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  • Writer's pictureMellaney Goh

Beyond GDP Workshop by the Malaysian CSO-SDG Alliance

The Malaysian CSO-SDG Alliance ("Alliance") organised a workshop on the agenda of going "Beyond GDP" on 6th July 2023.

Entitled “Beyond GDP: Measuring Malaysia’s Progress beyond Ringgit and Sen”, this was our exploratory workshop to imaging how Malaysia should define and measure its progress, beyond focussing on gross domestic product as the main indicator.

This workshop sprouted from the Alliance's input paper submitted to the Ministry of Economy earlier this year in connection with the government’s mid-term review of the 12th Malaysia Plan. This then elicited responses from the Department of Statistics of Malaysia ("DOSM") and PLANMalaysia (Town & Country Planning Dept, Min of Local Govt Development) who indicated that they have been working on developing progress and wellbeing indicators (ie. besides GDP).

We then planned this workshop as an opportunity for civil society to describe the problems that arise from a focus on GDP, as well as to hear about existing efforts to develop alternative indicators for progress and development.

At the workshop, we had participation from civil society organisations working across the themes of gender, indigenous peoples, environment, statelessness, poverty, access to education, etc. We secured some funding (through WWF Malaysia, yay!) to help representatives come in from Sabah and Sarawak and outside the Klang Valley. We also had leaders from universities, think tanks and more.

For scene-setting and defining the lay of the land, we had:

  • Dr. Richard Marshall, Senior Economist, Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, on the limitations of GDP, transformations taking place internationally

  • Sharath Martin, Senior Policy Consultant, ACCA Asia Pacific, on accounting for society’s values

  • Datuk Dr. Denison Jayasooria, Head of Secretariat, APPGM-SDG, on the social solidarity economy

  • En. Wan Shahrulnizam, Senior Director, DOSM, Population and Demographic Statistics Division, on Malaysia’s alternative indicators of progress, efforts to go Beyond GDP

Breaking up the participants into thematic groups, we captured valuable inputs on the nature of the problem (the causes and consequences of an often myopic focus on GDP) and what a better way of defining and measuring progress could look like.

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who participated. There is a lot to wrap our heads around, and many more stakeholders to engage with - from the public, private and third sectors - as we take this forward.

A broad but comprehensive study on how Malaysia should go Beyond GDP is needed. We will use what we learn from this workshop to shape our proposal to the Ministry of Economy on the scope of this study.

Finally, special acknowledgement to the wonderful team at WWF Malaysia, led by Zara Phang, for carrying most of the weight of organising this workshop.

Get in touch: If you or your organisation are interested in collaborating with us on this inquiry into improving how Malaysia defines and measures progress, please get in touch by emailing us - that is, the Malaysian CSO-SDG Alliance - at

About the Malaysian CSO-SDG Alliance: The Malaysian CSO-SDG Alliance is a network of civil society organisations committed to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It was formed in 2015, shortly after the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was launched. The Alliance then went on to form the secretariat to the All- Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia on the SDGs (APPGM-SDG). Presently, the Alliance has more than 90 member organisations. Its co-chairs are Lavanya Rama Iyer and Kiu Jia Yaw.

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