Friday, 29 June 2012

Week in Review

Hello, Welcome to the Week in Review. We have taken on board your suggestions and ideas for how to improve the style and format- we hope you like it. This week we are focusing on measuring progress in Europe (last week Rio+20).

This week the OECD hosted The European Conference on Measuring Well-Being and Fostering the Progress of Societies, attended by around 250 policy makers, statisticians, academics, and key stakeholders from the European region. Speakers included Walter Radermacher, Jeni Klugman, Enrico Giovannini, Martine Durand, Robert Manchin and more. As discussions focused on material conditions, quality of life, and sustainability, an interesting news article on inequality in the UK caught our eye.

Inequality ‘worst since second world war’ (Guardian 27.06.2012)

Professor Dorling, an expert in inequality, has said that the top 1 per cent of the rich in the UK continue to become increasingly richer, and the rest of the better-off 10 per cent increasingly have more in common with the remaining 9/10ths of society and less in common with those at the top.
(more on inequality)

Number crunch: 6 of the top 10 countries on the 2011 Human Development Index are in Europe. The largest economy in Europe is Germany, and the ‘happiest’ country is Norway- ranking 29th of 151 countries on the Happy Planet Index.

* Sources: 2011 Human Development Index, GDP (nominal) IMF 2011, 2012 Happy Planet Index

Image of the week: This photo shows the balance between the natural environment and built environment. In fitting with this week’s European theme, the photo of Prague is one of the many new photos Wikiprogress will be showcasing in response to the question: What does progress mean to you?

If you have a photograph that you think represents progress, please send it to us via email ( or post it on the Wikiprogress Facebook Wall.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Positive indicators of child well-being, a must

The decisions made today affect children’s futures, their chances of ‘well becoming’ and their ongoing 'well-being'. Traditionally so called ‘negative’ indicators, which reveal deficiencies in health, behavioural and educational achievements, have been applied to measuring the state of children throughout the world. As noted by Asher Ben-Arieh (2000), with the coining of the term ‘well-being’ and a transition from assessing children’s mere survival (child immunisation, child mortality) more attention was paid to the value of positive indicators. Ben Arieh argues that, the absence of problems or failures does not necessarily indicate proper growth and success. Measuring positive outcomes not only helps to identify what works and where to invest further. Additionally in the absence of subjective measures it limits assumptions of what constitutes well-being across different contexts and when used in conjunction with negative indicators, creates a better picture, of how to ensure children’s well-becoming. The debate of well-being vs ‘well becoming’ is an interesting one. A child’s present state of well-being, in comparison to what may become of it in the future, are both important factors to measure, and they are highly interdependent. Well-being is not assured without some degree of future security and protection of an individual’s interests, and well-becoming is nothing without a solid foundation beneath it. The layered effect of such analysis inclusive of the intricacies of positive and negative measurements are important for assuring the attainment of the ultimate goals of ensuring children are healthy and happy and that they develop into productive citizens of society. The climate change and Rio+20 discussions, resonate with this approach of looking at children’s well-being and development, the idea that today’s decisions affect children’s future well-being. Hannah Chadwick Wikichild Coordinator

Friday, 22 June 2012

Week in Review


Welcome to the new and improved week in review. Thanks to all those for suggestions on changes you would like to see in the format and display of the week in review. Over the next few weeks we will be testing out new ideas, please let us know what you like and what you would like to see change by commenting on this blog post or by posting on our Facebook wall.

Headlines, quotes and infographics that caught our eye this week:

News from Rio+20: All eyes were on Rio this week with the Rio+20 Summit setting the new agenda for sustainable development. As well-being and sustainable development are deeply intertwined, measures of human development and sustainability were brought into the spotlight.

Measuring Human and Environmental Progress: World Leaders Call for New Metrics at Rio+20 (Think Progress 20.06.2012)

Quote of the week:
Equity, dignity, happiness, sustainability – these are all fundamental to our lives but absent in the GDP.
Helen Clark, UNDP, speaking at Rio+20 as the UNDP reveal a new template for a Sustainable Human Development Index. See more on the UNDP blueprint for new measures of progress.

Number crunch: 75-250 million people in sub-Saharan Africa could be exposed to increased water stress by 2020 as a result of climate change. (ONE)

Infographic of the week: Empower Women. Go Green. (by Wikigender partner UN Women)

Question: Rio+20 aims to “secure a political commitment to sustainable development,” which will include an articulation of the commitment needed; the emerging concept of ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs), similar and supportive to the Millennium Development Goals, seems fit to fill this place.

As the concept and definition of SDGs is still being formed, what elements of development, growth and progress would you like to see included in this framework?

