Jamie Tanguay & Benuel Lenge

Vanuatu National Statistics Office & Vanuatu Government Minister of Justice

Jamie TanguayJamie Tanguay is the coordinator of the Alternative Indicators of Well-Being for Melanesia project based in Vanuatu. He previously consulted for the Gross National Happiness Commission of Bhutan in 2009 where he assisted with the development of the Gross National Happiness Impact Assessment tool for streamlining GNH into national policy, program, and project development and selection procedures. Jamie has a B.A. in Economics and International Affairs from the University of New Hampshire and a M.A. in International Relations and Human Development from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Benuel Lenge coordinated the Household Income and Expenditure Survey in 2010 from which the Alternative Indicators collected data for the pilot on individual well-being (the results of which I will be presenting in Melbourne). He heads the Statistical Leadership and Coordination section at the Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO). Benuel has worked at VNSO for ten years, and was also the census commissioner for the 2009 census population and housing in Vanuatu. Prior to working with VNSO, Benuel has worked at the Department of Education. Benuel completed his studies at the University of the South Pacific earning a Bachelors of Art degree and has also obtained the Master of Population Studies at the Australian National University. Benuel is originally from the island of Ambae in northern Vanuatu.

The Alternative Indicators Of Well-Being For Melanesia Project

The Republic of Vanuatu is in the process of analyzing data in a pilot of alternative indicators of well-being which reflect Melanesian values. These specially tailored indicators modify the existing progressive measures accepted internationally by governments and aid agencies in order to better track the factors that contribute to ni-Vanuatu well-being. The indicators focus on factors not currently captured by the Human Development Index or accounted for within the Millennium Development Goals — factors including free access to customary lands and other natural resources, community and family vitality, and cultural knowledge and practice.

The almost universal use of GDP-based indicators to measure progress has helped justify policies based on rapid material progress at the expense of more holistic criterion. Because it is a crude measure of only the cash value of activities or production, GDP is heavily biased towards increased production and consumption regardless of the necessity or desirability of such outputs. Policies developed with regard only to increasing per-capita GDP can have adverse impacts on other factors contributing to life quality. The indicators developed by Vanuatu address a common felt need in the Pacific to consider a more holistic and culturally appropriate approach to measuring social welfare. The development and use of alternative indicators of well-being is past due. Indicators drive society in certain directions and determine the policy agendas of governments. Not only decision makers, but ordinary citizens tend to take social or economic programs at face-value and accept proposed policy implementation without examining the ultimate values underlying those programs. The Alternative Indicators of Well-Being for Melanesia project aims to bridge that gap and enable the countries of island Melanesia to develop in accordance with the expressed needs of their populations. Furthermore, regional adoption of the methodology would lead to more cooperative development opportunities driven by shared Melanesian values.

Alternative Indicators Vanuatu Report

Documentary highlighting some of the key findings (YouTube)



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