11 December 2013

Targeting well-being

Unfortunately the industry that has mushroomed around type 2 diabetes measures success in approvals for new drugs,  revenue earned, and money raised, not in suffering avoided or lives saved. Sugar Nation, Jeff O'Connell, 2011
It's the same at the level of national and international government. In the absence of coherent, explicit, policy goals that have been debated openly and bought into, we have accepted that corporate goals and a motley array of vague indicators, such as GDP per capita, or economic 'growth' as our default objectives. There might have been a strong correlation between the aggregation of such goals and societal well-being in the past, the society was less interlinked, the negative impacts of economic activity were less significant, less well known, or easier to escape. But for today? It's not good enough.

We need not only to target explicitly, broad indicators that are inextricably linked to social and environmental well-being; we need also to discuss them, and to engage the public with them so that, while we might not all agree on society's priorities, we can buy into them, and attempt to change them within a coherent and inclusive policymaking environment.

In short, we need to target outcomes; outcomes that are meaningful to ordinary people. That's where Social Policy Bonds can enter the picture. Yes, they channel market forces into the achievement of social outcomes - which makes them efficient. But as important is that they focus our boundless human ingenuity on things that matter: all the broad components that make up social and environmental well-being. We can do better nowadays than to hope that 'success' will appear as a by-product of the targets pursued by a motley array of corporations, politicians and other interest groups.

  • I've been updating the SocialGoals.com website. Comments or suggestions, on this or any other aspect of Social Policy Bonds, are welcomed.
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