(You can respond to this question by commenting on the blog post or adding your ideas to the Wikiprogress article on the Sustainable Development Goals).

That's all from us this week. Please let us know what you think of the changes to the Week in Review and be sure to tune again the same time next week. In the meantime, stay update with Wikiprogress via Facebook and Twitter.

Yours in Progress,

Philippa Lysaght

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Rio +20: sustainable development without women is not possible!

While the Rio+20 UN Conference will be an important opportunity to define international frameworks to advance sustainability, it is critical that gender equality is high on the agenda. “Leaders need to recognize the value of women’s contributions to environmental management, and development”, said Michelle Bachelet at a press conference on 18 June. It is clear that achieving sustainable development in poor countries is not possible without sustainable energy, and women are the ones that spend the most time collecting firewood, crop wastes and other materials to burn as fuel. And, when it comes to climate change, women’s contributions to climate change mitigation and adaptation are crucial, yet they are often the most affected despite contributing the least to the problem.

“Today women in developing countries make up 43 percent of agricultural workers, but can’t get equal access to land, credit or new technologies. This is not sustainable. The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that giving women the same access as men to fertilizers, seeds, tools and other types of agriculture support would raise agricultural output and result in 100 to 150 million fewer hungry people”.

Michelle Bachelet, 18 June Press Conference at Rio+20

Ahead of Rio+20, Wikigender has organised an online discussion on “How can gender equality be better integrated into climate change policies and programmes in order to ensure sustainable development?” The main messages were presented at the 10th OECD DAC Network on Gender Equality meeting (Gendernet), during the 14 June workshop on “gender equality, climate change, and green growth”. At the workshop, we learned via a presentation of the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050 that if no action is taken, the greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 50% by 2050 and temperatures will rise by 3 to 6 Celsius degrees by the end of the century. This means that we will have more extreme weather conditions and the crops and infrastructure will be at risk. Other consequences of inaction include more urban air pollution, an increase of the global water demand by 55% - which has huge implications for irrigation of crops, livestock, electricity, manufacturing and domestic use.

Many of the emerging themes from the online discussion resonated very strongly with the ideas brought forward by the Gendernet members during the workshop (see the summary report). 
For me, the most important point is that women and sustainable development should be looked at as two closely intertwined issues, and we should benefit from women’s expert knowledge and foster women’s leadership so that what they are doing at a local level can be scaled up or replicated elsewhere. I was pleased that participants left the workshop with a sense of “urgency”: this is a huge task and while it may be too late to influence the Rio +20 agenda now, we know where we need to focus post Rio+20. As Eleanor Blomstrom, WEDO’s Program Coordinator and Rio+20 focal point put it, “there is literally no more time to waste”. Giving women equal access to natural resources and basic services such as electricity, water and sanitation is therefore a priority. We need to invest in women to achieve “the future we want”: this will address the intergenerational challenge and contribute to sustainable development in the economic, social and environmental dimensions.

We need to remove the barriers preventing women from advancing and focus on building on women’s knowledge, skills and capacities. Numerous examples were given during the online discussion of the key role of women in sustainable development, and  some good practices were given at the workshop including training women to improve seed resistance to climatic hazards or supporting women’s groups or supporting women’s groups of savings banks to develop income-generating activities.

“Sustainable development requires women’s rights, equal opportunities and women’s full participation. The current model – of environmental decline, rising inequality and an up-and-down economy is not sustainable. A world in balance requires gender equality”.

Michelle Bachelet, 18 June Press Conference at Rio+20

The business case for women has already been made and appears clearly: sustainable development is not possible without including the potential of half of a nation’s workforce. So what can be done to influence the outcome and follow up of Rio+20?

Answer by commenting below and follow our Special Focus on “Women and sustainable development at the Rio+20 UN Conference” to keep up to date with media articles addressing gender equality and Rio+20!

Estelle Loiseau

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

“I am fighting for my future”

In just over ten days, from June 20-22, representatives from world governments, civil society and the private sector will come together in Rio de Janiero for the Rio+20[1] conference, to discuss and address the multiple environmental challenges facing the world today. The objective of the conference is to attain renewed political commitment to sustainable development, ‘while addressing new and emerging challenges’.

Rio+20 follows on from the Earth Summit held twenty years ago in Rio de Janiero, where in recognition of the role of children to the process of sustainable development, a chapter titled ‘Children & Youth in Sustainable Development’ was included in the ‘Agenda 21’ workplan and adopted with the following wording:

"Youth comprise nearly 30 per cent of the world's population. The involvement of today's youth in environment and development decision-making and in the implementation of programmes is critical to the long-term success of Agenda 21".

