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June 17, 2013

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Governor O’Malley Hosts GPI Summit

by Martha
Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes, Governor O’Malley, Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs; Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes, Governor O’Malley, Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs
Credit: Executive Office of the Governor

Maryland leads the nation in measuring Genuine Progress

Spearheading Maryland’s efforts to engage and share with other states Maryland’s Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) – a measure of statewide wellbeing − Governor Martin O’Malley hosted a summit with leaders from across the nation on June 14 in Baltimore. Maryland is the national leader in the development and use of the GPI, recently announcing that new, 2011 data shows a 2 percent increase over 2010.

“We are at a new era of American progress and prosperity,” said Governor O’Malley. “We have within our power the ability to achieve a rising standard of living, with better educated children, healthier people, more affordable college, a more highly skilled workforce, safer neighborhoods, a more resilient, secure homeland, and a more sustainable balance with nature. With resources such as the GPI, we can continue to make better, more informed choices for a brighter future.”

The summit, Beyond the Great Recession and Beyond GDP: Measuring and Sustaining What Matters in the 21st-Century Economy, brought GPI practitioners and state representatives together to explore how other state governments could apply their own GPI. The event was funded by the Town Creek Foundation through a grant to Demos, a national organization which combines research, policy development and advocacy to influence public debate and catalyze change.

The GPI is one of a host of innovative, interactive tools developed for Maryland citizens under Governor O’Malley’s Smart, Green & Growing Initiative. The GPI, along with a helpful video that explains the indicator, is available on the State’s Smart, Green & Growing website at green.maryland.gov/mdgpi.

“To meet the serious challenges in many of our communities, we need to rethink and reorient how we measure economic performance and social progress,” said Lew Daly, project director at Demos and the summit’s organizer. “Maryland’s leadership in adopting a Genuine Progress Indicator is an important step forward in this direction, and an important precedent for the people of Maryland and leaders across the country.”

The event was attended by influential decision makers from several states including Oregon’s First Lady Cylvia Hayes, administration leaders from Massachusetts, and representatives from 18 other states. Attendees discussed the successes and challenges of the GPI and explored how to best utilize academic, nonprofit and governmental opportunities to develop a cohesive framework.

Governor O’Malley and Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs hosted an open dialogue and interview session, which was moderated by First Lady Hayes. They spoke with state leaders about how they could apply their own GPI and lead the way in alternative measures of progress. This marks the second GPI in the States Summit, with a successful event hosted by Governor O’Malley last year.

“The fact that interest grew from four to twenty states since this past October, shows the significant opportunity and need for a better way to measure the overall health of our community,” said Project Leader Sean McGuire, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Office for a Sustainable Future. “As we face economic, environmental and social challenges, state governments are once again leading the way as laboratories of innovation.”

In September the State updated Maryland’s GPI to include 2011 data. According to these statistics, Maryland’s GPI grew more than 2 percent over the previous year ─ the highest increase since 2005. The results also revealed that total consumer spending increased by 1.58 percent.

Trends suggest Marylanders are experiencing greater overall wellbeing because of two major factors: A decreased cost of underemployment (by $200 million, or 3.6 percent compared to 2010), which means more citizens are working; and a shrink in Maryland’s income inequality gap (by $4 billion, or 2.7 percent), which marks the first time the State has enjoyed a reduced equity gap since 2008.

Maryland was the first state to have officially adopted the GPI, and Governor O’Malley is the first elected official to advocate for its use. Last year, following Maryland’s lead, the state of Vermont passed legislation mandating the calculation, updating and use of its own GPI, and Oregon is now advancing similar framework as they develop long-term planning and policy development.

Governor O’Malley launched the Maryland Genuine Progress Indicator in February 2010. This innovative, online tool allows policymakers and citizens to more accurately measure the State’s standard of living by including indicators of social and environmental health along with traditional economic calculations. Developed by experts from several State agencies, the Governor’s Office and the University of Maryland, the GPI is designed to complement, but not replace, traditional economic measurements, such as the Gross State Product.

In September, Maryland will update its data and once again. The Maryland GPI Working Group will conduct an intensive reevaluation of the data and methodology and recalibrated several of the Indicators, which will result in a change to previous years’ calculations. The group will continue to study and evaluate this data so that the GPI remains as accurate as possible.

For more photos from the summit, click here.

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