RELEASED TODAY: The Social Progress Index Tells Us Way More About Ourselves Than Just Social Progress
As Posted On LinkedIn:
Any of you that track economic development, and the trajectory of advancement around issues like human health, poverty and food security, should be familiar with the Social Progress Index. The Index, formulated in 2014 by the Social Progress Imperative, a brain child of famed Harvard mind Michael Porter, is used too measure and evaluate social progress in our global society on an annual basis. Considering to augment (or perhaps replace if some of us had our way) the current method for measuring social and economic advancement, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Social Progress Index defines social progress as "the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens and communities to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives, and create the conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential."
With its 2018 release today, one can see quite clearly that our path to 100% social progress and full, global potential, is somewhat far off. In fact our own country, one we consider quite advanced in terms of our ability to provide for its people, is ranked 25th. Looking at the results overall, of the 146 countries measured, only 15 have scores above 88. More than 100 are below 79. What this tells us is that we have a lot of work to do to move the needle on issues of importance to our global prosperity. Despite recent reports that poverty, for example, has improved, clearly issues like access to high quality education, technology, or even basic needs like shelter are not completely resolved. Prosperity must innovate along with the rest of development.
The Social Progress Index measures much more than economic prowess or opportunity for growth, however. Looking at issues like personal safety and nutrition along the same axis as access to information and communications, and personal freedom and choice, allows us to see bigger pictures of need. Take the United States for example. Our highest component scores? water, sanitation, nutrition, basic medical care and shelter. Our lowest? Access to advanced education, environmental quality, personal safety and inclusiveness. Our Foundations of Wellbeing Score? Only 84. Looking at the Netherlands, for comparison's sake, is interesting. Ranking in 7th place, the Netherlands had scores above 95 for Basic Human Needs and Foundation of Wellbeing, but only 79 for Opportunity.
Embarking on a path to address each country's needs is critical. The Social Progress Index allows us to unpack each country's most pressing challenges, and work collaboratively to solve them. We stand by to join forces with global companies, governments, entrepreneurs and civil society to collectively improve our planet, one social progress score at a time.
I have the distinct honor of facilitating a panel discussion this Wednesday at the Climate Action Summit, sponsored by the Climate Collaborative and New Hope Network in conjunction with the always anticipated Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore. We’ll discuss innovations around climate impact, translating nascent ideas into action, and how bottom up and top down leadership inspires new and creative ways to think about climate commitments.
When asked to lead this session, it was a no brainer for me. Not just because I love what panelists from Mom’s Organic Market, Organic Valley and Badger Balm are doing, but because I also love the concept of the Climate Collaborative, and view the Natural Products industry as one of the most forward thinking and actionable in the space of partnerships for social and environmental impact.
What better way to encourage the types of partnerships we like to build at Connective Impact, than support collaborations that truly make a difference?
The Climate Collaborative, for example, nary 18 months old, is a coalition of more than 100 manufacturers, retailers, suppliers and other businesses within the natural foods industry “working collaboratively to take bold action to reverse climate change. “ Over time the Collaborative intends to create “big and bold change” from within the natural food products space, which is growing fast, but still makes up only 5% of consumption. Natural and organic food is an 80 billion dollar business, with a bright future and opportunities to make transformational change. What makes the natural foods industry even more attractive, at least in our eyes, is their willingness to partner and collaborate as they have under the Climate Collaborative.
Another example of pre-competitive collaboration can be found in the work of the One Step Closer to an Organic Sustainable Community (OSC2), a group of emerging leaders in the mission-driven natural food products space, including Numi Tea, REBBL, Guyaki, Happy Family and Alter Eco. The group came together in 2012 to create a coalition force for good, building regenerative business models in their farming and agricultural practices. Their focus on regenerative agriculture was the first of its kind, and has made the topic a mainstay within the natural products discussions. It will certainly be a popular session at Expo East this week. The OSC2 has also begun a concerted effort to focus on compostable packaging among its members and others, as well as discussions on the future of food and Drawdown.
Many natural foods brands have engaged in innovative and creative bilateral partnerships to move the needle on social and environmental issues. Chobani, for example, has partnered with some of the biggest brands like Clif Bar (to fund grain research), Save the Children (to focus on underserved youth populations in the U.S. in need of nutrition), and started the Tent Partnership for Refugees to address refugee challenges worldwide. Being proactive in partnership building seems to be a given within the natural products sector. I am so encouraged by this, and when speaking with natural food company leaders, I’m thrilled with how willing and open they are to consider partnerships and collaboration, particularly around some of the more challenging issues these growing companies face. They recognize that by prioritizing sustainability in their operations, they must consider the role of their brands impacting our planet and communities, and that issues like climate change, waste, sustainable energy and other issues many are collaborating around like living wage and gender equity require all of us working together in concert.
Are you a natural product company looking to engage with more partners? Let us know and we’ll swing by your booth to chat. You may find the tools on our website helpful as well.