Iceland Mag

3 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

An international conference on an alternative to GDP to be held in Reykjavík

By Staff

  • Harpa Conference Center and Music Hall The Social Progress Index (SPI) measures how well an economy provides positive social outcomes for people. Iceland ranks in fourth place according to the latest measurement of the SPI. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

On April 28 an international conference exploring how to generate social progress will be held in Reykjavík. The conference, which is organized by the Social Progress Imperative and the Icelandic knowledge company Gekon, will feature experts from business, government and academia will explore how the Social Progress Index can be used to inform development and policy making. 

Global experts to meet in Harpa on April 28
The conference, which its organizers promise will be a watershed in the discussion about how different regions and countries have achieved standout social progress, is a meeting of social innovators from around the world to identify solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems.


Michael Porter The Harvard professor is the keynote speaker at the conference. Professor Porter was ranked as number one of global management thinkers in 2015 by the Thinkers50 ranking, which has been described by the Financial Times and others as the “Oscars of management thinking.”

Keynote speaker at the conference is Michael Porter, professor at Harvard Business School and among other visitors are Matthew Bishop the international editor at The Economist and Martha Minow the dean of Harvard Law School, as well as Michael Green, the CEO of the Social Progress Imperative.

SPI complements GDP as a measure of economic success
The Social Progress Imperative calculates the “Social Progress Index”, which is a unique measure which captures social outcomes which are not captured by the common measures of economic success such as GDP. The SPI measures the ability of a national or regional economy to meet basic human needs, provide the foundations of wellbeing and creating opportunities for people.

While it is social progress, not GDP, which actually affect the lives of ordinary people, policy makers have focused on the latter measure. Countries and regions have had varying success in turning economic product into real tangible social benefits to people. Measurement is the first step toward adopting policies which raise the quality of life and comparing case studies and drawing lessons from successful cases is the second. The Reykjavík conference is set to do exactly this.

Iceland has high GDP per capita, high SPI
Iceland is a particularly interesting case study. In April 2015 The Social Progress Imperative published the SPI for the third time, according to which Iceland ranked fourth out of 133 nations. Michael Green, the CEO of the Social Progress Imperative points out this made Reykjavík a logical site for the conference.

„Iceland is one of the most successful countries when it comes to Social Progress. It is very appropriate to have an SPI event on a global scale here in Iceland. I am particularly pleased to see how we have managed to put together such an ambitious and cosmopolitan agenda and very much looking forward to attend this event,"

The conference program and registration can be found here.

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