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    September 25

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Social progress ‘uncharted’

SHAWN CUMBERBATCH, shawncumberbatch@nationnews.com

Added 03 December 2016

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AS BARBADOS CELEBRATES Independence, authorities have been touting the island’s social progress.

However, a new index published by a United States-based non-profit organisation has left Barbados off a list of 133 of what it claims are the world’s most socially progressive nations because of an absence of “sufficient data”.

The Social Progress Index 2016, released by The Social Progress Imperative, concluded that Finland was the world’s most socially progressive state, while the Central African Republic was the worst.

The initiative is a “a multi-indicator index that assesses the social and environmental performance of different countries”, moving beyond mere gross domestic product as a measurement of a country’s well-being.

As in Oceania, the report said, Barbados was among a group of “smaller island nations of the Caribbean” that “lack sufficient data for even partial measurement”.

The other countries named were Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, [and] St Vincent and the Grenadines”.

It also said Belize, Cuba, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago “only have sufficient data coverage to calculate some of the Social Progress Index components”.

In addition to Finland, the countries said to have “very high social progress”, in order of ranking, were Canada, Denmark, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Iceland, New Zealand and Ireland.

Outside of Central African Republic, those with “very low social progress” were Afghanistan, Chad, Angola, Niger, Guinea, and Yemen.

Commenting on the decision to leave Barbados and other small Caribbean islands off the list, The Social Progress Imperative said these were places “where data collection is prohibitively expensive for many of the data sources or organisations”.

“We are hopeful that as data collection techniques improve, these countries can be included in the Social Progress Index.”

The US NGO said its index incorporated four key design principles: “exclusively social and environmental indicators”; “outcomes not inputs”; “holistic and relevant to all countries”; and “actionable”. (SC)

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