Keeping up to date with Beyond GDP – regional indicators in Europe

In March 2016, the United Nations will finalise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) global indicator framework. In addition to this high-level global initiative, there are many ongoing efforts to develop local and regional data using multiple indicators. Several EU Member States have developed or are developing new initiatives to provide alternative and complimentary indicators to GDP. These include both regional level frameworks that provide sub-regional data, and those that cover regions across Europe.

For example, the Belgian region of Wallonia has introduced five measures to support regional and local policy evaluation. One of which, the “Indice des conditions de bien-être” (ICBE), includes 60 indicators and covers the 262 Walloon communes to inform decision makers on the state of public well-being.

At the EU level, the European Commission’s DG for Regional Policy and its Joint Research Centre are currently exploring the application of the Social Progress Index to provide disaggregated data across the 272 regions of the 28 Member States. A beta version of the European Regional Social Progress Index was released last week.

At the 116th Plenary Session of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) on 11 February, President of the Italian Umbria Region Catiuscia Marini presented a draft opinion on “Indicators for Territorial Development – GDP and Beyond”. She stressed the relevance of Beyond GDP indicators for overcoming disparities in poorer regions of the EU (e.g. relating to employment or access to clean water), but also for providing more advanced regions with a means to attract innovation and investment. Augusto Rolladin, President of the Autonomous Region of Valle D’Aosta, supported this by arguing that GDP per capita is poor at capturing the diverse and complex needs of his mountainous constituency.

IEEP tracks the European and global use of alternative indicators that provide more complete measures of economic and social progress than GDP. Our Beyond GDP work started in 2007 when we supported the high-level international conference “Beyond GDP – Measuring progress, true wealth, and the well-being of nations”. IEEP continues to engage in exploring how alternative progress indicators can contribute to better policy making. Our work includes providing support to the European Commission’s Beyond GDP Initiative, including helping its website and newsletter to remain Europe’s most up to date platform on alternative progress indicators.

To follow our work in this area, sign up to the Beyond GDP newsletter or visit the Beyond GDP news page. For more information on IEEP’s work on Beyond GDP indicators, please contact Konar Mutafoglu and Jean-Pierre Schweitzer.