What matters to you?

Since 2011, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has undertaken research within OECD member countries which compared wellbeing across the world. The Better Life Index, which resulted from the project, depicts the results in the form of ‘flowers’ in which each flower depicts a country, and each petal represents a topic. Although visually very appealing, one should approach the data with caution, because it is based on voluntarily-submitted data, which means the participants are self-selected. Therefore, the results indicated in the Better Life Index are not necessarily representative of the views of the global population, and indeed, could be argued to represent mainly those with an internet connection.

Nevertheless, the OECD has extracted further data from the Better Life Index study, and developed an interactive map illustrating ‘What matters most to people around the world.’ Among those in OECD countries that have used the tool, health narrowly beats general life satisfaction as the topic people identify as most important to them. Although interesting to browse through, I’d argue two caveats whilst looking at the map: firstly, some of the terms used to define the parameters are rather vague, for instance, “life satisfaction”; and secondly, the number of respondents varies greatly from country to country.

The ‘What Matters to you?’ map makes for a thought-provoking point of reference when one considers that later this year in September 2015, the UN will meet to finalise the new framework for global development priorities 2015-2030. This week the ‘zero draft of the outcome document‘ was published of 17 goals and 169 targets. The accompanying image on the left (which you can click on for larger legible version) illustrates a more user-friendly summary of the overall framework. On a personal note, I am disappointed to see no mention made of the educational needs of those with disabilities and/or those living in war-ravaged countries. I fear the danger of a whole generation of children growing up amongst strife, not being given educational opportunities in any form, so as to enable them to break to vicious cycle of poverty or the state of civic unrest within which they live.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with the results depicted in OECD research? Do you think UN goals and targets reflect global (not just OECD member countries’) priorities? Do you think that 17 targets and 169 goals are enough to meet the needs of over 7 billion people? What matters to you?

Saneeya Qureshi © 2015