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A new report from the Global Solutions Initiative strongly urges G20 countries to assess wellbeing and environmental metrics alongside GDP.

The organisation is a key advisor to the G20, and it has also developed a new Recoupling Dashboard which is intended to offer a new measurement of wellbeing beyond GDP.

The report state that there is an urgent need for all nations to use the dashboard to dramatically increase their focus on social prosperity, as a key tool in the fightback against growing political extremism across advanced economies.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian to mark the launch of the report, Dennis Snower (President of Global Solutions Initiative) said: “The financial crisis of 2008 made all these issues much more salient. Lots of people are now saying ‘I’m sorry but this system sucks’.

“In addition to being materially prosperous, we need empowerment and agency – that is the ability to shape our destiny through our own efforts – and we need solidarity – that is we need to be embedded within our social circles.”

The new dashboard finds that Wellbeing Economy Government (WEGo) countries Iceland and New Zealand perform well, as does Finland. India, China and Mexico are among the worst performers, but the USA “dramatically underperforms its levels of GDP per capita”, according to the Guardian.

Its creators say that the dashboard “sheds light on the decoupling of societies and provides an empirical basis for mobilizing action in government, business and civil society to promote a recoupling of economic and social progress.”

 

Please see exclusive Guardian coverage of the report launch here

Find out more about the dashboard and report here

Tony’s Chocolonely was founded 13 years ago by journalist Teun van de Keuken. Teun was shocked to discover that much of the chocolate sold in supermarkets was made by people working in slave like conditions. When he tried to discuss the situation with chocolate makers, many declined to discuss the issue.

Teun van de Keuken, journalist and founder of Tony’s Chocolonely

Malpractices in the cacao industry drove me to set up Tony’s. Many plantations in Western Africa practice slavery and child labour even today. That’s what we want to help to prevent.
Teun van de Keuken, journalist and founder of Tony’s Chocolonely

 

Being a journalist, Teun had investigated the number of children working on cocoa farms and how many were working under illegal and dangerous conditions. This was what motivated him to create Tony’s. 

From the outset, it was clear that a mission to eradicate modern slavery from all chocolate production went way beyond measuring Tony’s direct impact.

 

Alone we make slave-free chocolate, together we make all chocolate 100% slave-free. One of the main things we’ve learnt along the way is how difficult it is to change an industry. After 11 years we’re not there yet. We’re actively seeking partners who apply our model.
Teun van de Keuken, journalist and founder of Tony’s Chocolonely

Tony’s strategy roadmap to achieve the goal of 100% slave-free chocolate consists of three pillars: 

Extract from Tony’s Chocolonely annual report 2018/2019

It is these three pillars that form the measurable impact of Tony’s Chocolonely. The company also follows the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) guidelines for sustainable reporting as well as the usual financial accounting metrics. he metrics relating to their roadmap are their clear indicators of impact and success. In their 2018/19 annual report, this meant 13 key metrics linked to the three pillars.

The newest of these metrics is linked to the third pillar and is all about the start of Tony’s Open Chain, an open source platform where chocolate companies can access the necessary knowledge and tools to improve their supply chain. 

On its own, a certification label does not enable farmers to live above the poverty line and provide a decent income for their families. The way we see it, chocolate makers are responsible for their chocolate supply chain – not the certification inspector.
Teun van de Keuken, journalist and founder of Tony’s Chocolonely

 

Tony’s Chocolonely

Critically, Tony’s recognises that it cannot do it all by itself and its business goal can only be achieved in collaboration with others. This it acknowledges in the way it reports its impact, highlighting the contribution of others.

In 2018/2019 Tony’s Chololonely expanded to 143 employees with a revenue of roughly 70 million euros. Over 53 million of this revenue came from the home market of the Netherlands, and the business is now looking into international expansion. Take a look at the latest annual report here to find out more about the size and complexity of the problem, about what is going well for the business and what still needs to be improved. 

 

  • This is an extract from the forthcoming ‘The Business of Wellbeing – Alternatives to Business as Usual’ Guide, launching in January 2020. For more extracts, please click here
  • To stay informed of the release of each extract, please sign up to our newsletter here.

If we want to contribute to value creation, health, safety, ecosystem survival and human wellbeing, it is important to include them as metrics in our balance sheet.

Martin Rich, FutureFit

The more you outsource externalities, the better you do financially in today’s system. If companies outsource all harm you never have to account / pay for it.” 
Martin Rich, Co-Founder and Executive Director at Future Fit

We need to consider our own operations and also the full supply chain and product life cycle. Only this way can we measure performance indicators in a similar way to financial performance. However, can we ever compare the value of a tree to the value of a mother in monetary terms?

James Vaccaro, Special Advisor to Triodos Bank

People want to measure everything but it is not always healthy. You can hit the target but miss the point.” 
James Vaccaro, Special Advisor at Triodos Bank

 

Rather than blindly tracking our performance towards a framework like the Sustainable Development Goals, we need a clear idea of the future scenario we want to create as part of our business purpose, a plan on the business’ contribution to this scenario and clear performance indicators on how to get there. 

