World Governance Indicators (WGI)

The Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) (Kaufman et al 2010), a project of the World Bank and the Brookings Institution, assesses the quality of governance in more than 213 countries worldwide. ‘Governance’ is the word used to describe what a government does and ‘governance effectiveness’ describes how well the government exercises its powers to create and enforce policies that benefit its citizens. Effective governance is essential to both successful development and maintaining environmental quality. ”To achieve their environmental commitments and goals, States need strong legislative, political and judicial systems” (UNEP 2010).

WGI rates every country’s governance status for (a) the process by which governments are selected, monitored, and replaced; (b) the government’s capacity to effectively formulate and implement sound policies; and (c) the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions among them.  

Categories evaluated by WGI are:

1. Voice and Accountability - captures perceptions of the extent to which a country's citizens are able to participate in selecting their government, as well as freedom of expression, freedom of association, and a free media. By enabling society to vocalize their concerns and participate in selecting their government forces government to respond to public concerns including ocean and environmental priorities.

2. Political Stability and Absence of Violence/Terrorism - captures perceptions of the likelihood that the government will be destabilized or overthrown by unconstitutional or violent means, including politically motivated violence and terrorism. Violence and instability shift government’s priorities, and resources cannot be given to important ocean and environmental policy initiatives.

3. Government Effectiveness - captures perceptions of the quality of public services, the quality of the civil service and the degree of its independence from political pressures, the quality of policy formulation and implementation, and the credibility of the government's commitment to such policies. An effective government is important to demonstrating commitment to the quality of ocean health policy.

4. Regulatory Quality - captures perceptions of the ability of the government to formulate and implement sound policies and regulations that permit and promote private sector development. Sound regulations protecting marine resources are important to sustaining coastal livelihoods and preserving ecological biodiversity.

5. Rule of Law - captures perceptions of the extent to which agents have confidence in and abide by the rules of society, and in particular the quality of contract enforcement, property rights, the police, and the courts, as well as the likelihood of crime and violence. 

6. Control of Corruption - captures perceptions of the extent to which public power is exercised for private gain, including both petty and grand forms of corruption, as well as "capture" of the state by elites and private interests. (Kaufman 2010). Corruption ensures that only a privileged class of leaders is served whereas it is important to include all interested parties in policy creation or marine policies will not be balanced and sustainable.

Effective governance is a major contributor to the social integrity of any country. It is the foundation upon which all economic and environmental progress relies. The Ocean Health Index uses the term ‘social integrity’ to describe the social structures and processes internal to a community that affect its Resilience. Global data on those factors are nearly entirely lacking, so the Index uses WGI as a proxy for social integrity.

How Was It Measured?
Data for WGI are gathered through surveys and other evaluations conducted in collaboration with more than 30 international organizations, including information from individuals, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), think tanks, aid donors, public officials and corporations doing business in the countries being assessed. The resulting data (more than 40 different data layers) are used to evaluate six dimensions of governance: Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law and Control of Corruption.  WGI is updated annually.

WGI scores each dimension from approximately -2.5 to 2.5. The Ocean Health Index rescaled those scores to a range of 0 to 1, then averaged the six rescaled scores to produce a single WGI score (range 0 to 1) for each country.

The full composite score for all six WGI indicators was used to evaluate social resilience for all Ocean Health Index goals, with the exception of Livelihoods. The Livelihoods goal only uses the WGI’s Regulatory Quality data layer (number 4, above), because it also uses the Global Competitiveness Index, which duplicates, but improves, the remaining WGI layers for this purpose.

This score is a measure of social integrity and social Resilience, and was used to calculate a measure of social Pressures. A score of 1 means that social Resilience is the best it can be, and a score of 0 means that governance is completely ineffective, so that the country has no social Resilience. However, lack of social Resilience itself is a Pressure, because it will make social, economic and environmental conditions worse in the future. Therefore, the Index uses (1 – WGI score) as a measure of social Pressures.  A WGI score of 0.5 indicates that social Resilience and social Pressures are in balance. Scores above that suggest that the country is able to respond to Pressures relatively successfully, but scores below that suggest that it is less likely to do so.