The Trials and Tribulations of Measuring Sustainable Development

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Today’s meeting featured panelists that debated on the best way to measure sustainable development. While there is a general consensus that GDP per capita is an inadequate measure of the complex nature of development, the consensus on what alternatives should be undertaken have been anything but consistent.

Mr. Riecken, representative of Austria, stressed the common grounds that must be reflected in the final phase the global agenda regarding monitoring procedure. The common grounds in which he emphasized most was the need to ensure monitoring takes place at the highest level of engagement without adding additional burden on member states due to too many reporting requirements. Mr. Mira, OECD Statistics Directorate, then gave an in-depth PowerPoint presentation on the Better Life Initiative, which includes a communication tool, the Better Life Index. This initiative is “an attempt to produce an internationally comparable gauge of well-being for member and partner countries of the organization.” Following, Mr. Koncke, representative of Uruguay, stated that the measurement of poverty is multidimensional. More importantly, out of the 169 targets that define the 17 SDGs, nearly one-third of them would be substantially altered by indicators that either measure that target only partially or not at all. He resolved that national statistics institutions should gain more power within government agencies so that they have easier access to resources.

Mr. Smrz, representative of the Czech Republic, closed the discussion by giving an overview on the development measurement methods used in his country. With the past perception of sustainable development being solely environmental oriented within his country, he commends the OECD on creating a system that his simplified, understandable, and visual. Mr. Smrz hopes to see the adoption of a measurement policy that combines the current methods and the new methods of the Better Life Initiative.

Meeting: Measuring Sustainable Development: What lessons can the Better Life Initiative provide for the post-2015 agenda?
Date & Location:  10 June 2015; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room E, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers: Mr. Andreas Riecken, Charge d’Affaires, Permanent Mission of Austria to the UN; Mr. Marco Mira d’Ercole, Head of Household Statistics and Progress Measurement Division, OECD Statistics Directorate; H.E. Gonzalo Koncke, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the UN; Mr. Vladislav Smrz, Director for Environmental Policy and International Affairs, Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic
Written By WIT Representative: Melissa Chan
Edited By WIT Representative: Parth Shingala

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