Maximization of ‘Gross National Happiness’ (GNH) is the ultimate goal of development in Bhutan, as measured by the GNH Index. But how to translate the GNH vision into practice? The Government has decided to screen all policy and programme proposals for their effects on happiness.
Bhutan has officially adopted “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) as its development philosophy, and the GNH Index as its official statistic to measure development over time.
Refusing to define development exclusively in material terms, the Bhutanese rather emphasize the need to secure a harmonious balance between the physical, social, spiritual, psychological and cultural well-being of individuals.
The GNH Index has captured the world’s attention, but the ‘real test’ will be to operationalize the GNH, as explained by the researchers who constructed the Index: “GNH indicators as targets are offering us a direction for our programmes and policies which is coherent with the values of GNH. However, we need other tools to help us manoeuvre towards GNH targets, tools that will allow us to know before approving a proposal whether we are actually advancing in the right direction.”
The OGC was recently on mission in Bhutan to support the GNH Commission and the Centre of Bhutan Studies in developing ‘screening tools’ to help policymakers better plan for happiness. The main objective of these tools is to systematically assess the intended and unintended effects of policies and programmes on key determinants of GNH, such as equity, biodiversity, family time, and stress levels. The GNH Impact Matrixes will also help design mitigation measures to address the possible negative effects of an intervention, and identify additional monitoring data needs to keep track of those GNH dimensions which might be ‘at risk’ in the course of policy implementation.
The Global Programme is also supporting the GNH Commission in developing official guidelines on how Ministries should use the screening tools to issue ‘GNH clearance’ prior to submitting proposals to the GNH Commission. Upon reviewing those, the Commission can establish an independent ‘GNH Task Force’ if it wishes to seek a second opinion on the expected effects of a proposal on the overall happiness of the population.
One of Africa's biggest oil producers, Angola is also one of the world's poorest countries. It is striving to tackle the physical, social and political legacy of the 27-year civil war that ravaged the country after independence. Within this context the issue of decentralization is at the top of the Angolan Government's reform agenda.
Angola enacted the Local Administration Decree in 1999, providing a detailed framework for deconcentration and has since highlighted decentralization in the principles approved for the future Angolan Constitution.
Moreover, the country has recently approved Decree 2/07 which paves the way for further decentralization as selected municipalities become increasingly responsible for their budgets. Decentralization, however, remains a complex process that requires challenging human and institutional reforms to. There is broad consensus that improved monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems at the local level can enable better budget and planning processes, service delivery, community participation and overall strengthen governance at the local level.
As part of a larger decentralization project between the Government of Angola and UNDP; UNDP Angola and Oslo Governance Centre is helping build the capacity of 15 municipal administrations to conduct systematic democratic governance assessment at the local level.
The Project seeks to strengthen public participation in local governance and development by providing training, coaching, mentoring and establishing systems and procedures for data collection, analysis and dissemination. The main purpose is to strengthen local administration capacity for policy making based on governance evidence.
The immediate objective is to support the design and use of a municipal governance assessment tool, which monitors the development of governance capacities and pro-poor oriented performance assessment.
The Global Programme on Democratic Governance Assessments recently launched a mission to Luanda to conduct a training of provincial and municipal stakeholders.
A work in progress, ‘democracy’ is never a finished product, but rather an unfolding process that requires continuous engagement by citizens. For the 2010 bicentennial celebration of independence, a coalition of think tanks from a broad spectre of the Chilean political landscape aims to strengthen this engagement by assessing the state of democracy in Chile.
The celebration of 200 years of independence offers an opportune moment for a debate that is visionary, broad-based and consensus building on where Chile want to be in the near, and not so near future.
During the past two decades, Chile has consolidated its political stability, maintained high levels of economic growth and made significant strides towards improving the living conditions of its population. While in 1980 the country had a Human Development Index of 0.747, today it measures 0.874 placing it 40th in the world in terms of human development. Moreover, since the mid 1980s, Chile’s economy has grown at an average rate of 5 percent per year. This has led to a dramatic reduction in poverty rates—from 40 percent in 1990 to 13.7 percent in 2006.
