Mainstreaming wellbeing and sustainability in policymaking

Technical and governance levers out of the institutional GDP lock-in

Despite broad support, there has been limited progress in mainstreaming wellbeing and sustainability considerations in policymaking.

One reason for this is the dominance of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the main measure of economic performance. This has prevented the integration of wellbeing and sustainability metrics into economic policy and governance mechanisms.

This report examines the institutional ‘GDP lock-in’ which is limiting the political uptake of wellbeing and sustainability metrics in contemporary EU policymaking. It details the reinforcing mechanisms between political governance decisions and priorities in statistical measurement and data collection which have created this lock-in (see visual).

Understanding this lock-in perspective helps to identify possible pathways to increase the political uptake of wellbeing and sustainability metrics in EU policymaking.

The analysis identifies levers on both the technical and governance level and formulates specfic recommendations to help overcome this institutional GDP lock-in.

  • On the technical level, we show how changing existing statistical frameworks and complementing them with wellbeing and sustainability variables can improve the quality and availability of data that underlies these metrics. Such technical-level improvements are crucial prerequisites for increasing the political uptake of these metrics.
  • On the governance level, we highlight how wellbeing and sustainability metrics can be used in governance mechanisms to more effectively align policy processes and outcomes with the goal of a socially just and green transformation. Moreover, the use of wellbeing and sustainability metrics in governance can itself facilitate improvements of the statistical and data-related qualities of these metrics.
Associated topics
Redefining Progress

Project Partner

ZOE Authors