The Prince George's County Planning Department is hosting its third year of the speaker series, which is based on the six key topics generated from Envision Prince George's. Please join us for relevant discussions on various topics pertaining to our county, state, and region. Read more.
Overview of Discussion:
Currently, the predominate benchmarks of community well-being are largely traditional economic measures, especially the gross domestic product, or GDP. Yet, we are all keenly aware that these are, in fact, inaccurate descriptions of our true prosperity. The global “Beyond GDP” movement is gaining traction with national and subnational governments, especially within the United States, to provide policymakers and the public alike more appropriate alternatives. But many challenges remain for widespread adoption and effective application of such indicators, particularly in the government realm, especially in planning decisions. The immediate allure of development projects may hide or outweigh long-term, ‘true’ costs that local governments may incur, only exacerbating already difficult budgetary times. This workshop will focus on Maryland’s genuine progress indicator and other government initiatives, and the speaker will highlight political and institutional challenges in implementing alternative indicators for public policy, planning, and decision analyses.
Maryland developed its genuine progress indicator to measure how development activities impact long-term prosperity both positively and negatively. Here in Maryland and across the globe, people are continually challenged by the need to find a balance between advancing economic gain and ensuring social well-being. Traditional indicators like the gross domestic/state products address only economic transactions. They do not include the environmental and social costs of what we buy, the quality of life impacts of how we live, or fully appreciate the significant contributions of our natural systems. Housing is the single largest budget item for most American households, with transportation costs a close second; the idea of affordable housing takes on a whole new perspective when the costs are combined. Too often families “drive till they qualify” for affordable housing without recognizing what impact related transportation costs will have on their budgets. Without understanding the impact, some moderate- and low-income households may end up with transportation costs that exceed their housing costs. This session will explore these costs and provide tools to help planners and decision-makers improve community development and investment decisions.
Sean McGuire (MSc. Environmental Policy & Ecological Economics, UMD-College Park) initiated, developed, and currently updates and leads Maryland’s genuine progress indicator, which complements state income accounting with a more comprehensive gauge of sustainable economic welfare. Mr. McGuire is the director of sustainability policies at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, where he works on systemic policy solutions and approaches, specifically on the green economy, ecological economics, and ecosystem services for statewide initiatives.