A variety of cross-sectional and survey data indicate that Chile has successfully reduced poverty, targeted its social policies, and increased household well-being over the past decade. Thus, Chile is successfully achieving the Millennium Development Goals. In the meantime, the country has also made significant inroads towards strengthening its state apparatus to deliver public policies and political institutions, achieving consistent political stability during the past few decades. The 2004 UNDP report “Democracy in Latin America: Towards a Citizen’s Democracy”, includes Chile among the countries that had made the most advances towards strengthening electoral institutions and procedures.
However, despite the many achievements, and its well-recognized democratic stability, Chile faces growing citizen’s disenchantment with democracy, low levels of legitimacy of key democratic institutions, decreasing electoral participation –particularly among youth- persistent exclusion of women and indigenous population of elected positions, as well as other problems relating to its political institutional framework.
With the support of the UNDP Oslo Governance Centre and International IDEA; the project aims to establish the foundations and developing a governance assessment in Chile through a multi-stakeholder nationally driven process. By strengthening national capacities it will help government and non-government actors to identify, map and analyze key challenges facing governance in Chile today and advance policy reform in the areas of political parties, electoral reform and political regime.
The project will be executed by UNDP Chile in coordination with a consortium of four national Think Tanks (CIEPLAN, CEP, Libertad & Desarrollo and Projectamerica) representative of a broad ideological spectrum and will seek to foster inclusive participation of other social and political sectors with a particular emphasis on historically marginalized groups such as women and indigenous communities.
The workshop in Cairo (1-4 June 2009) on Assessment Methods and Applications of Governance Evidence was organized in response to a growing demand for more operational tools to assess governance in service delivery. Several countries supported by the Global Programme on Democratic Governance Assessments have proposed to link their governance assessment to the national strategy to achieve the Millennium Development Goals or other human development targets.
The workshop presented a wide range of tools for assessing the quality, efficiency and fairness of service provision in sectors such as water & sanitation and health.
The workshop was co-hosted by the Social Contract Centre, a unit in the Information and Decision support Centre (IDSC), the Egyptian Cabinet’s think tank officially mandated with monitoring the implementation of 55 MDG based programmes. In Egypt the strategy to achieve the MDGs is based on rolling out 55 programmes of service delivery. With the support of the Global Programme on Democratic Governance Assessments, the Centre is developing an assessment framework which includes both socio-economic and governance indicators. Governance indicators will be used to examine the various reasons behind the lack of progress on MDGs – not only insufficient resources, but also lack of government action, inadequate or discriminatory policies, and unfair or inefficient distribution of resources.
The workshop included sessions on how to assess gender-sensitive service delivery, how to use existing datasets (collected by ministries, the statistical office or other national institutions) to diagnose the reasons behind disparities in the provision of services, and how to assess the risks for corruption in service delivery. Assessment tools currently in use in sectors such as health and water & sanitation were shared with participants. Presentations by countries that have developed their own method for measuring governance included a governance survey designed by the Palestinian Statistical Office, and a local governance assessment tool developed by an Indonesian research outfit. The workshop was attended by country stakeholders and UNDP staff from Egypt, Morocco, Djibouti and Senegal. Workshop agenda and presentations are available here.
As part of the Global Programme on Democratic Governance Assessments the UNDP Oslo Governance Centre in collaboration with the InWEnt Centre for Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics and the Namibian Institute for Democracy are identifying participants working in Sub-Saharan Africa to the workshop entitled "Country-led Governance Assessments: Sharing Experiences and Increasing Political Accountability".
The workshop will take place in Windhoek, Namibia 2-5 November 2009. Deadline for applications is 16 September 2009. Participants will be fully or partially sponsored depending on need and qualifications.