Twenty years later young people continue to be involved in preparations and through the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) they will be involved in sustainability negotiations at Rio+20.

Balancing the needs of the current generation with those of the future is argued to be a matter of urgency. This message was clearly conveyed at the 1992 Earth Summit, by a 12 year old Canadian girl named Severn Suzuki. In a speech to delegates Suzuki stated that she was there ‘fighting for her future’ and soberingly communicated her fears and concerns for the world while calling on adults to ‘change their ways’.  

Suzuki’s speech resonated with delegates to the point of reducing some to tears. She came to be known as ‘the girl who silenced the world for 5 minutes’ (see the video here) and the impact of her speech reverberated throughout the world.

With over 20 million views on You Tube, Suzuki’s speech continues to be heard as do its core messages of protecting the environment for future generations and of addressing the extreme inequality present throughout the world. Nevertheless, in a world where governments, public and private sector organisations face competing and urgent priorities, the same statement of ‘I am fighting for my future... ‘  could equally be made by Suzuki’s children today.

The consistency of these messages is encouraging, as is the increasing acceptance of the argument for including children’s subjective perceptions in processes of social change and action. Change takes time, sometimes generations. It is easy to become fatigued with the slow pace and in this respect the perspective of children can play a refreshing and encouraging role as well as remind us of the responsibilities we as adults carry for future generations.

A Kenyan proverb, quoted by Archibishop Desmond Tutu is pertinent to this point, "The world was not given to you by your parents; it was lent to you by your children."

Hannah Chadwick
Wikichild Coordinator

[1] The United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development, also known as the Earth Summit, was first held twenty years ago in Rio de Janiero.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Week in review

Dear week in review readers,

We would like to present you with a new and improved week in review and would like to hear your views on what changes you would like to see and what you would like us to keep. Please let us know by commenting on this post.

In the meantime, here are this week’s updates from the progress community.

On Rio
Rio Heads for Economics With Meaning (BBC 14.06.2012)
Ahead of next week’s Rio+20, this article examines various progress initiatives around the world and sheds a new light on the argument against GFP. In GDP-world, a society that drives is richer than one that cycles, as more money is spent.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on comprehensive indicators

On gender and sustainable development 
Women Must Be at the Forefront of Rio+20, and Beyond (IPS 15.06.2012)
In an interview with IPS the Head of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, talks about the importance of gender equality as a dimension of sustainable development. Women farmers make up 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries and 80 percent in some parts of Africa.
See more and contribute to the Wikigender article on gender and climate change

Indices released this week: It’s been a exciting few days, There were three progress indices released this week, hightlights below.

Happy Planet Index 
The Happy Planet Index (HPI) measures the extent to which countries can provide sustainable and happy lives for their populations; it uses data on life expectancy, experienced well-being and ecological footprint to calculate this.

Global Peace Index 
The Global Peace Index (GPI) measures peace in 158 countries according to 23 qualitative and quantitative measures of peace. The index gauges the level of security and safety, international and domestic conflict and degree of militarisation.

Cost of Living Survey 
The Cost of Living Survey, produced by Mercer, shows Tokyo is the most expensive city to live in in the world, followed by Luanda (Angola) and Osaka (Japan). Karachi, Pakistan is ranked as the world's least expensive city and is less than one-third as expensive as Tokyo.

GDP (nominal) of 183 World Bank 2011
Human Development Index 2011
Happy Planet Index 2012
Global Peace Index 2012

Your in Progress,

Thursday, 14 June 2012

1/5th of the world’s children and counting: the increasing issue of child labour

Tuesday of this week, June 12, marked the 10th World Day Against Child Labour. As reported by the International Labour Organisation, of all the children in the world today, more than 200 million are child labourers. This equates to nearly a fifth of the world’s children and includes nearly a quarter of all children in Sub Saharan Africa where child labour is most widespread (ILO, 2003).

Poverty is one of the most common reasons for a child to start working, either of their own will or coerced by others.  Persistent economic constraint and uncertainty in many countries due to the ongoing effects of the 2008 financial crisis, have contributed to an increasing number of children working to supplement family incomes (the Guardian, 2012).

There is some criticism for the stance taken against child labour based on the argument that without that income, children and their families would be much worse off. Nevertheless, a significant proportion of all child labourers are not paid and a study conducted in Brazil revealed that former child labourers were three times more likely to need their own children to work. As this finding illustrates, child labour has an intergenerational impact as it denies children an education and consequently limits their future opportunities.

