Monitoring sustainable quality of life

Monitoring achievement of life quality indicators
Traditional economically orientated indicators of human development do not accurately portray a nations true "development" level by ignoring other values such as human rights, education, health, and the environment. There is agreement that sustainable development notions should be incorporated into the measurement of quality of life and development, since sustainable development harmonizes the needs for long-term human development in the broadest sense, and environmental protection. A number of organizations are working to develop practical ways to measure sustainable development or its components.
Since the first UNDP [Human Development Report] in 1990, the measure of a country's wealth is no longer just its gross national or domestic product. Instead, countries are ranked by the UNDP's human development index (HDI) which takes into account three components, knowledge (adult literacy and mean years of schooling), longevity (life expectancy at birth), and income (per capita GNP adjusted for real purchasing power). On these criteria, the three highest ranked countries in the 1994 report are Canada, Switzerland and Japan. Many other measures of human development could be included in HDI, such as political freedom, guaranteed human rights and self-respect. Since 1990, UNDP has refined its basic HDI to show differential levels of human development between regional populations, racial groups, women and men, and low and high income groups, and is currently researching ways in which to incorporate an environmental dimension into the model. UNDP presented the first results of this research in the 1994 Human Development Report.

The UK-based Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment's (CSERGE) Sustainability Index is more encompassing than the HDI, since both a human and environmental component are combined into a single measure. It is statistically less developed, however, and also gives greater weight to economic measures of development. The Sustainability Index is based on four measures: the ratio of financial savings to income, man-made capital (buildings [etc]), human capital (knowledge and skills), and natural capital (the stock of resources and natural services). There are two distinct measures based on this model, weak sustainability and strong sustainability. The latter is statistically simpler since it denies the possibility for non-environmental growth substituting for environmental growth. Hence, sustainability level will always decrease if natural capital decreases.

UNICEF has produced a report that ranks the nations of the world according their their achievements in child health, nutrition, education, family planning and progress for women. In each of these areas, the international community has set specific goals, to be reached by 1995 and the year 2000. These targets, which reflect today's new capacity to meet minimum human needs, have inspired the formal commitment of 157 governments. [The Progress of Nations] keeps yearly track of the action and achievements in the fulfilment of these commitments. It is hoped that as the monitoring of social development gathers pace, it will become more sensitive to inequality, focusing more and more on those who are being excluded -- identifying who they are, where they are, and why they are marginalized. In this way the report states that "social monitoring can also serve one of the greatest tasks of social development -- the task of reaching out to the unreached and the unserved, to the illiterate and the unconfident, to the socially and culturally discriminated against, to the poorest and the most disadvantage, to the girls and women".

The day will come when the progress of nations will be judged not by their military or economic strength, nor by the splendour of their capital cities and public buildings, but by the well-being of their peoples: by their levels of health, nutrition and education; by their opportunities to earn a fair regard for their labours; by their ability to participate in the decisions that affect their lives; by the provision that is made for those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged; and by the protection that is afforded to the growing minds and bodies of their children.
Type Classification:
F: Exceptional strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 14: Life Below WaterGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal