The newly released “Well-being In Vanuatu” analysis report examines life quality through profiles of happiness, access, knowledge, physical health, and social resilience. The comprehensive report illustrates the diverse conditions conducive to living a good life in Vanuatu – insights that are valuable for communities, local authorities, and national policy and decision-makers.
It is truly an historic milestone for Vanuatu to see well-being indicators mainstreamed into the activities of the Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO).
As we all know, using Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to measure Vanuatu’s development progress is not realistic for a dual economy like Vanuatu because it cannot measure the “custom economy”, which still remains the main economy in the country in terms of sustaining people’s lives.
Finally, after 40 years of Independence, we are starting to measure our development as a nation in terms of what exists in reality – and what we value – by including indicators that measure the “custom economy” and incorporate “Melanesian values” into the national policy arena.
The “Well-being In Vanuatu” report is the work of several years of planning, fieldwork, data processing and analysis following the 2016 Mini Census that attempts to look at well-being more holistically, framing it around topics of happiness, access, knowledge, health, and social resilience. Some of the indicators developed in the “Alternative Indicators of Well-Being for Melanesia” pilot study from 2010-2012 have become key monitoring and evaluation indicators for the National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP), securing their collection through to 2030.
Many indicators that are now prominent in the Vanuatu development framework are relatable across the Pacific. If the work Vanuatu is doing can help influence other countries in the Pacific to be more concerned with the well-being of their people rather than focused on endless GDP growth, that is the future we want to see. A future with balanced and well-being centred governance and development.