with governments has made clear that as their citizens become better informed and connected, so does their own recognition of the importance of focusing not just on economic growth but also on well-being. But introducing well-being into the policy discussion is not enough. What is required is the integration of well-being into national strategies and policymaking. Therefore, it is necessary to understand what efforts to integrate well-being into national strategies look like in practice. So we examined four countries that have incorporated well-being into their strategic thinking in different ways. Two of these countries have been putting well-being at the center of their strategies for years: Norway, while lacking an explicit well-being strategy, has focused on raising living standards (an approach that has proven highly effective); Bhutan has explicitly focused on well-being and employed concrete metrics to assess its progress. In addition, we studied two countries that have more recently started to focus on well-being: Malaysia and the United Kingdom.

  • Add To Interests
  • SAVE CONTENT
  • PRINT
  • PDF