“Gross National Happiness” on UN agenda
Created by the government of Bhutan, the indicator is seen as an element to add to economics-based indicators of development and productivity. For Bhutanese prime minister, “Our endeavour will have to be to prove and convince that it is, in fact, relevant to every human being and for every country”.
Timphu (AsiaNews/ Agencies) – The General Assembly of the United Nations has added Bhutan's model of Gross National Happiness (GNH) on its agenda to see whether it can be used as a development indicator. In a non-binding resolution, the UN body called on member states to draw up their own measures of happiness based on Bhutan’s GNH principle. The goal is to measure economics not only in terms of production and per capita revenue but also in terms of people’s sense of satisfaction.
Bhutanese Ambassador to the United Nations Lhatu Wangchuk said, “Our initial idea was to bring the concept of happiness to the consciousness of the UN membership . . . because we know that GDP indicators are inadequate to address human needs.”
Created in 1972, by then 16-year old King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, GNH is based on four pillars: the promotion of sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance.
The Centre for Bhutan Studies further defined the four pillars with greater specificity into nine categories for a total of 72 indicators, including “objective” and “subjective” evaluation of economic wellbeing, such as time use, psychological wellness, health, community vitality, cultural variety and resilience, education levels, standards of living, good governance, environmental variation and relative resilience.
Since 2007, part of the Bhutanese population has filled out the 70-page questionnaire to provide an overview of the country’s situation.
According to Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley, “There may be cultural and such other conditions that make the pursuit of happiness relevant only to certain sections of the human society;” nevertheless, “Our endeavour will have to be to prove and convince that it is, in fact, relevant to every human being and for every country, and that it is the most worthy pursuit for human society.”
Thinley said that for centuries economic models have been based on human greed that led countries to focus on profit, ownership and consumption.
Calamities, he said, were growing in frequency and magnitude because of the unsustainable way of life that development models determined, which are essentially founded on the insatiable human greed.