Today we launch the 2021 results for the Thriving Places Index (TPI).
The TPI measures progress towards a better, more equitable and more sustainable world. It tracks how well we are growing our capacity to thrive – individually and collectively – in local areas right across England and Wales. Perhaps most importantly it makes it practical to put these metrics at the heart of local economies and in the hands of local citizens and leaders.
This year is the fifth anniversary of the first release of the data (then called the Happy City Index) and over that time it has become widely recognised as a world leading tool for delivering place-based wellbeing economics. Today, the local towns, cities and regions that make up that world have never had a greater need for a new compass and roadmap for a better future.
The time is now to put what matters to people, place and planet at the heart of our recovery from the devastating impact of the Covid pandemic. Lives and livelihoods have been destroyed and the task of rebuilding the economy falls to us all. How we do that will define so much of our future.
The time is now to put the wellbeing of the many over the wealth of a few. To move away from spending billions each year dealing with the consequences of the ‘old’ economy’s inexorable growth in inequality and instead design IN fairness and equity to how places work.
The time is now to end the subsidising of industries, policies and practices that jeopardise our planet and our future at the altar of shareholder value, and instead to invest – our money, our time, our skills and our focus – on growing the wellbeing of current AND future generations.
If the time is now for this approach what does the TPI offer to help us get there?
The TPI provides a rigorous and practical pathway to building back truly better, place by place. It provides a set of shared goals to help everyone, from mayors to the most marginalised citizens, to better see, measure, understand and improve the things that really matter for our lives and our futures. The hard work has been done for them, with the TPI providing a detailed and trusted picture of what a ‘good economy’ looks like.
It makes visible the role of health, environment, transport, education, green spaces, community services and so much more. It unearths how well we are sharing the benefits fairly and justly between all our citizens, protecting the vulnerable and growing opportunities for the marginalised. And it offers a picture of whether we are doing all these things in ways that will ensure we can thrive into the future on a healthy and diverse planet. In short, the research, the evidence, the data and the narrative – for more joined up and future-proofed policy and practice are provided for every Local Authority area in England and Wales.
For local policymakers, the TPI has never been a more relevant and timely resource. In the midst of what can feel like a chaos of disrupted systems and political, economic and environmental uncertainties, the TPI offers local governments a desperately needed reliable roadmap to navigate this huge shift. Its tried and tested measures, frameworks and tools offer a solid alternative to the narrow perimeters of GVA / productivity measures that have historically left local government battling the persistent gulf between the economic objectives and the social, environmental and health outcomes they have been expected to deliver.
Local government is at an unprecedented moment as it tackles the rebuilding of local economies following the past 18 months of the pandemic shock. And it is doing this in a context of both Brexit and the accelerating climate crisis, both impacting in very concrete ways on local lives and livelihoods.
This year’s TPI offers urgently needed access to the framework and data that local governments need in the coming months to develop their post-pandemic recovery strategies and action plans, tackling economy, health, environment, wellbeing and climate response in an integrated way that drives living standards, wellbeing and sustainability.
The TPI also offers local communities and community leaders, support, evidence and a means of navigating the urgent task of adapting to the needs of today, and to the future we can see coming. The covid crisis disrupted power and the way things were done. Communities and civil society stepped in with exceptional agency and leadership. There is a moment right now to capitalise on this, before the system shifts back to the status quo with its entrenched power imbalances and blind spots. The dual crisis of covid and the climate are impacting most those in the most need, amplifying the inequalities we already face in society – the world is shifting and we need new ways to understand and connect with it.
The TPI can and is being used by so many people across the UK (and beyond) – from citizens to funders, decision makers, business leaders and change-makers – to bridge sectoral, cultural and political divides and agree, at a place-based level to put the wellbeing of people and planet first. It can help make the complex accessible and doable, and the future more foreseeable. It is provided to deliver a set of shared and measurable goals to help all of us help ourselves, each other, our local places and our world to thrive.
To get more information, including the 2021 results for where YOU live go to – https://www.thrivingplacesindex.org/ https://www.thrivingplacesindex.org/results/england or to the 2021 results summary https://www.thrivingplacesindex.org/docs/TP2021_keyreport.pdf
Liz Zeidler, CEO, Centre for Thriving Places