Session 3 - Implementing a well-being approach to policy and international partnerships in Latin America, 28-30 June 2022
Date : Jul 01, 2022
Session 3: Exploring the potential of well-being metrics for supporting new international partnerships
The COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts and emerging international agendas are increasingly aligning actions towards facing global shared challenges, such as climate change, digital transformations or global health preparedness. This follows the blunt pandemic reminder of how interconnected national and international policies are. Not only can countries not face global challenges alone, but also an increasing number of these challenges are influencing the capacity of countries to pursue their own development paths. The pandemic reminded us of the notions of development as a multi-dimensional and continuous process, that can be reversed any time, and of the pressing need to be prepared for future shocks. The pandemic also reminded the world of the stark vulnerabilities existing within countries regardless of income level, such as weaknesses in health infrastructure, supply chains or economic systems, or to the environmental fragility of our planet. It stressed the strong interlinkages across people, planet and the economy, and called for collective solutions to global problems.
This new context presents an opportunity for broadening the range of metrics for informing transformative global partnerships. The global community needs to ensure that new partnerships and efforts focus on well-being, and that multidimensional and people-focused approaches prevail when assessing developments. For decades, metrics like GDP and Gross National Income (GNI) have acted as proxies for countries’ development levels. Moving beyond GDP to better capture countries’ well-being is a long-standing and ongoing debate. Since the very establishment of GDP as an indicator by American economist Simon Kuznets in 1937, its abilities have been questioned. Latin America is a clear example, as ECLAC estimates that the region’s GDP declined by 6.8% in 2020, its worst economic contraction in more than a century and the deepest of any region in the developing world. However, the lack of a clear relationship between per capita GDP and the impacts of COVID-19 in different countries of all income levels was observed, highlighting the importance of a broader range of factors requiring consideration when gauging countries’ multidimensional capacity.
Despite the criticisms, GDP is the predominant indicator to assess countries’ development and guide multilateral and bilateral actions. Several alternative indices and frameworks have been proposed over the years, but their use largely remains marginal. While the world acknowledges that we are far from achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda, we cannot abandon reflection on how best to improve measurement for informing new partnerships and engagement across countries in key transformative agendas. Latin American and the Caribbean can be an example of how to rethink indicators for supporting the mobilisation of resources, institutional strengthening, capacity building, and knowledge exchange for more effective collective action on shared global challenges.
This session presented some of the alternatives for using people-centered measures in informing new global partnerships, addressing some of the following key questions:
- It is increasingly being recognised that the relationship between economic growth and inclusive and sustainable development is more complex than can be captured in macro-economic indicators alone, and that a broader information set is needed to provide a fuller picture. What are the existing alternative measurement options for informing international co-operation in LAC? What are the barriers to their use?
- What are the existing alternative indicators and metrics existing at the global level for measuring development outcomes? How are they serving to describe the current increasing challenging world of multiple vulnerabilities? Are people-centered approaches at the core of these new metrics?
- How feasible is to have a composite indicator or shared set of indicators for measuring engagement at the country level on global shared challenges? What would be the advantages and disadvantages? What would be a roadmap for implementation/use of such an indicator or indicators?