By Daniel Hunter

Sweden is the most socially advanced country globally according to a new index released at the Skoll World Forum, the premier international platform for accelerating entrepreneurial approaches and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social issues.

Britain is ranked second, above Germany, which ranks fifth, the United States, sixth, and Japan, eighth. The Social Progress Index, which ranked 50 countries by their social and environmental performance, was designed by Professor Porter and The Social Progress Imperative. They are working in collaboration with economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and
leading international organisations in social entrepreneurship, business, philanthropy, and academia including Cisco, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL), Skoll Foundation, Fundación AVINA, and Compartamos Banco.

The Social Progress Index is distinctive for being based entirely on social and environmental measures covering basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing and opportunity. The Index shows where nations should focus their efforts to improve the wellbeing of their people. It uses a rigorous statistical technique and data from internationally recognised sources, including the World Bank and the World Health Organization.

“The ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011 and the challenges in Mexico over the last decade, have illustrated the shortcomings of economic growth as a proxy for social progress”, said Professor Porter. “In both business and economic development, our understanding of success has been incomplete.

“Previous efforts to go beyond economic measurement alone have laid important groundwork, but we need a more holistic, comprehensive, and rigorous approach. The Social Progress Index is an attempt to address these gaps and opportunities.

“Social progress depends on the policy choices, investments, and implementation capabilities of multiple stakeholders — government, civil society, and business. Action needs to be catalysed at country level. By informing and motivating those stakeholders to work together and develop a more holistic approach to development, I am confident that social progress will accelerate.”

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