Measuring What Matters: How OECD data can help guide countries to recovery
At the OECD, numbers are our business. For 60 years, we have been one of the world’s most trusted sources of comparative data and analysis, providing knowledge and advice to help countries make evidence-based policy decisions. Banner image: Shutterstock/Red Stock
This article is part of a series in which OECD experts and thought leaders — from around the world and all parts of society — address the COVID-19 crisis, discussing and developing solutions now and for the future.
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It has been a long two years since the novel coronavirus first emerged. We have learned to call it COVID-19 and we have lived through its stunning impact on our health, economies and societies. We have learned to cope with grim statistics of daily infection and mortality rates, excess deaths, and drops and rebounds in employment rates and GDP. It has been hard at times to read the news or listen to the radio or television, in the face of so many negative numbers and heart-breaking stories.
But numbers can also contribute to a recovery that works for people. By keeping track of outcomes that matter for our economies and societies, we can better understand what is happening, what is improving and what challenges remain, what solutions are helping us (or not) to overcome the COVID-19 crisis and address some of the other challenges facing our societies.
Today, as countries start to put in place plans for a strong, sustainable recovery, they are looking to the OECD for tools to help them address structural inequalities, accelerate the green transition and strengthen resilience in the face of future challenges.
At the OECD, numbers are our business. For 60 years, we have been one of the world’s most trusted sources of comparative data and analysis, providing knowledge and advice to help countries make evidence-based policy decisions. In an effort to put our numbers to good use in guiding countries efforts to build back better, the OECD has developed several dashboards of key indicators for the recovery and beyond:
The purpose of the OECD COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard is to avoid mistakes of previous crises and make sure that governments keep a broad set of goals in mind when measuring the success of the recovery. It features 20 indicators grouped in four dimensions that correspond to the priorities that OECD Members collectively set for themselves for the recovery.
The Strong dimension assesses how the pandemic has affected the economic prosperity of households and businesses and monitors the ongoing health crisis and the revival of economic activity. The Inclusive dimension focuses on the impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable, and on whether recovery efforts are creating equal opportunities for all. Reflecting the strong importance we place on overcoming gender inequalities, differences between men and women are considered across the dashboard. The Green dimension focuses on progress towards a green transition, in line with the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda. The Resilient dimension focuses on the factors that can help countries to better withstand the crisis and prepare for future challenges. Looking at these four dimensions together is essential in order to ensure that the recovery is sustainable.
Just as the health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19 have not affected all countries in the same way, its impacts have also been felt differently within countries. To help countries and regions monitor the impact of the pandemic and their progress towards recovery, understand the long-term resilience of regions, identify the recovery policies that regions are implementing, and consider possible future scenarios that might arise from the COVID-19 crisis, we have developed the OECD Regional Recovery Platform. It provides key subnational indicators, accompanied by policy solutions for strengthening regional resilience, particularly in terms of climate change, digitalisation and the acceleration of remote work. It also includes a database of policies currently being implemented to help address the regional impact of COVID-19.
Beyond the recovery, helping countries achieve their long-term climate objectives and a more resilient economy by 2050 is another essential role of the OECD. The International Programme for Action on Climate (IPAC) Dashboard endeavours to provide a balanced snapshot of climate action and progress towards climate goals. The structure of the IPAC Dashboard uses the OECD Pressure-State-Response model adapted to climate change. It focuses on direct pressures (i.e. emissions) and on responses (i.e. actions and opportunities). A few state indicators complete the picture by reflecting some key impacts and risks arising from climate change. The Dashboard is complemented by the Annual Climate Action Monitor, which present a digest of main messages, good practices and results.
All three dashboards are “living” tools whose timeliness, granularity and accuracy are constantly improving. They will continue to evolve and to be refined as new data and approaches to analysis become available, and as new data needs emerge.
Even as these databases are being used to support strong, sustainable recovery, we must remember that behind the data are billions of individuals, each with their own story and COVID-19 experience. The pandemic has reshaped all our lives in unprecedented ways and has touched on every aspect of our well-being, particularly for people and groups already struggling the hardest.
Here, again, the OECD can help.
The OECD Well-being Framework guides our monitoring of trends in current well-being outcomes, inclusion and the sustainability of well-being across member and partner countries. A new OECD report, COVID-19 and Well-being: Life in the Pandemic, presents a rich body of evidence on the impact of the pandemic on our lives, in terms of material conditions, quality of life and community. It also sets out how countries can use a well-being approach to structure their recovery priority-setting process, by providing a framework for systematically scanning evidence—at both the national and regional levels—on current well-being, distributional outcomes and resources for future well-being, in order to identify the areas of greatest need and prioritise them for policy action.
Numbers matter. People matter. And it is by using all the tools at our disposal, all the data and analysis that the OECD can provide, that we can build back better, creating strong, resilient and inclusive economies and societies.
|Tackling COVID-19||Climate||Income Inequality||Gender Equality||Health|