A Sustainable Approach To The World's Economies: centralise happiness and well-being

Rozie Apps
Thursday, 18th July 2013

The Gross National Happiness of Bhutan has inspired an alternative approach to GDP that will be proposed to the UN, aiming to improve our happiness and well-being whilst protecting nature. Is a new pattern emerging?

Bhutan has inspired a global framework to ensure humans and nature live in harmony, through happiness and well-being.

The New Development Paradigm (NDP) has been inspired by Gross National Happiness (GNH) which is the central system in Bhutan. Instead of the usual GDP system, GNH centralises the happiness and well-being of the people rather than wealth, whilst protecting and maintaining nature and the environment.

The new framework offers an alternative approach to the global economies. It will be presented to the UN in 2014 as a replacement to the Millenium Development Goals that run out in 2015.

GDP is the usual economic system, but with the financial crises, ever increasing unemployment, the effects of climate change and environmental destruction, it seems this system is no longer working. 

The NDP has been created by the Alliance for Sustainability and Prosperity (ASAP), an international movement aiming to craft a sustainable future. The framework was decided at the International Working Group meeting held in Bhutan.

The primary goal of the NDP is the equitable and sustainable well-being of humans and nature. It provides a framework for all people to achieve true happiness and well-being. The element of happiness will influence what people need, whilst economic activity replenishes assets in society and nature. If these can be managed sustainably, the needs of the current and future generations can be met.

Through the NDP framework, institutions will be guided to create policies that will deliver sustainable human happiness and the well being of all life by changing the world's business models so that people and nature are at forefront. 

The NDP is based on five elements:

Well-being and Happiness:

  • Supporting local economies and networks

  • Supporting the voluntary and civil society sector, and nurturing good governance

  • Promoting a balance between work and life, so people can improve health, enjoy life, strengthen relationships and act as environmental stewards

  • Empowering women, educating girls and ensuring equality

  • Nurturing values, wisdom and the practice of spiritual traditions, and drawing from traditional and indigenous values.


Ecological sustainability:

  • Establishing a system for effective and equitable governance and management of the natural commons, including the atmosphere, oceans, fresh water systems and biodiversityInvest in sustainable infrastructure, such as renewable clean energy, energy efficiency, green public spaces, and support green businesses

  • Creating mechanisms to reduce resource depletion, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions so that these stay within basic planetary boundaries and resource limits

  • Dismantling incentives towards excessive materialistic consumption, including educating for happiness, ecological literacy and sustainability, and banning advertising directed at children

  • Moving towards sustainable agriculture to feed the earth’s population without destroying its biodiversity, drawing on indigenous and traditional agricultural knowledge to prepare for the transition to a post-petroleum agriculture.

Equitable Society:

  • Reduce inequalities at all levels by improving living standards of the poor via limiting excess consumption and preventing private capture of the common wealth

  • Create fulfilling employment for all which contributes to the common good giving a better work-life balance, well-being and relationships with environmental integrity at the centre

  • Keep in check practices that degrade the environment and work-life quality through international action.

Sustainable economy:

  • Use resources efficiently, giving time for business to redesign how it delivers goods and services using biomimicry and cradle to cradle to drive socially profitable innovation

  • Eliminating subsidies that promote wasteful use of non-renewable resources

  • Applying fiscal reforms that reward sustainable and well-being-enhancing actions whilst penalising unsustainable behaviour, including ecological tax reforms

  • Provide equality in economic participation including indigenous communities, women and youth whilst encouraging jobs and a living wage.

Living and Inclusive Communities:

  • Actively draw on the experience, creativity, and ingenuity of those most directly affected, thereby appreciating that when human beings know they are heard, they are more likely to embrace the new attitudes, behaviours, and skills required to meet today's challenges

  • Amplify the citizens' voices in policy through representation in governance with citizen juries and deliberative polls

  • Making corporate entities accountable to the well-being of communities and ecosystems, where participants share in decision making.

As resouces diminish and climate change continues to affect the economies of the world, a change is desperately needed. To continue with the old system will only leave future generations with more problems and no chance of happy and healthy lives. This New Development Paradigm can give happiness and well-being to humankind and nature in a sustainable way with the resources our finite planet has to offer. It is necessary for ourselves, our children and the planet.

ASAP invites your participation and your submission of examples of what is already working to lift people from poverty, solve environmental challenges, and create the business case for sustainability. Share your solutions on the ASAP forum.

These are just a some of the points from the framework, to read the full proposal visit : www.asap4all.org

Further resources

Food Sovereignty: Reclaiming Our Food Systems

Working With Not Against Natural Forces - an original permaculture principle

Using Biological Resources - An Original Permaculture Principle

Government Announces Happiness Survey - permaculture has key role

missingyou |
Fri, 13/02/2015 - 12:57
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