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Frequently Asked Questions About Progress
Why do we need to measure progress?
Interest in whether life is getting better and we are moving towards – or away from - a better society/life is by no means recent. Indicators such as GDP have been used by some as a proxy for this over the last 70 years, but there is an increasing interest in developing a broader set of progress indicators that capture a more rounded picture of progress. Sound and reliable progress measures provide a shared information set and a foundation for democratic debate. What we chose to measure as a society reflects what we feel is important and will affect policy agendas. So progress measures are important.
Is it possible to measure progress?
Measuring Progress is possible, and it is already happening. Of course, to measure progress one needs to know what progress looks like. And there is no single answer: progress means different things to different societies and spans different aspects of life – social, environmental and economic. But many societies are now designing sets of progress measures that are objective and/or subjective to help citizens assess whether or not life is getting better. The Measures of Australia’s Progress is a good example among many existing initiatives on measuring progress.
Why is important for developing countries to Measure Progress?
African societies, like any other societies indeed, have to measure progress. But more importantly they have to define what is meant by progress. They have to hold a dialogue in a way that has not been done before” Pali Lehohla (Director General of Statistics South Africa).
Although the OECD is an organization whose members are developed countries, the Global Project is working with countries at every level on the development spectrum. Discussions about progress are not just a luxury for the rich. They are equally important – perhaps more so – in poorer countries which are looking to “develop”. Because “development” is not well defined and is sometimes seen as synonymous with simply growing GDP or becoming “more like the West”. As countries develop it is important that they develop a solid understanding of what development means – or ought to mean - for that society. Then and only then can they decide which aspects of life should be improved and which aspects should be protected, and appropriate measures set up to track progress.
Is this Wikiprogress about a common set of progress measures for the world?
No. Wikiprogress's main aim is to foster the development of different sets of key economic, social and environmental indicators to provide a comprehensive picture of how the well-being of different societies is evolving. It also seeks to encourage the use of indicator sets to inform and promote evidence-based decision making, within and across the public, private and citizen sectors.
What is the Istanbul Declaration?
In June 2007, the OECD in collaboration with other international organizations, ran the 2nd World Forum in Istanbul on “Measuring the Progress of Societies”.
The conference led to the Istanbul Declaration, signed by the European Commission, the Organisation of the Islamic Countries, the OECD, the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme, UNICEF, UNESCO, the United Nations Fund for Partnership, the World Bank, and several other organizations. The declaration, which calls for action to identify what “progress” means in the 21st century and to stimulate international debate, based on solid statistical data and indicators, on both global issues of societal progress and how societies compare.
Does Wikiprogress aim to measure happiness?
Wikiprogress seeks to foster and measure progress in different dimensions of progress. Some believe that objective indicators are key to this process. But some people believe that, just as important as knowing whether these objective aspects of society are improving, is knowing whether people actually feel their well-being has improved, that is whether people are happier or more content. Although measuring subjective well-being is recognized as challenging it is the subject of increasing attention by many experts.
Wikiprogress is not aiming at providing a global single definition of progress, but hopes to measure and foster progress as defined by each individual society. Thus, if a society includes happiness as a dimension in their framework of progress, our goal is to provide that society with knowledge about the strengths and weaknesses of different ways to measure it.
What is the Global Project on Measuring the Progress of Societies?
The Global Project on Measuring the Progress of Societies is an OECD initiative that exists to foster the development of sets of key economic, social and environmental indicators to provide a comprehensive picture of how the well-being of a society is evolving. It also seeks to encourage the use of indicator sets to inform and promote evidence-based decision-making, within and across the public, private and citizen sectors. The project is open to all sectors of society, building both on good practice and innovative research work. Initiatives to measure progress are happening all over the world. The Global Project, hosted by the OECD, is a “network of networks”, that seeks to better co-ordinate work in this area, provide a forum for discussion and develop best practice around understanding what progress looks like in different countries, how to develop the statistical indicators to measure it and how to ensure those measures are used and understood by a broad audience.