Paul Lachine

The Economy of Gross National Happiness

On April 2, the UN hosted a High-Level Meeting on Happiness and Well-Being. Conceived by the government of the Kingdom of Bhutan, and supported by 68 UN member states, the meeting should catalyze efforts to create a new economic model grounded in sustainability and dedicated to human well-being.

OXFORD – On April 2, the United Nations hosted a High-Level Meeting on Happiness and Well-Being in New York. Conceived by the government of the Kingdom of Bhutan, and supported by 68 UN member states, the meeting was conducted against the tumultuous backdrop of global financial crisis, catastrophic climate change, widespread poverty, and the rise of neuroeconomics – factors that have jolted the status quo and brought economics to a crossroads.

The meeting was called to catalyze mounting efforts to create a new economic paradigm grounded in sustainability and dedicated to human well-being, building on Bhutan’s innovative approach, which aims not for GDP growth, but for gains in gross national happiness (GNH). Bhutan’s holistic approach takes into account material, social, spiritual, and environmental factors, measured according to the GNH index.

Indeed, Bhutan’s example gives the international community a unique opportunity to reconsider the path of economics in order to facilitate human flourishing on a shared planet. Three topics must be addressed to drive the discussion forward.

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