Child labour is in direct contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and it is not limited to developing countries. The demand for cheap products in developed countries and responsive supply chains that use child labour spread the problem throughout the world. A 2009 report by the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labour Affairs (ILAB) listed a diverse range of goods that are produced through child labour or forced labour, many of which are commonly found in developed country homes and stores. The campaign ‘products of slavery’ has drawn on this data to produce a global map, showing where products are made using child or forced labour.

Additionally, as illustrated by the Maplecroft Child Labour Index of 2012, which evaluates the frequency and severity of reported labour incidents in 197 countries, child labour is alarmingly widespread and growing. The Index has categorised 40% of countries as extreme risk and only 32 as low risk. Described another way, 76 countries now pose extreme child labour complicity risks, more than a 10% increase from last year’s total of 68. Worsening global security, conflict and economic downturn are put forward as reasons for this increase (the Guardian, 2012).

Education is fundamental to achieving the elimination of child labour and functions both to prevent it and address it. The Brookings Institute’s Global Compact on Education report - Wikichild’s spotlight this week – reports that every year of additional education reduces a country’s chances of falling into war by 3.6%, and can add 10% to an individual’s annual earnings. Thus education mitigates the driving factors behind child labour and helps to address the intergenerational trap.

An estimated 136 million children and youth are still out of primary and lower secondary school. The majority of them are girls and a significant proportion live in Sub Saharan Africa and South West Africa. Progress has been made on improving education outcomes in recent years, driven in particular by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Education for All (EFA) movements (Brookings Institute, 2011), however as these figures illustrate more needs to be done. Days such as the World Day Against Child Labour provide the opportunity to take stock of progress, what strategies work and what is left to be done.

Hannah Chadwick
Wikichild Coordinator

The 2012 Happy Planet Index launched today

Costa Rica and most Latin American countries are more efficient than richer nations such as the USA and Germany. That’s the message that comes out of the new Happy Planet Index, launched today by nef (the new economics foundation).

The HPI is a measure of progress that measures what matters – the extent to which people within countries achieve long, happy, lives whilst leaving resources for future generations to do the same. It’s an efficiency measure – how much well-being do countries produce per unit of ecological resources?

For the second time, Costa Rica tops the list. In this small Central American country, life expectancy is second only to Canada within the Americas, experienced well-being is higher than many richer nations, and the average Ecological Footprint of the population is one third the size of the average US citizen. Of the top 10 countries, only one is not in Latin America.

Meanwhile, Western nations are somewhat behind, the highest ranking European country being Norway in 29th place, just behind New Zealand in 28th. The US comes 105th. All of these countries do well, or at least reasonably well in terms of achieving health and happiness (though bear in mind that life expectancy in the US, for example, is only 3 years more than in Vietnam). But what really brings their HPI scores down is their Ecological Footprint. Happy and healthy yes, but not sustainably so.

The HPI highlights the importance of how we measure progress. Bringing the two central goals of well-being now and well-being in the future together into a single simple measure, it allows us to get a sense of the direction we need to travel in. It highlights that the countries that are normally seen as the models of success, such as the US or even places like Denmark (ranked 110th) are not actually the closest to achieving sustainable well-being. It ensures that measures of environmental impact are brought together with measures of what people instinctively and naturally value, and not left aside as additional information. And it does all this in a way that is easy to communicate.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

2012 Global Peace Index launched

Earlier this week the Institute for Economics and Peace released the 2012 Global Peace Index (GPI). The sixth edition of the GPI ranks 158 countries around the world according to 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators of peace. 

The Index found that the world has become slightly more peaceful this year, for the first time since 2009. Austerity-driven defence cuts and improvements in the political terror scale has caused the biggest overall change. 

Most and Least Peaceful 
The world’s most peaceful country is Iceland, followed by Denmark and New Zealand. Small and stable democracies dominate the top ten most peaceful countries. At the other end of the scale, Somalia is the least peaceful country, with Afghanistan and Sudan following closely. 

 Movers and shakers
Biggest movers on this year’s index saw Sri Lanka move over thirty places due to the end of the civil war, while Syria tumbled by the largest margin, from 116 to 147th. 

Regional changes 
For the first time in the history of the GPI, Sub-Saharan Africa is no longer the least peaceful region; this title now belongs to the Middle East and North Africa, reflecting the upheaval and instability caused by the Arab Spring. For the sixth year in a row, Western Europe is the most peaceful region.  

Economic Impact 
If the world had been completely peaceful over the last year, the economic benefit would have been an estimated U.S. $9 Trillion. 

The 2012 GPI was launched with a new interactive map. The map enables users to explore peace over time, compare up to three countries side by side and to visualise the socio-economic indicators associated with peace. 

