What is the best way to assess a nation’s prosperity, not just today but into the future? Growing concerns about climate change, rising inequality, unsustainable resource use, and destruction of nature highlight the need for new economic tools to ensure development is sustainable, resilient, and inclusive. Gross domestic product (GDP), the conventional measure of economic progress, overlooks many vital aspects of nature, sustainability and human development. Wealth accounting offers a powerful way to look ‘beyond GDP’ for a more comprehensive view of the sustainability of growth. As a leader in this field, the World Bank’s Changing Wealth of Nations 2021 report provides an updated database and rich analysis of the world’s wealth accounts spanning 146 countries from 1995 to 2018. It contains the widest set of assets covered so far, including the value of human capital broken down by gender, as well as many different forms of natural capital, including forests, cropland, mangroves, marine fisheries minerals, and fossil fuels.
How can wealth accounting improve our understanding of economic sustainability? Can it help countries address the challenges posed by climate change and the low-carbon transition? Can wealth accounting serve as a way for countries to move ‘beyond GDP’?
On October 28, the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings and the World Bank co-hosted a panel of leading experts on these issues. The discussion was moderated by author and Financial Times Africa Editor David Pilling. Panelists discussed the implications of new measurement approaches and the limits of GDP for encouraging sustainable development.
Viewers submitted questions via email to email@example.com or on Twitter using #CWON2021.