Paul Lachine

Est-il possible d’accroître le bonheur national brut ?

PRINCETON – Le petit royaume du Bhoutan dans l’Himalaya est connu pour deux raisons : le prix élevé des visas d’entrée, qui limite l’afflux des touristes, et sa politique visant à donner la primauté au « bonheur national brut » plutôt qu’à la croissance économique. Les deux sont liés : davantage de touristes pourraient entraîner une plus forte croissance économique, mais ils contribueraient aussi à dégrader l’environnement naturel et la culture du Bhoutan, réduisant les perspectives de bonheur à long terme.

Lorsque j’ai pour la première fois entendu parler de l’objectif bhoutanais d’optimisation du bonheur de la population, je me suis demandé s’il se manifestait concrètement, ou s’il n’était qu’un autre slogan politique. Alors que je me trouvais à Thimphou, la capitale, le mois dernier, pour prendre la parole lors d’une conférence sur le « développement économique et le bonheur » organisée par le Premier ministre Jigme Y. Thinley et présentée conjointement par Jeffrey Sachs, le directeur de l’Institut de la Terre de l’université de Columbia et conseiller spécial du secrétaire général des Nations unies, Ban Ki-moon, j’ai découvert que cet objectif était bien plus qu’un slogan.

Je n’avais jamais auparavant participé à une conférence prise autant au sérieux par le gouvernement d’un pays. Je m’attendais à ce que Thinley ouvre la conférence par des souhaits formels de bienvenue, avant de regagner son bureau. Mais son discours a consisté en un examen approfondi des principales questions relatives à la politique nationale de promotion du bonheur. Il a ensuite été présent pendant les deux jours et demi de la conférence et a contribué de manière pertinente aux discussions. Plusieurs ministres du cabinet assistaient également à la plupart des sessions.

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