Keywords: social capital, social capacity, sustainable development, inclusive wealth, sustainability measurement, public policy
The role of social capital in sustainable development assessment frameworks
This paper explores the role of social capital in frameworks for assessing sustainable development. This paper is arranged in three sections. The first argues that many aspects of social capacity qualify as 'capital', as they: represent durable assets providing a stream of benefits, and are subject to feasible social governance. The second reviews existing sustainable development measurement frameworks, and finds they neglect social capital or only include measures related to the instrumental economic value of social capital. The third section presents evidence that the neglected aspects of social capital are likely to be material to future well-being, and warrant special attention (including because they have few functional substitutes, are subject to threshold effects, and are irreplaceable if lost). The paper concludes there would be benefits from improving our understanding of social capital dynamics, developing suitable macro measures, and exploring policies for promoting sustainable development through protecting or enhancing social capital.