New compasses have been experimented for more than 30 years in many places all over the world. The aim being to create indicators that take into account elements that were missing within economic statistics. For the first time in Europe, scientists, activists, civil society and officials come together to share their views and debate on new ways of measuring wealth in the Forum for Well Being, from June 6th to 8th, in Grenoble, France.
“We are more used to a well-having forum”, The international event started with this welcome slab of humor thanks to Cled’12, a French cartoonist that will follow the conference in the next three days.
This morning, the participants were welcomed by the organizers: the University of Grenoble-Alpes, FAIR, the CCFD-Terre Solidaire, the city of Grenoble and the Grenoble Alpes Métropole. After expressing their gratitude to the ones who made the event possible, Grégoire Feyt, vice-president of the University, highlighted the originality of the meeting. “To measure what matters is in itself a scientific issue […] The university aims at developing critical minds and bringing knowledge to serve well-being”.
Cled’12’s drawing echoes the Forum for other Indicators of Wealth (FAIR) motto: “to go from a society of lot-having for a few, towards a society of well-being for all”. In the opening session, FAIR’s co-president Célina Whitaker emphasized on the importance to collectively define what matters, given that indicators also tell a story. Moreover, the next days in Grenoble will allow us to learn about different visions that can feed our thoughts and actions.
The Forum was organized by a nonprofit organization, the CCFD Terre Solidaire, represented by its president, Sylvie Bukhari de Pontual. The emergency to change our models of measuring development is the guideline for the strategies CCFD is implementing at a global scale.
Their aim is to shake up political status quo and positions and encourage mindsets to evolve, therefore their vision goes beyond the Forum itself. According to CCFD, change will come from civil society members organizing through local and global networks. That’s why the organization invited partners from over 35 countries, including Brazil, Burma, Lao PDR, South Africa, Cuba, Thailand, Bolivia and Timor. Therefore, the event is a place for activists to get to know each other in a burst of creativity and energy!
Two officials were also here to represent the implication of local political authorities. The mayor of Grenoble, Eric Piolle, depicted a very unequal society. “We need to find new indicators enabling us to culturally share a collective imaginary and to make sure that we are caring for all living beings”, he said.
Grenoble, as a city that is already experimenting an alternative indicator (called IBEST – Indicator of Territorialized Sustainable Well-Being), is a meaningful place to host the first European forum. Finally, Christophe Ferrari, President of Grenoble Alpes Métropole, hopes for the Forum to be a trigger to a new dynamic for months and years to come. “We have, here, a responsibility: to be pioneers and to use this sounding board to convey a message to build this much-needed new model of development.”
At the end of the opening session, the organizers thanked the 800 participants, among whom 70% are citizens and not economic experts, besides the 130 people who offered to contribute promoting 70 workshops). Going beyond numbers, the speakers asked the audience to get involved in “human statistics”!
Concretely, the participants were asked to stand up whenever they agreed with the following propositions: You work with indicators everyday / you are angry at numbers, you know how to calculate GDP / You think we need to act at the individual level / We can find a common model of development at a global scale / We cannot count what really matters.
Each of these propositions created a lot of movement among members of the audience, showing that even in this room people had different point of views about the ways to go towards well-being. This allows us to expect quite lively debates in the next three days! Other possibilities are opened to further encourage participation of individuals: sharing thoughts by writing on the windows, sharing topics to debate that will be chosen by the public, and the “free exchange zones” to keep the debate going after the end of the workshops!