Measuring wellbeing, like happiness, is complicated.
But in the spirit of Alex Steffan’s “dark grey paint,” the people who say it can’t be done should get out of the way of people who are doing it.
The Australian government stepped up and announced the first nationwide benchmarking Sustainability report on May 9. The report canvasses trends in environment, society, economy and collective wellbeing.
What I like about it is that the authors don’t shy away from measuring the hard stuff. They shine light on ideas that usually go unreported in balance sheets and State of the Union addresses. Ideas like wellbeing and the health of natural ecosystems often slip through the cracks of conveniently concrete numbers and census choices.
And can I tell you how much I love that Australia has a Sustainability Minister? His whole job is to make sure the country thrives today while planning for future generations to have the same chance.
Sustainability Minister Tony Burke said the 264-page tome offered a comprehensive set of indicators that could give “a sense of how we were doing, generation to generation”.
The government-funded report does not make specific recommendations but examines trends in Australia’s environment, society, economy and collective wellbeing.
Mr Burke said he hoped the biannual report would come to be treated much like job growth or GDP figures.
“One of the things we were determined to make sure of was that we would eventually get to the point where people would follow sustainability indicators as closely as they would follow economic indicators,” he told the launch.
When you start to find ways to measure more things that matter, the result is a richer, more nuanced picture of what you have in front of you. From there, you can make it better.