Wellbeing Framework 2023

Wellbeing Framework 2023

Framework highlights problems as well as success, Green Party’s Ó Cathasaigh warns

Green Party TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh has cautiously welcomed today’s publication of Ireland’s Wellbeing Framework for 2023 but warned the framework raises questions around the dangers of short-term economic gain at the expense of our environment and our health.

The Government began work on a Wellbeing Framework in 2021 at the request of the Green Party which has long argued that the State needs to move beyond economic measurement to assess our progress as a country. Under the framework, other measures such as mental and physical health, housing, the environment, safety and security are also analysed to evaluate our success as a nation at a much deeper level.

This year’s framework paints a relatively positive picture across a number of headings but it sounds a warning bell about the state of our environment, climate and biodiversity. Other problems highlighted include our emissions, water quality and generation of waste.

“The Green Party has pushed for the development of the Wellbeing Framework as we have long been critical of the inadequacies of traditional measures such a GDP in assessing the health of society,” Deputy Ó Cathasaigh said.

“GDP simply fails to take into account the environmental cost of growth. It is no good celebrating rising economic activity if our people, our wildlife and our plants are poisoned in the process. It is no good measuring GDP if our people are unhappy or ill. We all know we are so much more than an economy but we sometimes forget this because of an obsessive focus on one crude measure. We are increasingly aware that GDP doesn’t give good insight into the emotional or physical wellbeing of the people in our society and is blind to the damage we cause to the natural world when we chase infinite economic growth,” he added.

While the data on Ireland’s environmental performance mostly predates the Green Party’s time in Government, it underlined the enormous effort that will be required to transform Ireland from a laggard to leader in European terms.

“The framework clearly shows that we have a long way to go yet before we successful decouple our understanding of what constitutes economic success from the over-exploitation of our natural resources,” he said.

“We must ensure that these results are used to inform better policy making to deliver a better quality of life across all indicators and not just financial wealth. Without a happy, healthy population and a robust and vibrant environment, our economy and society itself are doomed to fail.”