Today the whole of world politics is crucially determined by the faith in the paradigm of growth: the idea that together with economic growth the prosperity, quality of life of people also improves, which in turn means that the number one welfare indicator nowadays is the gross domestic product, GDP. The past few decades have demonstrated even in the most successful countries from the point of view of growth, that this presumption does not correspond to the facts, moreover the ever worsening symptoms of the ecological crisis remind us also that the ever increasing exploitation of the planet’s resources must not be continued any further.
The aim of our project dealing with alternative indicators is to promote, encourage the establishment and the application of complex statistical indexes that indicate realistically the levels of development and sustainability within the society, helping authorities to make well-informed decisions. In order to lay the foundations for these indicators we ordered two researches in the year 2010.
We commissioned the Institute of Ecology and Botany of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to research the development of the ecological capital of Hungary over the past hundred and fifty years. The result of the research shows a worse picture than expected: summarizing the data we can see that Hungary has lost at least 60% of its natural capital in this period.
The other research was conducted by the Institute of Behavioural Sciences of the Semmelweis University. They compared certain main indicators of economic growth and social welfare in the past decades. According to this research, there is rather little interrelation that can be observed between these two; respectively important sets of indicators, for example trust among people has significantly decreased unfortunately in the recent years, during the period when economic growth was still tangible.
An important common lesson to be drawn from the sometimes surprising results of the two researches is the confirmation of our opinion that a great deal of extra information could be delivered for the decision-makers by regularly performing such examinations. These investigations could support decision-making on all levels in an easy to understand way and thus facilitate the decision processes.
This was one of the reasons why we started, and would like to continue to promote in the future as well, the dialogue between the state sector and the scientific communities. This initiative helps to create and apply as soon as possible the extended family of indicators that helps to interpret and implement on a system level the demand for sustainable development. This way we can finally precisely trace on the national level, as well as on the level of the individual measures the impact of decisions on the ecological and social system. For this purpose we continuously cooperate among others with the Central Statistical Office, the State Audit Office, several renowned research groups, and also with the international institutions interested in this topic.