Inner Development Goals

Alison Malisa
4 min readJan 24, 2022


The IDG Framework for 23 broad inner development skills in 5 categories

After the debatable success of the 2000 Millennium Development Goals, in 2015, all 193 United Nations member countries signed on to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to “create the future we want in 2030.” (World Bank).

In 2016, Costa Rica became the first country in the world to sign an intersectoral National Pact to develop a working model of governance, monitoring, and implementation toward the 2030 SDG agenda. (UNSDG)

Sustainable Development Goals

Each of these are extremely broad goals. The chart of goals and their graphic representations and bright colors can help us to conceptualize and remember the collective global priorities of the United Nations and her partners. Of course, each goal carries enormous contextual variability as definitions and strategies will differ from one place to another. Who ultimately defines quality education, and whose voices are not heard? Who has the say in what constitutes wellbeing, and how might variable conditions be evaluated as one cohesive global goal? And, of course, there are the possibly contradictory goals of environmental sustainability centered around economic growth.

Hopefully, remaining critical of who establishes, governs, monitors, and measure global goals will not compromise the effort to locally embrace and adapt the goals that we want to achieve together.

Costa Rica has recognized that it takes resilient inner wellbeing to effectively impact external wellbeing outcomes. Compassion, curiosity, connection, cognitive flexibility, and co-creative capacities — or the lackthereof — can either derail or determine the local success of the global SDG ambitions.

Once again positioning itself as a progressive global development leader. Costa Rica is the first to adopt a new series of goals, the Inner Development Goals (IDGs). These are 5 categories described by 23 skills. While how they will be specified, implemented, and monitored remains to be seen, the effort is currently underway and seeking input through surveys. (Info on survey data management here.)

The IDGs were developed and put forward by a partnership of a few organizations, including 29k, a free, open-source mental health app. (Try it, share what you think.)

The IDGs move from the inner compass of self, outward. Five categories describe the journey of inner development as going from the legitimacy of purpose toward how we think about ourselves in relationship to the world, how we relate with others, how we collaborate with others, and finally how we confront larger external challenges together~ like those addressed by the Sustainable Development Goals.

Inner development is a requisite to sustainable development.

The 23 skills

In viewing the goals and moving forward on them, some questions might arise. What critically important questions or insights come up for you?

Some Questions

  • How much input has been sought after from across diverse community cultures?
  • How do these goals repeat or support mental health work toward already established goals?
  • What mental health goals already exist at the forefront of our national priorities? Community priorities? School priorities? Personal Priorities?
  • How flexible are these goals to adapt to various local environments?
  • How might noticing nature and developing a sense of awe support these goals?
  • How might mental models that develop a sense of self and purpose help us achieve these goals?
  • How might Elinor Ostrom’s Core Design Principles for common resource management (below) underscore the ability to collaborate with one another on shared goals and purpose? Then, once our tribe is established, to persevere in our actions in collaboration with other groups?
  • In other words, how might the act of designing economic ecosystems for peace, prosperity, regeneration, and wellbeing for all contribute to our own personal and communal wellbeing, in a virtuous cycle of positive feedback?

Elinor Ostrom describes 8 Core Design Principles (CDPs) that are indigenous to all self-governing groups who come together with a common purpose of sustainable resource management. These findings, which upended the dominant economic assumptions that human self-interest would always create a “tragedy of the commons” by proving it a false assumption, astonishingly earned her the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2009. Ostrom was the first woman to receive this prize.



Alison Malisa

EconoWitch||Stirring the pot of Economics Education & Research 4 Peace, Prosperity, Regeneration, and Wellbeing for All. Prosocial||Nature||Salutogenesis