UN Conference on Happiness as Indicator of New Economic Paradigm

Posted on 04/22/2012

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Jeffrey Sachs (links) , Anne Kathrin Kuhlemann, Enrico Gionvannini

“Happiness and Wellbeing: Defining a new Economic Paradigm“ was the subject of a Conference on April 2, 2012 at the UN in New York.. More than 600 participants from all over the world followed Bhutan’s invitation, among them scientists, politicians and civil society. All of them were welcomed by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations.Nobel laureate Prof. Joseph Stiglitz said: “GDP has failed to capture the factors that make a difference in people’s lives and contribute to their happiness (security, leisure, income distribution and a clean environment.“ Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, economic advisor of the Secretary General of the United Nations and author of the Millennium Development Goals, presented his new “World Happiness Report“: (http://www.earth.columbia.edu/sitefiles/file/Sachs%20Writing/2012/World%20Happiness%20Report.pdf). Sachs claims that happiness cannot be achieved by economic welfare alone as measured by Gross Domestic Product.

Jigmy Y. Thinley, Prime Minister of Bhutan, pointed out that “the GDP-lead development model that compels boundless growth on a planet with limited resources no longer makes economic sense.” Urged by Bhutan, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 65/309 already in July 2011, which supports a holistic approach to development so nations can achieve higher levels of happiness and wellbeing among their people.

Representatives of the Blue Economy were asked to elaborate the economic mechanisms of this new paradigm in cooperation with other experts. Anne-Kathrin Kuhlemann reminded participants to consider resource efficiency and resource effectiveness as a basis for new business models: “Innovative, prosperous technologies have to be both supported as well as required in order to encourage the business world to adopt this new paradigm.”

As representative of ZERI, Markus Haastert highlighted the importance of education: “The next generation has to master systemic thinking. People that understand how the world is interconnected will act in a responsible way and design future business models in a completely new manner.”

The conference was assisted by high-ranking representatives of the UN, politicians like the president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla, as well as numerous delegates from Brazil, Morocco, Finland, Australia, Thailand, Japan and other countries – a total of 68 nations have signalled to Bhutan that they support this initiative.

As a result of the conference, a report will be issued to the Secretary General of the United Nations. The proposals will also be part of the Rio+20 process in June this year and are supposed to lead to concrete mechanisms which will replace the Millennium Development Goals from 2015 on. [Source: Blue Economy]