The First Minister's TED Talk

First Minister: We should focus on wellbeing, not just GDP


In a speech to the TED Summit in Edinburgh, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon argued that a focus on policies that promote wellbeing, and not just economic growth, could help address the rise of alienation and disaffection from politics.

The First Minister said the time for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to be seen as the only measurement of a country’s success was over.

In a world of growing division and inequality, she said it is more important than ever for governments to focus on broader measurements of health and wellbeing, not just wealth.

The First Minister said:

“When we focus on wellbeing, we start a conversation that provokes profound and fundamental questions – what really matters to us in our lives.

“What do we value in the communities that we live in, what kind of country, what kind of society do we really want to be – and when we engage people in those questions and finding the answers to those questions, then I believe that we have a much better chance of addressing the alienation and disaffection from politics that is so prevalent in so many countries across the developed world today.”

The First Minister was invited to speak at Ted Global, held at the Edinburgh International Convention Centre on 24th July, and her Ted Talk is now available on the TED website.

As part of Scotland’s focus on wellbeing, the First Minister noted the establishment of the Wellbeing Economy Governments Group, created in 2018 by the Scottish Government with Iceland and New Zealand.

The First Minister referenced the work of the Scottish economist Adam Smith, who wrote in The Theory of Moral Sentiments that the value of any government is “judged in proportion to the extent that it makes its people happy”.

She added: “I think that is a good founding principle for any group of countries focused on promoting wellbeing.”


The video of the speech is available at:


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