The wealth of nations is commonly expressed in “Gross Domestic Product” (GDP) or “Gross National Income” (GNI), accounted for in a monetary value. GDP and GNI are composed of the economic output or income of a country, which is composed of financial transactions in exchange for goods and services.
However, economic activities have certain adverse side-effects on the natural environment, resources, and on the socio-cultural and socio-economic fabric of a society. In addition, natural resources are not renewable and many vital resources – water, energy, but also certain minerals and metals – are scarce (or are set to become scarce goods in the near/medium future). Yet none of these adverse effects, external, or “non-financial” aspects are factored into the commonly expression of wealth of Nations, the GDP. In other words – the GDP is a very limited expression of a national balance sheet.
GDP growth rates and changes in growth rates are often used as an indicator for an economy’s well-being and development. However, due to the lack of integrating all aspects of development drivers – natural resources, efficiency, innovation capabilities and social cohesion - the GDP describes a moment in time. Current GDP levels therefore have limited informative value relating to the future potential of achieving and sustaining inclusive development and creation of wealth.
The sustainable competitiveness model incorporates all relevant pillars of sustained growth and wealth creation of a nation – natural capital availability, resource intensity, innovation and business capabilities, and social cohesion.
"Sustainable competitiveness is the ability of a country to meet the needs and basic requirements of current generations while sustaining or growing the national and individual wealth into the future without depleting its natural, intellectual and social capital."
In addition to the full integration of sustainability performance data, the sustainable competitiveness index also analyses and incorporates the data trends over time to allow for a better expression of the future development potential. The results aim at serving as an alternative to the GDP, and to be used to analyse future development prospects of nations.