Developing headline indicators of progress - the UK experience

© Jim Trodel

Despite growing interest in envisaging progress in terms that go beyond economic growth, GDP continues to dominate media and political agendas across Europe. As a result, national governments are too often held to account on this very narrow measure, with unemployment and inflation rates playing lead supporting roles. Having closely tracked the alternative indicators agenda for a number of years, the New Economics Foundation (NEF) believes that now is an opportune moment to promote a succinct dashboard of headline indicators, which can be used to tell the real story of national progress in countries across Europe. The critical issue is how such indicators can achieve public and political traction and therefore influence events.

To address this question we aim to draw on the extensive experience from across the UK – particularly, the work of the Office for National Statistics on its Measuring National Wellbeing programme, plus the activity of devolved adminstrations, including the Scottish Government’s Scotland Peforms framework and Welsh Government’s national indicators within its Wellbeing of Future Generations initiative. The workshop will also examine the work that NEF has been co-ordinating alongside civil society organisations and businesses to identify a very small set of headline indicators with which the public and those trying to influence policy can hold policy makers to account on progress towards a green economy.

The workshop will present an opportunity to reflect on questions such as:

  • How to identify the key domains that a set of headline indicators designed to measure progress towards the green economy should cover
  • How to address the challenges of representing broad and complex domains using a single headline indicator
  • How best to position such a set in relation to GDP, and whether combining the components of the set into a single index which can rival GDP for clarity and impact is useful and meaningful
  • What is needed to maximise the success of such  projects

Throughout the workshop, participants from across Europe will be invited to reflect on the challenges and experiences, and discuss the potential to replicate the UK case studies in their own countries of residence with other experts from the field. They will also be introduced to the Measuring Progress webtool, which has been designed to aid identification and assessment of candidate headline indicators of progress towards the green economy.


Venue: Mary Ward House, 5-7 Tavistock Place, London

For more information, or to reserve a place, please email


Tuesday, 16 June 2015