Wellbeing Index: “We needed a framework not cherry-picking”

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Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

“We needed a framework not cherry-picking,” economist Dr Marie Briguglio said during the launch of the Wellbeing Index. The index which will serve as a repository of information to guide policymakers in ensuring the wellbeing of Malta, was launched on Thursday morning coinciding with World Human Rights Day.

During the launch economist Dr Marie Briguglio explained that Thursday’s event is a public commitment for the upcoming three years which followed upon a national conference organised by the then-President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society in 2015.

She explained that this index would pave the way for regular and robust national wellbeing statistics — beyond the Gross Domestic Product — and seed research on the wellbeing of different segments of society to guide policies.

Dr Briguglio stressed that the Gross Domestic Product is only a partial indicator, as she explained that there have been several calls throughout the years to take into accounts other factors and indicators which would give a more holistic view of society other than the GDP. The Wellbeing Index is a framework which is needed over cherry picking different indicators to be able to understand how the nation is doing, Dr Brigulio underlined.

The Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society is undertaking the three-year project on the qualitative and quantitative measurement of wellbeing in line with its ethos.

Similar calls were made by various organisations, including the Environment and Resources Authority and the Commission for Peace and Justice, Dr Briguglio pointed out, adding that foundation hopes that through today’s launch they were giving a voice to this call.

The Wellbeing Index is not an exercise in reinventing the wheel, with researches looking into different institutions which have already developed such indicators on an international level. Researchers will then apply the indices already in use to adapt them to the local scenario.

The project does not only consist of gathering data but has also a strong element of networking and an outreach to stakeholders.

The deliverables of the project over the next three years include the analysis of existing wellbeing data, a report on the state of the art, a dashboard of wellbeing indicators for Malta, instruments to gather data among adults and children, data collection among children and adults, an advisory board consisting of researchers and stakeholders networks, and outreach.

The project is set to be a holistic one which includes children and adults among its data gathering and recommendations.

Children’s wellbeing

During the launch, Professor Carmel Cefai, spoke about children’s wellbeing and how this should be taken into account. Children should not be viewed as miniature adults, Prof. Cefai said, noting how sometimes the child’s wishes do not always coincide with that of the adults.

He explained that as part of this index, an index adapted to the reality of children in Malta will be developed.

“Researchers assisting the state to improve quality of life

Rector Professor Alfred Vella highlighted the importance of research during his address on Thursday.

He noted that with this project, researchers at the University of Malta will be assisting the state to improve the quality of life of the Maltese population through the research it conducts which will be then reflected in the government’s policy.

President Emeritus Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca explained how the day of the launch was chosen to coincide with Human Rights Day.

She explained that differences persist among different groups and this was not only limited to income but encompassed a variety of areas. The former president said that the foundation believes in a society which seeks to be fair, just and ecofriendly, and where people can adopt a sustainable lifestyle. She added that this was not the only initiative being undertaken by the foundation for the wellbeing of society.

The Wellbeing Index was launched during a press conference in Parliament by Speaker of the House Anġlu Farrugia. The project is a collaboration between the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society and the University of Malta.