In the face of climate change and growing inequality, our current way of measuring economic success is unfit. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is not designed to support human and planetary thriving. It fails to inform decision-makers how sustainable our economies really are.

The Common Good Product (CGP) is a new innovative measure that can be used by policymakers and societies to overcome these limitations. Instead of endless growth on a limited planet, it aims at increasing the wellbeing of people and nature. It shifts the focus of success measurement from the means to the goals. 

What is the Common Good Product (CGP)?

The Common Good Product (CGP) is an economic instrument that measures the achievement of core values of a society and progress made towards economic goals derived from these values. The societal goals are defined democratically through a citizens’ assembly or economic convention. A core principle of the ECG movement is participation. Thus, people can submit their proposals for the most relevant areas to be measured to gauge the quality of life, wellbeing for all, and the common good in a participatory process. Of all these proposals, for instance, the top 20 are included in the final CGP. Examples could be zero poverty, biodiversity, trust and security, health and good education, or climate neutrality.

The CGP is an easy-to-understand participatory instrument that works on a municipal, regional and national level. The CGP can be perfectly combined with other projects and other activities of the Economy for the Common Good, such as the Common Good Balance Sheet or Common Good Region (see 10 prototypes).

How does CGP change our economy?

  • Economic activities focus on the wellbeing of people and nature

  • We are measuring the common good instead of financial growth

  • We have a value-based compass for economic activities

  • We incentivize responsible and meaningful business

  • We create the potential for effective environmental and climate policy

  • We are able to prevent further social and environmental crises

  • More sustainable and fair products

  • Sustainability innovations and creativity are encouraged

Why is GDP problematic?

What grows when GDP grows is not necessarily organic grain, food security, affordable housing, meaningful work, healthy ecosystems, or even love and peace. GDP growth is little more than an aggregation of market transactions measured in monetary terms, such as the production and sale of food and drinks, airplanes, facility cleaning, business consultation or weapons production, regardless of whether they contribute to human wellbeing and health of the planet or not. The GDP aims at increasing growth, regardless of planetary boundaries and thus at the cost of future generations.

The GDP measures:

  • Production of goods and services

  • Sustainability

  • Quality of life

  • Non-market transactions

  • Income inequality

  • Human rights

  • Contributions to society

The CGP measures:

  • Everything that really matters to people

APPLYING THE CGP

State of affairs: first prototypes

  • Spain: The first European municipality that approved a process toward a Common Good Index with the involvement of its citizens is the Andalusian village Guarromán. The process is currently underway.
  • Germany: In Münster, citizens are working towards a district CGP. In two “Hansa convents” in June and October 2019, they decided on 20 values and goals to be included in the Common Good Product. Minden, another German city, also organized a citizen convention in 2019 with a broad range of stakeholders. In Marburg, a proposal for a “local happiness index” is currently debated, based on ECG principles.

ECG provides support and guidance for cities, regions, and national governments who are interested in working with CGP.

Developments around the world to replace or complement GDP

  • Gross National Happiness (Bhutan): In the Himalayan state of Bhutan, surveys of the population on well-being and happiness are conducted at regular intervals. Criteria include neighborhood relationships, times for meditation, health, peace both inside and outside.
  • Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership (WEGo): Four female prime ministers – of Iceland, Scotland, Finland and New Zealand – are officially seeking a more suitable successor to gross domestic product (GDP) for measuring wellbeing. They are developing alternative sets of indicators, including GDP only as one indicator among many.
  • Citizen assemblies have been established in Ireland (abortion), Germany (democracy), and France (climate protection).
  • Better Life Index (OECD): The OECD has developed an indicator to visualize and compare some of the key factors for well-being like education, housing, environment, and so on. You can explore the index here
  • SDGs (UNO): The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The 17 SDGs are integrated—they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability.