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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Happiness as an Economic Policy:

Happiness as an economic policy: Re-thinking GDP at the UN - Forbes
by Lisa Napoli, Contributor
Journalist, radio host, and author of Radio Shangri-La

On Monday at the UN, the Prime Minister of Bhutan is convening a summit titled:

Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm

"On 19 July last year, 68 countries joined the Kingdom of Bhutan in co-sponsoring a resolution titled “Happiness: Towards a holistic approach to development,” which was adopted by consensus by the 193-member UN General Assembly.
In follow up to the resolution, the Royal Government of Bhutan is convening a High Level Meeting on “Happiness and Well Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” on 2nd April 2012 at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
This meeting will initiate next steps towards realizing the vision of a new well being and sustainability based economic paradigm that effectively integrates economic, social, and environmental objectives.
Intended outcomes of this meeting include:
  • A statement on the new economy for voluntary signature by all the participants
  • Building a global movement and action networks to promote implementation of the new economy
  • Voluntary specific policy recommendations for consideration by governments in the short, medium, and long term
  • Establishment of an independent expert Task Force to elaborate the details of the new economic paradigm
  • A strategy to present the new economic paradigm at the special event to be hosted by the Royal Government of Bhutan during the Rio+20 summit in June this year
  • A strategy for effective communication of the new economy to reach the widest possible audience.

This landmark gathering on 2nd April will be attended by a select but representative group of top government representatives, by all United Nations missions, and by leading economists,scholars and spiritual and civil society leaders, representing both developed and developing nations."

To advance a movement to get the world’s leaders to think differently about how they measure success, participants will be examining Bhutan's social experiment and its results over the last 40 years.

Over 200 participants from around the world, ranging from behavioral economists, spiritual leaders, environmentalists and academics will be in attendance.  
The President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla, is delivering the keynote address.  (Her country is heralded as happy for abolishing its military and maintaining the environment.)  

Economists Lord Richard Layard and Joseph Stieglitz will speak.  So will the Venerable Matthieu Richard, a Buddhist monk.  The founder of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, will be there.

The discussion is about Bhutan’s long-standing commitment to:
 Gross National Happiness.

For forty years rulers have been judged by this measure of the happiness of the people of Bhutan., 
GNH, is an outgrowth of Buddhist philosophy: 
- not to grow the economy at the expense of the well-being of the people or the environment.  
- ethical and moral leadership 
- maintain and preserve the cultural heritage of the country.

 As evidenced by a mounting financial crisis being faced by Bhutan and

its expulsion of Bhutanese considered not to be ethnically pure,   

living the Bhutan formula may have a fiscal downside and it is not a

 "Perfect" solution" for all citizens all the time.

Check out the two-page documents submitted by many of the attendees as an excellent primer to what’s being proposed.

This is a stunning site promoting the conference.

 U.N. Resolution - Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development

Sustainability and Happiness - the Vital Link