Wealth is, simply put, the sum total of the assets we own as a society. It is important because it represents the resources we have at hand today to ensure that social and economic activities continue in the future. For this reason, measures of wealth provide an important lens through which to regard future prospects for well-being.
In the past, wealth was defined to include only produced and financial assets. In recent years, however, our understanding has broadened considerably and it is now defined to also include natural, human and social capital. Collectively, these five asset categories have come to be known as 'comprehensive wealth'. Each is important in its own right because each is an input into the broad “societal production function” for well-being.
A key question is whether the size of the comprehensive wealth portfolio is growing over time. If it is, then national development is likely sustainable and well-being should be stable or increasing. If it isn’t, development is on an unsustainable path and well-being will certainly decline at some point. This is why measures of comprehensive wealth are increasingly understood to be crucial to assessing societal progress.
The principal objective of the comprehensive wealth project is to encourage governments to move “beyond GDP” as the fundamental measure of societal progress they report on and use in policy planning. After first preparing and carefully communicating a report measuring comprehensive wealth in Canada, this project is expanding to countries around the world to help shift the focus of the public and governments toward a more balanced perspective on progress.
Canadians Deserve Decision-Making Based on More than GDP
If Canadians (or citizens anywhere) want well-being to continue for their children and grandchildren, the country’s comprehensive wealth must be sustained.
Forget GDP – for the 21st Century We Need a Modern Growth Measure
Our radar to track progress is far from satisfactory.
Comprehensive Wealth in Canada 2018 – Measuring What Matters in the Long Term
Comprehensive wealth measures the country’s produced, natural, human, financial and social capital.
Comprehensive Wealth in Canada: IISD's report launch
On December 1, 2016, IISD publicly released a report on measuring Comprehensive Wealth, an innovative approach, never before undertaken in Canada, to measuring wealth that looks beyond merely GDP.
Raisons pour lesquelles nous devrions nous inquiéter à propos de la richesse du Canada
In a French-language blog post, Scott Vaughan and Robert Smith explain why we need to reconsider how we measure wealth in Canada.
Comprehensive Wealth in Canada—Measuring what matters in the long run
This report seeks to introduce the concept of comprehensive wealth to Canadians and outline why it should be considered an essential complement to the other measures such as gross domestic product.
Economics and Sustainability: IISD begins work to measure Canada's wealth and continues to examine models used to count the economic costs of climate change
The Ivey Foundation has funded IISD to prepare an inclusive wealth report for Canada. This one-page document outlines the issue, and describes what the report will look like, and what its purpose is.
You might also be interested in
Task Force for a Resilient Recovery
With ideas from Canada and around the world, our Task Force aims for a resilient recovery—one that delivers good jobs, is positive for the environment, and addresses inequality.
AquaHacking Lake Winnipeg
We are challenging young innovators to team up and develop new and innovative solutions to tackle urgent freshwater issues.
Peg is a community indicator system that has been developed for Winnipeg by Winnipeggers, led by a community-wide consortium of partners spearheaded by IISD and United Way of Winnipeg.
Scientists from Two Continents Working Together to Improve the Health of the African Great Lakes
World-class scientists and researchers from across North America and Africa are putting their heads together to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing the African Great Lakes today.