Social (and cultural) sustainability

Social and cultural sustainability concerns issues regarding people’s opportunities to fulfil their potential. Depending on where in the world we live and at what stage in our lives we are, our needs look different. It may concern freedom of religion or finding balance in life in a developed society. It may concern the possibility to educate ourselves, or to provide for ourselves or to live in peace.

Our definition of social and cultural sustainability

At the University of Gävle, our definition of social and cultural sustainability means the following:The social and economic life today and in the future fulfil basic human needs like for example self-provision, social justice, health, education, culture, religion, peace, human rights, balance in life and a long-term processes, shaping social conditions for future generations.

Human development Index (HDI)

Human development Index (HDI) is a measure which summarises key dimensions for human development, as a supplement to the 17 global sustainable development goals of the United Nations.

  • a long and healthy life (life expectancy)
  • being knowledgeable (expected years of schooling)
  • having a decent standard of living (purchasing power per capita and Gross National Income)

Happy Planet Index

The Happy Planet Index is a version of the Human Development Index. It builds on statistics regarding life expectancy, experienced wellbeing and ecological footprint. This how it is described on their webpage:

“Wellbeing indicates how satisfied the residents of each country say they feel with life overall, on a scale from zero to ten, based on data collected as part of the Gallup World Poll.

  • Life expectancy: The average number of years a person is expected to live in each country based on data collected by the United Nations.
  • Inequality of outcomes: The inequalities between people within a country, in terms of how long they live, and how happy they feel, based on the distribution in each country’s life expectancy and wellbeing data. Inequality of outcomes is expressed as a percentage.
  • Ecological Footprint: The average impact that each resident of a country places on the environment, based on data prepared by the Global Footprint Network. Ecological Footprint is expressed using a standardized unit: global hectares (gha) per person.

The Happy Planet Index tells us how well nations are doing at achieving long, happy, sustainable lives.

Wealthy Western countries, often seen as the standard of success, do not rank highly on the Happy Planet Index. Instead, several countries in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region lead the way by achieving high life expectancy and wellbeing with much smaller Ecological Footprints.

The Happy Planet Index provides a compass to guide nations, and shows that it is possible to live good lives without costing the Earth."

Read more about the Happy Planet Index

Published by: Inger Helldal Page responsible: Gunilla Mårtensson Updated: 2020-06-01
Högskolan i Gävle
Box 801 76 GÄVLE
026-64 85 00 (växel)