BRinging Alternative INdicators into POLicy (BRAINPOOL)
BRAINPOoL – a project funded by the European Commission through its FP7 research programme – is one of several initiatives designed to advance this process. More specifically it is designed to work with two key groups. First, it will help the users of quantitative data – policymakers, journalists, NGOs, members of political parties and informal social networks - to specify what will best help them achieve their goals and then to use that effectively. Typically the data will be indicators, although sometimes users will create their own indicators from data raw material. Second, it will help the suppliers of these data meet the needs of users in the way they design, and communicate about, what they produce.
Context and approach
There is an increasing consensus that the world needs a new kind of dynamic economy: one that more effectively delivers human well-being, is more equitable and more sustainable than the economy we have had over the last 30 to 40 years. This suggests that policy, and in particular economic policy, needs to be guided by a more focused set of indicators than is currently available. For the existing set does not discriminate adequately between the kind of growth we have had in the past, and the more effective kind of change we want to see in the future. This was the thinking that led to initiatives to encourage new indicators such as the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress led by Professors Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi (the ‘SSF Commission’), the OECD’s Measuring Progress of Societies and Better Life Initiative, the EC’s GDP and Beyond and to numerous national initiatives.
However in the two years since publication of the SSF Commission’s report it has become increasingly clear that while there are many ‘Beyond GDP’ indicators, they are not yet being used to guide policymaking in the way more traditional indicators are. As Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD has written: “Developing better measures is … a means to enhance policies that improve people’s lives. Statistics… need to be combined with a robust understanding and analysis of how the outcomes that these indicators measure respond to policy interventions” which in turn requires “greater discussion amongst policy makers and the general public”. This process has started, for example the UK government is proposing to use subjective well-being measures in policy making and is encouraging debate, but there is a still a long way to go – and in particular there is need for a much wider public discussion.
The BRAINPOoL project approaches this problem as a mismatch between demand and supply and aims to solve this via action research and knowledge brokerage activities. This is done by:
• Structuring the research reservoir on Beyond GDP indicators;
• Increasing the understanding of the user context of Beyond GDP indicators;
• Stimulating and improving user-producer interactions;
• Consolidating and structuring a follow-up beyond the duration of BRAIN POoL
Throughout the project linkages will be established with relevant target groups, such as policy makers on different levels, statistical offices, and planning agencies.
The project falls into three main stages. In the first stage we will review the indicators and other statistics available, the ways and contexts in which they are used and their promoters intend them to be used, and the technical, organisational and political parameters which determine their success. We will also take steps to link our work with other similar initiatives. This will involve desk research, liaison with others working in the field (official and civil society bodies, academics), interviews and seminars. In the second stage we will work with a selection of indicator and statistics suppliers and policy agencies (at supra-national, national, regional and local levels) to identify how indicators and statistics can be used more effectively. This will include action research on some live policy cases, and knowledge brokering, with participants discussing their experiences and drawing conclusions in a structured way. In the third stage we will disseminate the results to a still wider group, through a final report, modular communications packages, a final conference and an on-line tool. The project started in October 2011 and completes in March 2014.We would very much welcome wide involvement and comments on the methodology.
BRAINPOOL is an FP7 (EU Commission) funded collaorative research project. The project is coordinated by TNO (DELFT) and involves also the following partners :
- New Economics Foundation, Samaah Abdallah and Charles Seaford
- ERASMUS UNIVERSITEIT ROTTERDAM , Jurian Edelenbos
- UNIVERZITA KARLOVA V PRAZE , Tomas Hak
- UNIVERSITE DE TOULOUSE II - 'LE MIRAIL ' , Léa Séabstien
- WORLD FUTURE COUNCIL STIFTUNG , Maja Göpel
EU-Commission, DG RTD, FP7