GDP is getting a makeover

Pressure is mounting to downgrade GDP or improve it so economic growth is not the only game in town.

The numbers are heading in the wrong direction. If the world continues on its current track, it will fall well short of achieving almost all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the United Nations set to protect the environment and end poverty and inequality by 2030.

The projected grade for:

Eliminating hunger: F.

Ensuring healthy lives for all: F.

Protecting and sustainably using ocean resources: F.

The trends were there before 2020, but then problems increased with the COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine and the worsening effects of climate change. The world is in “a new uncertainty complex”, says economist Pedro Conceição, lead author of the United Nations Human Development Report.

One measure of this is the drastic change in the Human Development Index (HDI), which combines educational outcomes, income and life expectancy into a single composite indicator. After 2019, the index has fallen for two successive years for the first time since its creation in 1990. “I don’t think this is a one-off, or a blip. I think this could be a new reality,” Conceição says.

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