Global Solidarity Accountability: Values for Well-being
Fifth Event of the 27th Annual Conference
of the International Environment Forum
Implementing Solidarity – Global to Local
21 September 2023
Event in collaboration with ebbf-Ethical Business Building the Future
As a contribution to the discourse on ways of measuring progress beyond GDP, ebbf-Ethical Business Building the Future and the International Environment Forum have led a project to explore dimensions of well-being that could be measured in non-financial ways. These include the environmental dimensions of energy and climate change, biodiversity, and pollution and waste; basic human needs to eliminate poverty, provide adequate food, and ensure good health; and social dimensions including work and service, knowledge and education, and ethical and spiritual values. The results can be useful both to contribute to the beyond GDP discourse at the UN Summit of the Future in 2024, and for community conversations to read the local reality and undertake social actions. This event included a panel discussing lessons learned in the project, case studies of applications to discourse and social action in local communities, and open consultation on ways going forward.
View a video recording of the event here.
TOPICS AND PANELISTS:
Overview of the Global Solidarity Accounting Project
Presented by Dr. Arthur Dahl, President of the International Environment Forum, and a retired senior official of UNEP, with extensive experience in the development of indicators of sustainability and values-based indicators. He originated the GSA project, and lives in Geneva, Switzerland.
The environment continues to degrade through failures in political will for implementation, requiring new approaches to accountability. There have been many calls for measures of progress beyond GDP, which measures the flow of money, profit and return on investment based on materialistic assumptions, not well-being, ethics, morality or spirituality, and thus encourages selfishness and greed. We need to value people and the planet, redefining notions of progress, civilisation and development. There are an increasing number of international and national efforts to develop indicators of well-being beyond GDP. IEF and ebbf have developed a new concept of global solidarity accounts relevant to human and natural well-being, using relevant science-based non-financial units of account. Nine initial indicator forms of capital are identified to respect both the planetary environmental boundaries of the global commons and the minimum social and economic standards for the common wellbeing of all humanity. These include:
- Environmental accounts: Carbon (energy), biodiversity, pollution
- Individual basic needs accounts(eliminating poverty): minimum needs for shelter, security, water and sanitation, energy; food; health
- Social accounts: work/employment; knowledge and education; spiritual capital and values
This conceptual framework for human and environmental well-being can help individuals, communities, governments, businesses and other institutions, and global inequality. The approach scaled down to the community level can encourage conversations on global solidarity for sustainability, as the following case studies demonstrate.
View or download Dahl's presentation (pdf) or download ppt
Environmental Aspects of Global Solidarity Accountability
Presented by Dr. Laurent Mesbah, from Sarajevo, is an international consultant on sustainable development, teaches in various university programmes, and is a governing board member of the International Environment Forum.
Global human solidarity is very dependent on the planet on which we all live. We need to consider how resources and services provided by planet Earth with all its various ecosystems and diversity of life can serve all of humankind for these and generations to come.
View or download Mesbah's presentation (pdf) or download pptx
Community Conversations for Global Solidarity - Sara DeHoff
As we explored ways of measuring progress beyond GDP, it became increasingly clear that there was tremendous potential for action at the grassroots. How do we generate a discussion at the neighborhood level to explore these various dimensions of well-being? How do we inspire neighbors to work together and take action to steward their collective wealth?
View or download DeHoff's presentation (pdf)
Ontario Social Action project - Nola Marion, Canada
This initiative started in rural Ontario by examining how we could invite people to gather, assess their reality, engage in elevated conversations and ultimately determine actions that would benefit their community. A methodology was established to stimulate consultation; it was practiced within our group and shared within ‘safe’ spaces. It became clear that 2 issues were resonating with people - housing and food insecurity. We discovered initiatives already happening around these issues and decided to join our efforts with like-minded groups.
View or download Marion's presentation (pdf)
Community consultations on well-being in Champel, Geneva - Victoria Visser, Switzerland
Victoria Visser and Danièle Bianchi started activities around the subject of ‘wellbeing’ in Champel, Switzerland, that bring together people in their neighborhood on a variety of topics related to sustainable development and wellbeing. The joy of learning from each other and doing things together is building bridges, enhancing tolerance, understanding and an overall spiritual attitude towards life.
View or download Visser's presentation (pdf) or download pptx
Well-being as Wealth in the Eindhoven Region - Jan de Jongh, the Netherlands
Early this year a “study/action circle” was started in Eindhoven. The intention was to introduce the concept of Well-being as Wealth and to learn how to read reality in our own broad communities, which hopefully will lead to contribution to discourse and social action. One of the group members already initiated a local social action project. She started a Well-being Group in the tall living tower where she lives with about 250 people with the aim of establishing more connection among them.
View or download De Jongh's presentation (pdf)
MODERATOR: Philippe Gerling
Summary of key points from
Global Solidarity Accountability: Values for Well-being
By Nava Khorram, Latvia
As a contribution to the discourse on measuring progress beyond GDP, ebbf-Ethical Business Building the Future and the International Environment Forum led a project to explore dimensions of well-being that could be measured in non-financial ways. This included environmental aspects like energy, climate change, biodiversity, pollution, and waste; fulfilling basic human needs, such as eradicating poverty, ensuring food security, and promoting good health; and social dimensions encompassing work, knowledge, education, and ethical values. The results have been valuable and can significantly contribute to the beyond GDP discourse at the UN Summit of the Future in 2024, and can also assist in supporting local communities in understanding their realities and taking social action.
During the sharing of case studies on economic, environmental, and social well-being from Canada, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, several valuable insights emerged. These insights emphasized the power of learning from one another and engaging in collaborative endeavors as a means of fostering social connections, increasing tolerance, deepening understanding, and cultivating a more profound spiritual perspective on life.
In the Canadian context, the leaders of the case study demonstrated a commitment to elevating conversations surrounding human and environmental well-being. They achieved this through engaging with family members, friends, visiting households, and convening community meetings. This approach proved instrumental in raising awareness and encouraging dialogue about key well-being concerns.
One noteworthy aspect that surfaced across these case studies was the importance of ensuring participation. Some panelists shared their experiences using questionnaires and similar tools to enable communities to identify the most pertinent issues affecting their well-being. This practice highlighted the resonance of the well-being question with individuals, making it an effective starting point for discussions, regardless of whether the focus was on economic, environmental, or social well-being.
Additionally, a recurring theme emerged regarding the significance of nurturing a hopeful vision and its profound impact on people. Recognizing the importance of inspiring hope and harnessing it as a catalyst for action and engagement in meaningful discourse proved essential to fostering positive change and mobilizing individuals to take proactive steps.