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Global Social Progress Index


Wednesday, 1st May 2013 at 10:26 am
Staff Reporter
An new global index that rates a country’s efforts to improve the well-being of its people has placed Australia 7th overall but has dropped Australia to the bottom of the index in its ecosystem sustainability ranking.

Wednesday, 1st May 2013
at 10:26 am
Staff Reporter


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Global Social Progress Index
Wednesday, 1st May 2013 at 10:26 am

An new global index that rates a country’s efforts to improve the well-being of its people has placed Australia 7th overall but has dropped Australia to the bottom of the index in its ecosystem sustainability ranking.

The Social Progress Index, released at the Skoll World Forum, ranked 50 countries by their social and environmental performance, with Sweden taking top spot overall and Australia coming in at number seven.

In the ecosystem sustainability ranking, Australia ranked 46th out of 50 countries followed Canada and the US. The land-locked war-torn African nation of Rwanda however topped the ranking ecosystem sustainability.

Designed by The Social Progress Imperative and Professor Michael Porter (co-founder of the Creation of Shared Value concept), the report is in collaboration with economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and leading international organisations in social entrepreneurship, business, philanthropy, and academia.

“Economic development is necessary but not sufficient for social progress. A country’s overall level of development masks social and environmental strengths and challenges. At a disaggregated level, the social progress index shows areas of underperformance and success for countries at all income levels,” the report said.

The Social Progress Index says it is distinctive for being based entirely on social and environmental measures covering basic human needs, foundations of well-being and opportunity. The Index shows where nations should focus their efforts to improve the well-being of their people and says it uses a rigorous statistical technique and the best available data from internationally recognised sources, including the World Bank and the World Health Organisation.

“Previous efforts to go beyond economic measurement alone have laid important groundwork, but we need a more holistic, comprehensive, and rigorous approach. The Social Progress Index is an attempt to address these gaps and opportunities,” Porter said.

“Social progress depends on the policy choices, investments, and implementation capabilities of multiple stakeholders – government, civil society, and business. Action needs to be catalysed at country level.

“By informing and motivating those stakeholders to work together and develop a more holistic approach to development, I am confident that social progress will accelerate.”

The 12 components of the Social Progress Index included:

  • Nutrition and Basic Medical Care
  • Air, Water and Sanitation
  • Shelter
  • Personal Safety
  • Access to Basic Knowledge
  • Access to Information and Communication
  • Health and Wellness
  • Ecosystem Sustainability
  • Personal Rights
  • Access to Higher Education
  • Personal Freedom and Choice
  • Equity and Inclusion

No countries scored in the top half for all 12 components.

Australia ranked 10th in basic human needs, 15th in foundations of well-being and 3rd in opportunity.

Some surprising take-outs of the report were:

  • Rwanda is 46th overall and 48th in terms of GDP but ranks 9th in terms of Primary School Enrollment
  • Bulgaria ranks 20th in terms of GDP out of the 50 measured countries but ranks 3rd in Air, Water, and Sanitation
  • The United States (which spends the most per capita on healthcare globally) ranks just 11th in terms of Health and Wellness

View the full report here.



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