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Presidents and Prime Ministers Around Our World: Appoint a Minister of Happiness

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Presidents and Prime Ministers Around Our World: Appoint a Minister of Happiness
  
  

 


Why this is important

We call on Presidents, Prime Ministers and National Government Leaders around the world to appoint a Minister of Happiness and form a national level happiness commission, just as there is in Bhutan, the United Arab Emirates and the state of Madhya Pradesh in India.

We ask that these offices be tasked with measuring happiness, well‐being and sustainability using survey and objective data collection; analyze the data, and work with civilians and governmental agencies to identify policies and programs and implement such, similar to Bhutan with their Gross National Happiness Commission and the United Kingdom with their Office of National Statistics National Well‐being program.

In essence, we ask you to join the happiness, well‐being and beyond GDP movement. The happiness movement harkens to the once revolutionary concept in the US Declaration of Independence that the purpose of government is to protect each person’s inalienable right to “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”

The following events are the foundation for the happiness movement:

In 2009, the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (or the Stiglitz Report) called on governments to go “beyond GDP” indicators to measure “economic performance and social progress.'

In 2011, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the organization that measures nation’s competing GDPs, issued its Better Life Index and then in 2013, issued Guidelines on Measuring Subjective Wellbeing in an effort to help governments go beyond merely monetary and economic growth measures as the primary metrics that guide policy decisions.

That same year, the United Nations issued resolution 65/309. Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development inviting governments to develop “measures that better capture the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well‐being in development with a view to guiding their public policies.”

The next year, in 2012, the Secretary General of the United Nations with the Prime Minister of Bhutan, held a High Level Meeting: "Well‐being and Happiness: Towards a New Economic Paradigm." That same year, the first World Happiness Report was published by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network, then again in 2013, 2015 and updated in 2016.

We ask your government to take a bold and necessary step in the happiness and beyond GDP movement.

We feel a fundamental goal of the happiness movement is to shift our values, individual and collective, from viewing wealth and material acquisition as the primary indicator of success and well‐being to values that include the parameters of life satisfaction, environmental sustainability, culture, social support, community, material well‐being, job satisfaction, education, time‐balance, good governance, as well as physical and psychological health. Following Bhutan’s lead, these are the “domains of happiness.” Although each country, community, individual will have somewhat different needs and approaches for improving satisfaction with life and sense of well‐being, we agree with Bhutan and our research into the domains find that indeed, these domains reflect an over‐arching commonality for all of us.

We suggest that some of the goals you consider within the realm of your nation’s happiness office are:

Promotion of diverse cultural traditions, values, wisdom, spiritual traditions to promote sustainable wellbeing, happiness and harmony among all life forms.

Equal opportunities to life‐long learning, including wellbeing, ecological, civic, cultural, health, scientific, financial and other literacies for all peoples regardless of gender, color, race, religion, nationality or other aspects.

Strengthening of local economies, community networks, social supports, responsible media, research and dialogue on the causes and conditions of sustainable wellbeing, happiness and harmony among all life forms.

Improved mental and physical health care through equal access to care and addressing of socio‐economic, behavioral, spiritual, environmental and intergenerational aspects of mental and physical health.

Investment in sustainable infrastructure to encourage, protect and restore renewable energy, clean water, public transit, biodiversity, green space, green tech, green business, sustainable production, sustainable agriculture.

Create mechanisms to reduce materialistic consumption, resource depletion, pollution and green house gas emissions within planetary boundaries.

Develop policies for balanced population and consumption within the earth's natural, social, and economic capacity.

Reduce systematic inequalities internationally and within nations via improved living standards of the poor, adequate safety net for all, limits to unearned income, fair trade systems and cooperative ownership of enterprises.

Fulfilling employment for all which contributes towards the common good, achieves work‐life balance and nurtures healthy workplace relations.

Efficient use of resources through full‐cost accounting, fiscal reforms for sustainability and global wellbeing (such as ecological tax reforms with compensating mechanism to avoid burdening low‐income groups), ecosystem service investments, reduction of fiscal speculation and access to information to move to a sustainable economy.

Posted January 20, 2017
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