OECD Secretary-General

Your Better Life Index


Introductory Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at OECD Forum 2011, first Session on Measuring Progress.

24 May 2011, OECD, Paris

President Türk, Honourable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Welcome to the first session of the OECD’s 50th Anniversary Forum. This session will focus on Measuring Progress of Societies, a topic which has become fundamental for development and policy-making in general.

Improving the quality of our lives should be the ultimate target of public policies. But public policies can only deliver best fruit if they are based on reliable tools to measure the improvement they seek to produce in our lives.

Measuring what we produce, through GDP or GNP, is still important for economic policy. But these indicators are not sufficient to assess our people’s wellbeing and progress.

As Bob Kennedy put it, back in 1968:

“gross national product counts air pollution, and cigarette advertising (…) It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for people who break them. (…) It counts Napalm, and it counts nuclear warheads, and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our city (…) Yet, the GNP does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play; it does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. (…) It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

At the OECD, we have been working hard to build new measuring tools and indicators, adapting them to the complexities of the 21st century. Since the first OECD World Forum, held in Palermo in 2004, we have engaged with policy makers, statisticians, scientists, economic and social actors from more than 130 countries. They all met in Istanbul in 2007, then in Busan in 2009 ─ where President Türk delivered an inspiring keynote speech. And they will re-convene in New Delhi, India, in October 2012.

This process has given rise to a truly global movement. Initiatives now range from community-based projects to the high-level Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, established by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy; for which the OECD provided valuable support.

Today, we are using this memorable occasion, the OECD 50th Anniversary Forum, to launch the OECD Better Life Initiative, presenting you with one of its central components: “Your Better Life Index”.

This innovative and interactive tool will enable you to rate your country on those things which make for a better life, according to your personal experience and criteria. We think it will make a significant contribution to help connect policy-making to human progress.

In the fall, we will release a new report ─ “How’s Life?” ─ to deepen the analysis of the drivers of well-being and enrich the Index with new countries and indicators. The work will continue to adjust our policy messages, according to the different picture that this exercise will deliver.

On this occasion, as a Grand Overture for this important Forum, we have asked the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr. Danilo Türk ─ one of the most committed supporters of this effort ─ to deliver a key-note speech, which I am sure will captivate your enthusiasm for this topic.

Then our Director for Public Affairs and Communications, Anthony Gooch, and Martine Durand, our Statistics Director, will present the Index to you in more detail.

I very much hope that you will enjoy and participate in this first session. And without further ado, I will leave the floor to President Türk so he can enlighten us with his ideas.


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