Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Measuring and Indexing Social Progress

Here are two (relatively) new sources for measuring social progress

The Social Progress Index launched at the Skoll World Forum. It aims to show the degree to which nations "provide for the social and environmental needs" of their residents. It organizes data along three dimensions, basic human needs, wellbeing, and opportunity. The components of the index are explained on the site, the results can be viewed in the aggregate or by country/by component, and the methodology is explained (though the site mostly refers the reader to the full report). The site doesn't clearly state (or I couldn't find it) the data sources, except on page 45 of the downloadable methodology appendix.  The complete dataset is exportable in CSV format.

The Index is a product of the Social Progress Imperative.

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board is a nonprofit effort to develop industry specific methods for tracking and reporting efforts at sustainable practice. As wonky as it sounds, SASB is trying to develop practices for valuing all assets and providing integrated ways to account for them. The need for this comes from the increasing recognition of "uncounted externalities" such as pollution. The desire is to help industries value and track their cumulative use of resources in standardized, comparable, required ways that can improve performance and investor knowledge.

SASB is developing the standards with many stakeholders, focusing on 88 industries, and has received financial support and endorsements from several foundations and Bloomberg LLP, as well as in-kind support from publicity firms, lawyers, and fundraisers.

Both efforts are interesting examples of data-driven approaches to change.

1 comment:

Jonathan Talbot said...

Thanks for highlighting the just-launched Social Progress Index. You're right that it is not as easy as it could be to find data sources on the main site. For the moment they are listed under 'Definitions', and users need to click on the names of components to see the names of constituent indicators, and then click on the names of indicators to see a description of the indicator as well as the source information. The page as of April 26, 2013 is here: http://www.socialprogressimperative.org/data/spi/definitions .

We are working to make that information easier to find.