Wellbeing pioritised over GDP by Iceland

Iceland has put wellbeing ahead of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in its latest budget and its prime minister has urged other countries to follow suit.

Katrin Jakobsdottir, prime minister of Iceland has teamed up with Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish first minister and Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand to promote a “wellbeing” agenda.

Ms Jakobsdottir explained how new social indicators are needed besides GDP data. In 2019, New Zealand became the first country to pass a government budget based on wellbeing, the budget included supporting mental health, reducing family violence and supporting businesses to transition to a low-carbon economy.

Ms Jakobsdottir said:

It’s about how you prioritise in the public budget – you can always have an emphasis on wellbeing.

Iceland uses more anti-depressants than neighboring countries. We need to strengthen prevention of depression, through sports and the arts.

The Icelandic prime minister also explained how developing countries “need to take a leap” to embrace renewable energy.

Ms Sturgeon at a TED talk in August 2019 said how collective wellbeing not GDP should be the most important measure of a country’s success.

Ms Jakobsdottir made the point that as this movement is being headed by three women does not mean this is gender based.

Ms Jakobsdottir said:

It’s very important to have all genders at the table – it affects the way you think, and then different decisions are made.