The workshop is designed for producers and users of statistical information on governance, including policymakers, researchers, civil society activists, UNDP staff and others with experience in the field of measuring and monitoring issues of governance, democratization and Human Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The main objective of this workshop is to provide a platform for sharing experiences on conceptual and practical issues and good practices. It is hoped that the workshop will be a catalyst for developing new proposals for conducting governance assessments among participants.
The workshop will discuss issues of monitoring governance as addressed in national development plans, how political economy analysis may assist in developing indicators, participatory monitoring, working with national statistical offices and present country examples. The workshop will seek to provide a menu of tools, practices and options for participants.
There will be an optional web-based preparation phase which will take place 1-30 October, 2009.
For any questions, please contact the manager of the global programme on democratic governance assessments, Joachim Nahem at firstname.lastname@example.org
Funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany and developed by the UNDP Oslo Governance Centre and the German Development Institute, the Users’ Guide on Measuring Fragility presents a comparative analysis of eleven well-known fragility indices, assessing their conceptual premises, methodologies and valid and invalid uses.
The interest in understanding and predicting situations of fragility has grown exponentially amongst research and policy communities in the last years, in parallel to debates around poor governance performance, development challenges and aid effectiveness. As a response to this interest, various fragility indices are periodically published, reflecting a diverse range of interests, purposes and aspirations. Despite the proliferation and ever-increasing use of and reference to these indices, to date no systematic, comprehensive study of such indices has been produced.
The Users’ Guide on Measuring Fragility aims to empower the non-expert user with greater knowledge and critical understanding of fragility indices, addressing key questions regarding the concepts being measured and possible application.
The Guide will be launched in October.
Self-Assessment Tool for Parliamentarians to Monitoring their Performance in Support of UNCAC Implementation
This tool, developed jointly with the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC), will provide suggested indicators for parliamentarians to benchmark their performance in supporting the implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). Assessment results will also be useful for parliamentarians to perform oversight functions more effectively, by highlighting areas where UNCAC provisions have yet to be implemented by their government.
This tool is filling an important gap in the corruption assessment landscape. Although there are many indicator sources on governance and corruption, very few are specifically focused on the actions of parliamentarians towards corruption prevention.
The assessment will provide an opportunity for parliamentarians to partner with national ‘data collectors’ with whom they normally don’t interact much with (such as the National Statistical Office, the National Anti-Corruption Agency, the Supreme Audit Office, the Ombudsman Office, etc.). It will also provide a platform for national consultations to help the government, parliamentarians and other national actors prioritize anti-corruption reform efforts.
The tool will suggest indicators linked to specific UNCAC articles. More specifically, it will be linked to the self-assessment questions listed under a draft ‘checklist’ [linked to attached file] developed by the GOPAC Global Task Force on the UNCAC to help parliamentarians evaluate their contribution to fighting corruption.
Governance Assessment Toolbox for MDG-based Planning and Implementation
This toolbox will introduce simple tools – primarily quantitative, but also integrating some qualitative methods – that could be used by government and other national actors to evaluate, in a given sector, whether quality social services are provided efficiently and equitably, using maximum available resources.
These tools will help diagnose the various reasons behind the lack of progress on MDGs or HD goals – not only insufficient resources, but also lack of government action, inadequate/discriminatory policies, and unfair/inefficient distribution of resources.
This Toolbox therefore could be used both as a policy tool by national policymakers, and as an accountability tool by national oversight institutions (Parliament, National Human Rights Commission, National Anti-Corruption Commission, etc.) to monitor the efforts of government in following through on its MDG/HD commitments.
The Toolbox will not propose any specific indicator sets, but rather will propose ways to draw from existing datasets (i.e. data generally collected by national institutions) to identify what actions are needed to accelerate MDG/HD achievements.
The GAP Newsletter is published quarterly, or "when there is news to tell". It is produced by staff working for the Global Programme on Democratic Governance Assessments, and primarily reports on issues relating to UNDP's work in the area of governance assessments. If you have a good story to tell, please email us at email@example.com