AS a member of the Sustainable Growth Commission set up by the First Minister, and as a keen participant in internal SNP discussions, I am only too aware of how concerned some have been regarding using GDP as a key measure of progress. Many were no doubt confused when I agreed with them about the weakness of GDP.

My problem is not with a critique of GDP. My problem is I am also very critical of a lack of progress regarding replacing GDP by something that both works better and has sufficient rigour to command widespread respect. A mere critique is not enough.

I therefore cannot recommend highly enough environmental economist Rutger Hoekstra’s book Replacing GDP by 2030 (Cambridge University Press). In my view it is the most interesting and thoroughly evidence based approach to taking the debate on replacing GDP forward. It should be required reading for every economic minister and spokesperson as well as every research body in Scotland.

The book points to around 1000 different measures that have been created over recent decades with the hope of challenging the hegemony of GDP. All have failed to do so. As well as exploring the rise to dominance of GDP, the book also explores why it has been able to maintain its dominance amidst these apparent challenges.

The author is absolutely convinced of the need to replace GDP: he is no apologist for it. But he recognises the challenges we face, and calls for an entirely new strategy to reach a point where it can be replaced.

The reader, like me, may not accept every word of the analysis. For example, although I agree with much of his critique of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals lacking a sufficient scientific basis and lacking effective integration of targets, I do think the international political movement around them can play a stronger role in the future than described in the book. But the overall analysis presented is impressive and convincing. The intellectual rigour is outstanding.

The book moves seamlessly from addressing the nature of the problem with GDP to painting “a dire picture of the Beyond-GDP situation” seeing the plethory of initiatives as a weakness rather than a strength because of a lack of coherence and strategy.

The need for a coherent evidence based strategy to replace GDP is the crux of the argument. And Hoekstra recognises lessons can be learned from the “success” of GDP as a key indicator.

He sees the aim of the strategy as being the creation of a coherent scientific community for well-being and sustainability. He also argues, rightly in my view, that the UN, together with other international institutes, should play a leading role in organising such as community-building process.

It is a call for a new multi-disciplinary approach, led not by traditional economics, but by a new science, and one with international reach.

From my perspective, at last we have a contribution to the Beyond-GDP debate that may just help move things forward to the benefit of mankind.

Scotland has been at the forefront of a range of recent initiatives regarding environmental impact. Hopefully Scotland can play its part in the challenge to move Beyond GDP.

It may help us too to articulate the new Scotland amidst the global challenges we all must face.

Roger Mullin is a former SNP MP and has worked in the past for a range of United Nations agencies and development banks