We need a clear understanding of a desired future scenario that is easy to communicate. This provides us with a shared starting point so we can effectively work together on the desirable change. Frameworks like the Natural Step can help us develop such scenarios. 

Natural Step Framework

 

We then need a bold set of processes, tools and practices that help us facilitate action and a clear set of performance indicators that we can measure success on.

There is always the temptation to take off the shelf (ready-made) indicator sets, both for ease as well as comparison with other organisations. However, we would suggest first asking yourself the question: Do these indicators accurately reflect the change that your business wants to achieve?

Much time and energy is wasted collecting lots of data for tick box activities as opposed to measuring whether the change (those activities were designed to achieve) has actually happened. 

It is not the amount of training provided but what people do with that training that matters. Measuring impact should not be different from measuring key performance indicators (KPIs). A forward-looking set of KPIs should instead be the impact you want to achieve. 

In recent years, alternative return on investment methodologies have emerged to assist businesses in bringing their social and environmental impact into the balance sheet. These can be useful, but only if their limitations (valuing nature, dubious discount rates) are recognised and the data is fed back in a format that enables people to take action. Measuring for measurement’s sake is just not worth it.

Often t the story of how the impact is achieved (rather than the return on investment calculations of the impact) is the most useful information an organisation takes away from such an exercise. 

We can only operate at environmental and social loss for so long, otherwise we will go bankrupt.” 
Martin Rich, Co-Founder and Executive Director at Future Fit

Ultimately business needs to find ways to design wellbeing into their economic system and incentivise those actions that have the potential to substantially contribute to positive impact.

 

In February 2019, UK-based Happy City released their all-new Happiness Pulse web-app, with support from the National Lottery Community Fund.  The Happiness Pulse is a free online survey that combines a range of academic measures of wellbeing into a simple and interactive five minute survey.

For too long we have focused on a vision of progress centred on consuming more, individually and collectively, to drive ‘economic growth’.  Happy City have, for almost ten years, been at the vanguard of a movement to recalibrate this collective compass, towards the wellbeing of people, place and planet.

Much of that work is about challenging the core local conditions for people to thrive – now and in the future, via our Thriving Places Index.  But at the heart of such change we must also measure, and as the adage says, therefore ‘treasure’ what matters most – the experienced lives in our communities.  The Happiness Pulse does just that.

No longer do you need a fleet of academics to gather and understand information on the complex web of factors that most influence our capacity to thrive.  Neither do you need deep pockets, or a PhD in wellbeing.  Happy City alongside a range of academics, leading experts, local decision makers and ordinary members of the public, have done the hard work for you.

Anyone can use the Happiness Pulse to quickly gather the key information from group or groups of any size, and produce accessible data reports to guide their work, and demonstrate the impact their organisation has on people’s lives.

The Happiness Pulse measures what matters – the things that both academic research and communities themselves say matter most to their lives.  They are grouped into three easily understood domains, ‘Be, Do and Connect’, to unearth the nuance often hidden behind simple happiness or life satisfaction surveys.  Are people, feeling, behaving and connecting, in ways that are helping or hindering their capacity to thrive?  The Happiness Pulse helps really spot ways to target time and resources where they are needed most.

This new tool also supports organisations to demonstrate social impact.  Those at the coalface of work in community organisations, or workforces have long known the ripple effect that work has on people’s lives beyond simplistic economic measures – now they can demonstrate the detail of that impact in an easy, reliable and trusted way.

And importantly it gives back to those whose lives it explores. This is more than a simple survey – it instantly shares the results in really accessible and thought provoking ways to the individuals who take it, the teams who deliver it, and the leaders who commission it, helping each to take their part in the vital job of improving wellbeing.

Joseph Stiglitz wisely said that ‘If we measure the wrong things, we strive for the wrong things’.  For too long we have not valued wellbeing enough to invest in really measuring and understanding it.  The Happiness Pulse can change all that at any scale from a tiny community group or enterprise, up to a multi-national organization or an entire city.

The Happiness Pulse can help you right now, to measure, understand and improve the wellbeing of your family, your workplace, your community or your town or city.  It is designed to:

  • MEASURE: Map and track wellbeing strengths and needs to better tailor interventions to support individuals, teams and communities to thrive
  • UNDERSTAND: Evaluate the social impact and value of interventions, projects and programmes to understand the detail of works and demonstrate this to funders, staff, boards, partners and communities themselves with accessible, shareable reports.
  • IMPROVE: The easy to use dashboard helps build a picture of wellbeing changes, informing and evaluating actions, interventions and investments and easy ways to share learning.

Happy City and their partners have worked tirelessly to make this new tool practical and useful – for individuals, groups, businesses, communities and policy makers.  The basic version is entirely free to use – at any scale – to support usage across sectors and communities UK wide.  Together, users will help start shifting our collective compass to improving lives, not just lining pockets.

In addition there are a wide range of additional features that can support more in-depth understanding and more bespoke outcomes for those organisations deeply committed to building a wellbeing culture and economy where they are.

So take your Happiness Pulse today – and see how you could start improving lives – your own and those around you. Visit happinesspulse.org for more information and to sign up for your free account.