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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

19 September 2023

ESCAP ES

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to provide the opening remarks and to welcome you to the International Conference on Measuring Well-being “Beyond GDP” in Asia, South-East Asia and Korea.

I would like to start by welcoming Mr. Hyoung ll Lee to his new role as the Commissioner of Statistics Korea.

Measuring well-being beyond GDP is an important topic that has implications for how we meet global goals and targets related to sustainability and well-being.

This event is timely as we are now at the midpoint of the 2030 target year, and whereas a region, we are severely off track.

Persistent inequalities in education, income and life expectancy, along with biodiversity losses and increasing risks from disasters and climate change, underscore the necessity for progress measures that address these global challenges.

Despite being widely used, GDP, supported by the System of National Accounts, lacks a complete view of well-being or sustainability. It fails to consider distributional concerns about income and overlooks trends in national wealth linked to natural or human capital.

In the report Our Common Agenda, the Secretary-General emphasized the need for complementary measures to GDP, noting, and I quote, that “now is the time to correct a glaring blind spot in how we measure economic prosperity and progress.”

Multiple global efforts have been doing that through the development and implementation of various approaches, including the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting and the Sustainable Development Goals.

But there is still much more work to be done to integrate these measures into decision-making and policy processes.  

In May this year, the United Nations published a policy brief, which provided proposals to help to develop a universal and comprehensive measurement of progress and sustainable development to complement GDP.

This included a renewed political commitment to create a conceptual framework that can accurately “value what counts” for people, the planet and the future, anchored in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and set out the process for taking this work forward.

Through this event and other discussions, including the Summit of the Future planned for next year, we will need to look at how we can make a paradigm shift in what we measure as progress so that we can capture broader measures of well-being and sustainability.

We have an opportunity to work together to shape our future into one that is more equal and resilient to crises and one in which the benefits of social and economic progress are shared by all.

By moving beyond GDP, we can measure what we truly value, reconsider what we mean by progress and, using this information, we can make informed policy choices which will bring us back on track to achieving the SDGs and to ensuring no one is left behind.

I would like to congratulate Statistics Korea and OECD for organizing this event and for helping to shape these important discussions.

Thank you, and I wish you well for the remainder of this event

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