How can we maintain individual and collective quality of life while growing our economy?

What’s the problem?

Balancing economic growth with other components of well-being is crucial to sustainable development. Alt text Wellbeing – whether at the level of the individual or society – goes beyond material living standards. It is a combination of community liveability, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity.

Sustainability is concerned with the future and with the ability to maintain certain values, assets or capabilities over the long term. This requires taking into account equity within society and across generations and actively making decisions that address the interaction between environmental, social and economic domains.

Seven things you need to know

  • Australia's National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (1992) defines ecologically sustainable development as: 'using, conserving and enhancing the community's resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased'.

  • According to the OECD’s Better Life Index, Australia performs very well in many measures of well-being relative to most other countries. Australia ranks above the average for factors such as environmental quality, health status, housing, personal security, jobs and earnings, education and social connections, but below average in work-life balance.

  • Until 2014, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) monitored a range of social and environmental measures beyond economic growth via Measures of Australia’s Progress (MAP).

  • On September 25th 2015, the UN’s 193 member states formally agreed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda succeeds the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

  • The 2030 Agenda includes 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 169 targets within those goals to be achieved over the next 15 years. In addition to building on the MDGs, the SDGs include new goals on economic growth, infrastructure, peace and effective governance, and oceans.

  • The World Happiness Report uses a mix of GDP, social support (as measured by someone to count on in times of trouble), healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity (as measured by donations) and perceptions of corruption to rank countries. According to its latest report, Denmark is the happiest country in the world, followed by Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Finland. At the bottom of the list were Benin, Afghanistan, Togo, Syria and Burundi

  • In Australia the collaborative economy has grown over recent years, particularly in the transport and accommodation sectors. In NSW alone, the collaborative economy’s current value it estimated to be $504 million per year and growing rapidly.

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