Bhutan’s “Gross National Happiness”

Posted on October 18, 2011


In 2007 The managing director of the World Bank Mr. Graeme Wheeler observed in a vital dialogue speaking to senior government officials, students of the Royal Institute of Management and senior educationists, that in all respects, the behaviors we are seeing internationally are illustrated by the Buddhist symbols of the three poisons depicted by the pig, the rooster and the snake, representing ignorance, anger and greed.

And today in 2011 his speech still holds true globally as no resolve to the major failures of the Global Corporations and Financial Systems to stop the recapitulation and resolve the errors in our current global systems and make Humanity and the Environment the top priority on the corporate balance sheets of the world.

In review Wheeler outlined in dialogue on change; a mission for “The Endless Knot: An Economic Path toward Gross Inter- National Happiness”

He said in many respects, the behaviors we are seeing internationally are illustrated by the Buddhist symbols of the three poisons depicted by the pig, the rooster and the snake, representing <strong>ignorance, anger and greed.</strong>

The Managing Director of the World Bank said, Bhutan can play a critical role in showing the world how to respond to climate change and for humanity. He said Bhutan has been practicing what other countries need to do.

Mr. Wheeler said we need to extend the concept of Gross National Happiness to Gross International Happiness.

The daring policies of the Bhutanese Government conducive

to the implementation of development that responds to the

basic needs of the people (including their happiness), while

designing a competitive approach to business that stand up against the giants (India and China) surrounding this

tiny Himalayan nation.

Bhutan and Gross National Happiness His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan, not only turned the absolute monarchy of his Himalayan Kingdom into a democracy, but also stated

early in his reign that happiness is more important than growth. That vision is now known to the world as Gross National Happiness (GNH).

The first elected Government has taken pragmatic decisions to strengthen economic progress while safeguarding GNH. The mandate to protect 60% of its current prime forests and the guaranteed access to traditional medicine parallel to modern medicine (both engrained

into the constitution), prohibiting the sale of cigarettes nationwide, the commitment to be a net carbon sink forever, as well as Bhutan‘s policies on plastic bags (banned), junk food (taxed) and luxury cars (also heavily

taxed), sets the stage for a world society we all aspire to be part of.

However, the pressure to grow is high, unemployment poses a new challenge, and access to satellite television and internet entices many to emulate a consumption model we all know is not sustainable.

Next month Bhutan sets the stage to share its models and action with Gunter Pauli, adding to his examples of The Blue Economy; the Government of Bhutan has signaled its resolve to turn the country into a benchmark for social and economic development:

1. the first bio-plastics nation of the world converting

only agro-waste into functional plastics, inspired

by Novamont in Italy;

2. the first fossil free nation in the world guaranteeing

mobility tapping resin from its trees as the prime

and hopefully soon only liquid fuel source, inspired

by Las Gaviotas in Colombia;

3. the first urban design that ensures water efficiency

and health locally, eliminating the need for septic

tanks, sewage and centralized water treatment, inspired

by EcoCycleDesign in Sweden;

4. the first to pursue organic agriculture nation-wide,

starting with hotels and restaurants catering to international

tourists; and,

5. to create a GNH Center where the world could

experience and learn how Bhutan strives towards

happiness while developing the capacity to respond

to the needs of all.

Bhutan clearly goes beyond the best green economy

we have imagined to date – thus achieving global benefit

as well as the benefiting the people in Bhutan.

Gross National Happiness

GNH was established to express an indicator that measures

quality of life or social progress in more holistic

and psychological terms than gross domestic product

(GDP). The term was coined in 1972 by Bhutans fourth

king who used the phrase to signal his commitment to

building an economy that would serve Bhutan‘s unique

culture based on Buddhist spiritual values.

The four pillars of GNH are the promotion of sustainable

development, preservation and promotion of cultural

values, conservation of the natural environment, and

establishment of good governance.

These are further defined into eight general contributors to happiness physical, mental and spiritual health; time-balance;

social and community vitality; cultural vitality; education;

living standards; good governance; and ecological vitality.

The Centre for Bhutan Studies developed a sophisticated survey instrument to measure the population‘s general level of well-being as well as policy screening tools which can be used to examine the potential impacts of projects or programs on GNH. Proposed policies in Bhutan must pass a GNH review based on a GNH impact statement.

It is with these guiding principles that Gunter Pauli and leaders from around the world will be meeting in June and creating dialogues on how GNH has formed models that can be used globally in the Blue Economy projects currently being implemented in Bhutan and brought forth to the world.

On that hope that their findings will be put into action in other countries around the world to model a true model and system of Gross International Happiness as envisioned by the managing director of the World Bank Mr. Graeme Wheeler in 2007.

Posted in: Inspiration