Hundreds of representatives from governments, academia, non-governmental as well as religious organizations from all over the world gathered on April 2 at the UN Headquarters in New York to discuss the topic of “Happiness and Well-being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm.” The participants of the meeting, convened by the Government of Bhutan, included the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as well as leading experts from the fields of economics, well-being and sustainability. The notion of ‘well-being’ and ‘happiness’ in relation to the current economic system was discussed, along with the topic of measuring progress using alternative indicators such as the Gross National Happiness, pioneered by the Government of Bhutan, as well as others including New Economics Foundation (“nef”) and its Happy Planet Index.
At the meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted that “GDP… fails to take into account the social and environmental cost of so-called progress. We need a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness.” He also stressed the need for further discussions and real outcomes in support of sustainable development at the up-coming Rio+20 conference in Rio de Janeiro.
The meeting saw also the launch of the first “World Happiness Report,” published by the Earth Institute, which reviews the state of happiness in the world today and shows how the new science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness (Read more about the World Happiness Report here).