For immediate release
April 6, 2012
On Monday April 2, the United Nations held a High Level Meeting on “Happiness and Wellbeing: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” hosted by the Prime Minister of Bhutan. The UN has assigned Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan nation the task of boldly initiating steps towards realizing a vision, for this and future generations, which recognizes our interdependence with nature and each other.
Participants in this meeting included eight of the nine volunteer board of directors of Vermont-based non-profit organization Gross National Happiness USA (GNHUSA.org). Co-founders and coordinators, Linda Wheatley and Tom Barefoot, were joined by Paula Francis, Dan Jones, Carrie McDougall, Azur Moulaert, Marianne Ward and Eric Zencey, as well as 650 other participants from around the world. Notable attendees included Nobel Prize winning scientists, economists and activists, as well as ambassadors, presidents and prime ministers, academic experts, religious leaders and even a beamed in message from Prince Charles.
There was wide agreement that the countries of the world need to research and develop better indicators of progress so that we measure what really matters: our sustainable well-being rather than just economic costs and benefits. Meeting organizers are crafting a formal set of principles before the U.N Rio+20 conference on Sustainable Development to be held in June 2012 and for the next session of the U.N. General Assembly in 2013.
The draft statement, developed during the two workdays following the conference, begins with these two paragraphs:
“A fundamental human goal is the deep abiding wellbeing and happiness that comes from living life in full, in harmony with our communities and fellow beings and the natural world. Realizing this vision requires a healthy balance between all parts of our national and global wealth including our natural, human, economic, social, and cultural wealth.”
“This balance is absent from our present system, which prioritizes economic growth at the expense of nature and people. The current paradigm now threatens the survival of humans and other species, and is no longer an option. We need a fundamental transition to a new economic paradigm that serves human happiness and the wellbeing of all life on earth.”
Vermont-based GNHUSA was invited to participate because it has been an early advocate of such changes, hosted an international conference on Gross National Happiness in Burlington in 2010 and is engaged in several current projects. These include working with Vermont organizations, businesses, towns and state government to build well-being metrics into future policy decisions; a May 30th, 2012 GNHUSA conference on using the new well-being measures, a 2013 week-long “chautauqua,” and a Pursuit of Happiness Walk from VT to DC this coming August to generate conversation on what makes life worth living.
April 13th is Pursuit of Happiness Day in Vermont. You can join events in Montpelier (HappinessWalk.com), at Middlebury College and in Burlington.
More information about the UN conference can be found at the TIME magazine site http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2110914,00.html#ixzz1rA5vQqAB