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What money can't buy - UN discusses happiness as a measure of progress

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The world needs to move away from measuring success in purely economic terms, and should instead consider other criteria, including distribution of resources, sustainability, health, human rights and education. These were the discussions in a landmark meeting of the United Nations (UN), calling for new measurements of wellbeing beyond GDP in the run up to the Rio sustainability summit in June.

In the future we will look back on this meeting as a turning point – it is now evident that many of the most influential people in the world agree that we need to reconsider what makes us happy. It is clearly not rampant consumerism.

Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA


The High Level Meeting “Happiness and Well-being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” was hosted on 2 April by the Government of Bhutan at the UN headquarters in New York. It brought together hundreds of representatives from governments, religious organisations, academia and civil society to discuss the issue.

buthan prime minister

Prime Minister of Bhutan, Lyonchoen Jigmi Yoezer Thinley

The discussion was chaired by Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EEA).

“The economic crisis, accelerating environmental degradation and growing discontent around the world all point to one conclusion – GDP as the sole measure of success has reached the end of the road,” she said. “In the future we will look back on this meeting as a turning point – it is now evident that many of the most influential people in the world agree that we need to reconsider what makes us happy. It is clearly not rampant consumerism.”

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CITIES ALLIANCE

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CITIES ALLIANCE

WHAT IS THE CITIES ALLIANCE?

The Cities Alliance is a global partnership for urban poverty reduction and the promotion of the role of cities in sustainable development.

CITIES ALLIANCE MEMBERS
  • Local authorities: United Cities and Local Governments and Metropolis
  • Governments: Australia, Brazil, Chile, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States of America
  • Non-governmental organisations: Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and Habitat for Humanity International
  • Multi-lateral organisations: European Union, UNEP, UN-HABITAT and the World Bank
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STAR Community Index

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The New Standard for Sustainability

The STAR Community Index™ (STAR) is a pioneering, strategic planning and performance management system that will offer local governments a road map for improving community sustainability. STAR helps communities address their interconnected concerns -- economic, environmental and social.

ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), National League of Cities (NLC) and the Center for American Progress (CAP) have established a partnership to develop STAR with the goal of launching this tool in 2012.

>> STAR Overview Presentation: Advancing Livable & Sustainable Communities (pdf)

Why STAR Is Groundbreaking

STAR uniquely combines:

  • a framework for sustainability that presents a vision of how communities can become more healthy, prosperous and inclusive
  • goals and performance measures that are clear, consistent, and easily accessible, enabling cities and counties to more easily track their performance over time
  • a rating system that drives continuous improvement and fosters competition in advancing community health, prosperity and inclusion
  • an online performance management tool that gathers, organizes, analyzes, and presents information required to meet sustainability goals

Built by and for Local Governments

STAR’s ambitious vision is primed for success thanks to the unprecedented collaboration involved in its creation, with more than 160 volunteers representing more than 50 cities and counties, state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, national associations, universities, utilities, and private corporations.

These volunteers contribute thousands of hours each year, bring a diversity of perspectives and expertise, and provide a formidable brain trust for informing both the structure and content of the STAR system. This level of local government engagement has built a constituency of early adopters that will help provide fertile ground on which STAR can grow once established.

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Informed Cities Forum 2011

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Informed Cities Forum 2011Informed Cities Forum 2011

Rio+20, local performance and the role of research
Naples, Italy
Thousands of European local governments have signed up to the Aalborg Commitments, the Covenant of Mayors and other local sustainability schemes but what about the results? For local governments to deliver on their commitments, we need more than tools, schemes and frameworks. Can research provide the missing piece of the local sustainability puzzle?

The second Informed Cities Forum will bring together local policy makers, researchers working on urban sustainability and the representatives of the institutions behind the main European local sustainability schemes to take stock of local governments’ achievements so far and outline a new vision for local sustainability, in preparation for the Rio+20 UN Conference in 2012.

Building on the success of our 2010 event, the discussion on the cooperation between local policy makers and researchers will continue, but this time using the experience and data gathered during the initiative's European-wide explorative application of two research-based sustainability management tools. By setting the conference in the medieval interiors of Naples' Castel dell’Ovo, participants will be inspired to engage in an open debate, reflection and meaningful interaction, away from the hectic pace of everyday life.

The project is coordinated by ICLEI and implemented in partnership with Northumbria University (United Kingdom), Ambiente Italia (Italy) and Åbo Akademi University (Finland). The Informed Cities Forum is organised in cooperation with the Municipality of Naples, the Province of Naples and the University of Naples Federico II.

For the latest information and networking opportunities, join www.facebook.com/InformedCities.
 

Inclusive Business and the Millennium Development Goals: Summary of the New York MDG Summit Dialogue

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Inclusive Business and the Millennium Development Goals: Summary of the New York MDG Summit Dialogue

Inclusive Business and the Millennium Development Goals: Summary of the New York MDG Summit Dialogue

Geneva, October 27, 2010 - The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), along with a number of the world's leading business networks and initiatives, have issued a summary report ( 4.6 MB) on the dialogue they convened during the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals on 21 September 2010 in New York City.

The dialogue gathered some 200 specially selected leaders from companies, governments, international organizations, aid agencies and NGOs from around the world to highlight concrete examples of how companies are "walking the talk" in developing inclusive business, i.e., sustainable business solutions that expand access to goods, services, and livelihood opportunities for low-income communities.

2010-Summit-on-the-MDGsThe report, titled Delivering Results: Moving Towards Scale, captures the key ideas, suggestions and comments that were articulated during the dialogue. It highlights the progress that has been made towards achieving the MDGs through inclusive business approaches; the potential inclusive business has to deliver new opportunities for low-income people and commercial returns for companies; the diverse ways in which businesses can become involved in inclusive business opportunities; the challenges that remain to integrating these models into core operations; and, most importantly, a roadmap for overcoming such challenges and realizing the many exciting opportunities that lie ahead.

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