The Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi (SSF) Commission Report raised a number of questions about GDP, including its neglect of (i) non-market and social transactions, (ii) stocks and flows of physical, natural and human capital, and (iii) broad distributional issues. The OECD-hosted High Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic and Social Progress (HLEG) has been working on developing further the recommendations of SSF. In particular the suitability of GDP, and alternatives to it, for developing countries has been a focus of the discussion. At the same time, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) process has been put in train by the UN system and has proposed a number of goals and targets as successors to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from 2015 onwards. All of this links to and feeds in to ongoing processes in developing countries to develop robust indicators of human, social and economic development.
With this background, the Government of South Africa, the OECD-hosted High Level Expert Group, Initiative for Policy Dialogue (Columbia University), Center on Global Economic Governance (Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs) the Charles S. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management (Cornell University) and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (Cornell University) are organizing a conference to bring together the best thinking and practice in going beyond GDP in the measurement of wellbeing and development in Africa. The conference is supported financially by these institutions, and by the OECD, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the International Labour Organization, the Roosevelt Institute and the Ford Foundation.
The conference organizers are South African Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel, Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, OECD Chief Statistician Martine Durand and Cornell Professor of World Affairs Ravi Kanbur.
The focus of the conference will be on conceptual frameworks and on statistical systems for measuring human, social and economic development, and on tracking the evolution of multidimensional inequality and wellbeing. The agenda is structured around eight 90 minute sessions. The participants will be leading analysts and practitioners to facilitate a discussion between methods and frameworks on the one hand and the practicalities of implementation and monitoring on the other.