See the Global Peace Index maps for more information

Philippa Lysaght

Friday, 8 June 2012

Week in Review

Hello, glad you could join us for the Wikiprogress week in review - a handful of headlines that have caught our eyes over the last week. You can find all news articles and blog posts on the progress community in the Wikiprogress Community Portal.

On well-being
The wealth of nations (The Economist 06.06.2012)
This week the Economist featured the OECD’s Beter Life Index; the BLI uses 24 variables across 11 sectors to create a measure of well-being for 34 of its member countries.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on the Better Life Index

A future we want
More than 2.6 billion people rely on the ocean's fish as their number one source of protein. Oceans are one of the critical issues on the agenda at the upcoming Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

On inequality
The Price of Inequality (Project Syndicate 05.06.2012)
America has one of the highest levels of inequality amongst ‘advanced countries’- and the gap is still widening, according to Joseph Stiglitz. In the post GFC recovery of 2009 - 2010, the top 1% of U.S. income earners captured 93% of the income growth.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on the Occupy Movement

On gender and climate change
Women Fight Blows from Climate Change with Sewing Machines and Eggs (IPS)
Three years after the devastating hurricane Ida that left behind a death toll of 200 and caused US $239 million worth of damage, women in Verapaz, a small town in El Salvador, are delighted to receive sewing machines hoping they will boost economic productivity.
Have your say in the Wikigender online discussion on gender equality and climate change (last day!)

Number Crunch:
In 1991 only 73% of girls in developing countries finished primary school; by 2010 the completion rate stood at 86%.

We hope you will tune in the same time next week. In the meantime, if anything interesting passes your desk that you would like to see in the next Wikiprogress week in review, please tweet it to us @Wikiprogress or post it on our Facebook page.

Yours in Progress,
Philippa Lysaght

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

How to get involved in the global discussion on child well-being

Wikichild is an open resource. Its core mission is to create a global information tool supported by a worldwide partnership of organisations and individuals wishing to participate in the collection, analysis and dissemination of data on child well-being. The ultimate aim is to provide a platform that facilitates the accessibility of child well-being statistics and information on child well-being issues in general, including information on events, publications and case-studies, and facilitates collaboration and networking opportunities in the area.
In recent months there has been a substantial amount of new material posted on the Wikichild portal.  Weekly spotlighted publications, blogs, new and amended seed articles and daily postings of child well-being relevant media have been added further contributing to make Wikichild an important global resource for research and advocacy in the field of child well-being.
In addition to this the Wikichild community is growing with Save the Children coming on board as a partner in May and the Wikichild team has noted an increasing number of visitors to the site from a wider variety of countries.
Wikichild is available for the global community to contribute to, learn and benefit from. If you have something to add, Create an account and become a User on the portal page. Alternatively join the discussion around child well-being by commenting on blogs posted on this ProgBlog.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Week in Review

Hello, glad you could join us for the Wikiprogress week in review - a handful of headlines that have caught our eyes over the last week. You can find all news articles and blog posts on the progress community in the Wikiprogress Community Portal.

On education
Strengthening Education in Bangladesh (UNDP 29.05.2012)
Bangladesh is now on track to reach one of the of the Millennium Development Goals: 100 percent primary school enrollment by 2015. A new education programme has been launched with the opening of 150 multilingual primary schools.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on progress in Bangladesh

On the economy
There's more to economics than austerity or growth (nef 22.05.2012)
Following the recent Festival of Transition, Andrew Simms of the new economics foundation (nef) asks why are the only two options being offered in response to the financial crisis in Europe, namely austerity or growth?
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on comprehensive indicators

Beyond GDP Africa
Demystifying Natural Capital Accounting: 10 African Countries Sign On (World Bank 25.05.2012)
At the Summit for Sustainability in Africa, 10 countries endorsed the need to measure national wealth by all types of capital, including social, human and natural. The group is hopeful that the upcoming Rio+20 conference will see another 50 countries join this effort.
See more and contribute to the Wikiprogress article on social capital

On gender equality
Rural Women in Peru Key to Adaptation of Seeds to Climate Change (IPS 29.05.2012)
Women from the rural Peruvian Highlights have been ensuring the preservation of seeds for hundreds of years by handing down their knowledge through stories. It is an invaluable wealth of knowledge that these women may no longer require, as unseasonal rainfall, extreme winds and other climate change related phenomena plague the area.
Contribute to the Wikigender online discussion on women and climate change

We hope you will tune in the same time next week. In the meantime, if anything interesting passes your desk that you would like to see in the next Wikiprogress week in review, please tweet it to us @Wikiprogress or post it on our Facebook page.

Yours in Progress,