The Islander editorial – novel ideas for our Island

There was a fascinating “Science in the Pub” talk at the Ozone Hotel last Wednesday about alternative ways of running an economy or at least a different way of thinking of what is best for a community such as Kangaroo Island.

Organised by the good folk at Natural Resources KI, the talk featured speakers Professor Robert Costanza and Associate Professor Dr Ida Kubiszewski, both from the Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University.

Eminent ecological economist Prof Constanza and Dr Kubiszewski both discussed emerging global thinking on measuring prosperity and well-being.

The topic for the night was “How do we build consensus to design the future we want?”

So rather than the typical and broadly accepted Gross Domestic Product or GDP that simply measures market value of all final goods and services produced, which is the standard measure of economic success, it was suggested a better measure for success and well-being was Genuine Progress Indicator or GPI.

This is also takes into account environmental and social factors in an economy, such as the cost of on the natural world of implementing a development, and also factors not typically measured by GDP such as volunteering and taking care of family.

It was suggested in the discussion that Kangaroo Island would be a great case study where some of the social and environmental factors were taken into account when measuring the success of individuals and the Island’s economy as whole.

Australia ranks fairly highly in terms of overall happiness and I would suggest for most of us that is even more true on Kangaroo Island, largely because of the beautiful natural environment and lack of negative social issues such as crime and poverty.

Mayor Peter Clements was at the talk and he and others were critical of the GDP system that put all the wealth in the hands of very few.

To keep this happiness level topped up, we should fight against increased population, big corporate and industrial developments that hold false promise of employment and instead focus on local business, farming, aquaculture and tourism operations that will keep us happy long into the future. We, like the country of Bhutan, should put the Gross National Happiness Index ahead of GDP. – Stan Gorton