Failure of mainstream well-being measures to appropriately reflect the well-being of Indigenous and local communities and its implications for welfare policies

Kamaljit Sangha


Most current well-being measures ignore the contributions of natural systems in people’s well-being. Evaluating the role of natural resources in well-being is particularly important for many Indigenous and local communities to appropriately reflect their well-being and to inform future welfare policies. It is well acknowledged that Indigenous and peoples’ values and customs are well integrated with natural systems, and inclusion of these nature-related attributes into well-being measures is required to accurately measure Indigenous/local well-being. This study reviews the available well-being frameworks from global as well as from local—Australian perspectives; and proposes a holistic approach to assess the role of natural systems for human well-being using how Indigenous and local peoples’ social, economic and ecological values, and capabilities relate to natural systems, that can inform broader human well-being attributes. Both, Capability and the Millennium Assessment Approaches are analysed and applied to develop an integrated framework. This paper emphasises the importance of each connection that people may have with nature to consider for developing better-informed policies on Indigenous and local peoples’ well-being as well as on the use and management of natural systems.

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