Governments can set bold targets for social and environmental progress, and adopt new measures to track how well the economy is delivering them.
Many policies are geared toward growing GDP without sufficient regard to the quality of the growth achieved. Such a limited strategy can be counterproductive in terms of meeting social and environmental goals. Governments should consider how well they are served by GDP, and whether their goals and strategies may have been distorted as a result of its ubiquitous application. New metrics that integrate changes in social and natural capital alongside economic output provide a more rounded view of economic progress.
Measurement is only one part of this story, the other being the targets that governments set on the basis of the metrics they agree. Clear, measurable commitments from governments are essential in areas such as binding carbon emissions targets, achieving or surpassing zero net waste, and rules and incentives to achieve zero net deforestation, integrated with goals relating to skills, employment and living standards.
Without clear targets, backed up by integrated measurements, legal mandates and political commitment, then other government actions – for example social and environmental policies – will continue to work against the grain of the economy rather than through it, producing mixed messages for business.
New metrics that integrate changes in social and natural capital alongside economic output provide a more rounded view of economic progress.