Beyond GDP. New well-being indicators and the sustainability of development.
Rome, 11 May 2010

Gathered together in Rome for one morning conference on sustainability of development and new well-being indicators to go beyond GDP, high level politicians, academic, industry and trade unions representatives discussed about new instruments for measuring the "real wealth of nations" and to go beyond GDP .

The conference, organized in close collaboration by CIRPS and Farefuturo Foundation, was opened by Gianfranco Fini, President of the Low Chamber of the Italian Parliament, who introduced the audience to the topic highlighting the relevance of the issues for Italian decision makers.

Followed the intervention of Professor Kazuhiko Takeuchi, Vice Director of United Nationts University and Editor-in-Chief of Sustainability Science, who explained basics of Sustainability Science and the potential contribution of a trans-disciplinar approach for the improvement of currently used indicators. Later on, Mario Baldassari and Florella Kostoris, both Professors of Economics at Sapienza University, entered into the details of limits of conventional economic indicators for measuring social and environmental progresses and well-being of individuals, as well as emphasizing the essential role played by GDP and other meters for tracking economic progresses of nations.

Subsequently, Professor Fabio Orecchini, Director of Energy and Environment Unit of CIRPS and Chairman of the Panel Industry and Academia a Transition towards Sustainability, clarified the challenges faced by society, industry and politicians face to sustainability, underlining the crucial role that each stakeholder has to play for in the construction of new indicators. He also explained the content of the Backround Paper produced by CIRPS and Farefuturo, which mapped the most robust and innovative initiatives for constructing new measuring tools to go beyond GDP and launched the initiative of a "working table" for the duration of one year, aimed at fostering the debate in Italy and at producing concrete answers to the need of correcting classical instruments through the inclusion of environmental and social aspects.

The conference has been concluded with a round table where Raffaele Bonanni, Secretary General of CISL (a major Italian Trade Union), Enrico Letta, Vice-Secretary General of Democratic Party, Elena Guidi, President of Young Enterpreneurs of Confidustria (the major Italian Industry Confederation) and Adolfo Urso, Vice-Minister for the Economic Development, answered to the question of Professor Orecchini about the main topics covered during the first session and agreed about the relevance of the topic especially in period of strong economic crises and urgent necessity of structural and long term reform.

The questions were, in the order, the following:
  • Not all the jobs are the same? Sustainable versus unsustainable jobs.
  • How relevant is Sustainability becoming for industry strategy? The increasing importance of sustainability indicators like Dow Jones Sustainability Index
  • Is the attention of policy-makers focusing more and more on sustainability?
  • How sustainability is changing the economic policy of the European Union?