Green Party TDs Neasa Hourigan and Marc Ó Cathasaigh today launched the Green Party position paper on the use of Wellbeing Indicators as a tool in national budgets and policymaking.
In this paper, the Green Party proposes that it is the duty of government to base budgetary and policy decisions on improving the wellbeing of all those who live under their jurisdiction in a social, environmental and economic model that respects this generation and the next. This ambition aligns well with Green Party targets for the introduction of economic parameters reflecting the ‘Doughnut Economics’ model of fiscal analysis.
Speaking at the launch, Neasa Hourigan TD said:
“Due to foreign direct investments, our GDP isn’t always a good reflection of how we’re really doing as an economy. How do people feel? Do they feel that they’re getting on in life? Are they well? Do your kids have access to a green space? If you’re a person with a disability, can you get employment? Those are the issues that the economy is meant to address, and Wellbeing Indicators are hopefully a way of doing this.
“We’re not the only country looking at ways to address these gaps. When you see Germany questioning their GDP as a method for making decisions, you know that there’s some serious sea change happening across Europe and across the world. This is about long-term planning.
“This is a route to better long-term planning with people and communities at the heart of big decisions, and what we hope to see emerging from this is recommendations, like for example, multi-annual budgeting. We see that in the disability community, we see that in health and other service-providers, they need to know that budget allocations are going to come year on year. That’s the kind of thing that wellbeing budgets would actually deliver.”
Also speaking at the launch, Marc Ó Cathasaigh TD said:
“We’re not being prescriptive in this position paper. What we’re doing is taking an overview of the international models out there and building on the work of the OECD, because if we are to build a wellbeing indicator, we want to build it from the ground up. We want to have community involvement. We want it to be much more than just a Green Party initiative. We want to span across parties within the Dáil because this is a measure of our economy that we should use going forward. We know that there’s a lot of things that GDP or Modified GNI are very much silent on, things like civic engagement, for example, things around our treatment of minorities in our communities. GDP has nothing to say on that. Even in terms of wealth distribution, GDP isn’t a good measure in that regard.
“If we get a measure of where we are and where we progressed from, that will make it easier for us to determine what our priorities are, and that includes things that are subjective as well. We experienced this in the last economic recovery; we were told that we were recovering when people didn’t actually feel it. And that’s important as well.”
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