The Measurement Revolution has already started

Over the last few years, and even more so after Rio+20, many calls have been heard for new tools to measure development towards sustainability, to measure wellbeing and happiness of people. And now there also is the challenge of another Eureka moment. Wow, let’s see if there is one.

Stiglitz stated: ‘If we measure the wrong things, we do the wrong things.’ Thus, let’s try to measure the right things: The Wellbeing of people and the circumstances in which we live and hope to do so for many, many more generations. That means that we have to measure:

- Human Wellbeing

- Environmental Wellbeing

- Economic Wellbeing

Human and Environmental Wellbeing are the goals to be met. Economic Wellbeing is not a goal in itself; it is a mean to enable the achievement of Human and Environmental Wellbeing.

 The Sustainable Society Index, SSI (, has been developed to measure sustainability, or if you prefer to say so, wellbeing which will remain, which is sustainable. The SSI explicitly includes all three dimensions of wellbeing. It is built up by only 21 indicators. So it is an easy and transparent tool, balancing between the need of information for policy purposes and the necessity to give a clear message to the public at large. The calculations of the SSI cover 151 countries, comprising no less than over 99% of the world population.

Since 2006 every two years an update of the SSI has been published.


The next update is due end November this year. We invite all of you to have a look at the SSI and see for yourself to what extent the SSI may serve the purpose of measuring wellbeing. We certainly don’t say the SSI is the one and only solution for all measurement problems. But it is at least a good one. That opinion is very much supported by the recent audit of the SSI by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, JRC. The conclusion of JRC is ‘that the revised SSI framework is conceptually coherent and meets the statistical requirements set by JRC. The SSI is well suited to assess nation’s development towards sustainability in its broad sense: Human, Environmental and Economic Wellbeing.’ The final report of JRC’s audit of the SSI will be published shortly. All JRC’s recommendations have already been implemented in the next update SSI-2012, which will be available in a month. And of course, all three previous editions of the SSI have been recalculated in accordance with the new framework, so one can see developments over time.

Let us know your comments and see how the SSI can contribute to a sustainable future for all of us, wherever you may live on our one and still only planet.

About the author:

Mr. Geurt van de Kerk ( is the President of the Sustainable Society Foundation. He had a career in management consulting, established in 1997 his publishing company and is since 2004 very much involved in development towards sustainability. He is  a member of the European Sustainable Development Network, ESDN, and the International Society of Ecological Economists, ISEE.

(This post first appeared on the  Wikiprogress ProgBlog)

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