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Green China Research Flagship Seminar

June 20, 2022

The Changing Wealth of Nations: Going Beyond GDP

The Green China Research Flagship is a joint research collaboration between the DRC, Ministry of Finance of the People’s Republic of China (MOF), and the World Bank Group. The Program aims to provide research and analysis on current patterns of economic development and their environmental consequences and identify policy options to accelerate China’s transition to a sustainable, carbon-neutral and more resource-efficient economy. In addition to generating knowledge, the program provides a platform for cross-sectoral policy dialogue and engagement between DRC, the World Bank, and other government counterparts.

While gross domestic product (GDP) indicates how much monetary income or output a country creates in a year, wealth accounting indicates the value of the underlying national assets and therefore the prospects for maintaining and increasing that income over the long term. The Changing Wealth of Nations (CWON) 2021 report provides an updated wealth accounts database and rich analysis spanning 146 countries, annually from 1995 to 2018. It contains a wide set of assets including human capital broken down by gender, as well as natural capital assets spanning minerals, fossil fuels, forests, mangroves, and marine fisheries.

The seminar provided an overview on why wealth is a necessary complement to flow measures of economic performance. It presented an overview of the CWON database and how to use it. It also explained accounting methodologies used to derive key wealth measures and give practical advice for interpreting wealth accounts with national-level examples and country comparisons focused on China.