The Happy Planet IndexLike Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the New Economics Foundation, respondingto this need has created a Happy Planet Index (HPI). The HPI is considered to be oneof the leading global measures of sustainable wellbeing. As a measure of humanprogress, it measures the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainablelives for their citizens.The 2012 HPI report, published on 14 June 2012, ranks 151 countries based on theirefficiency – defined as the extent to which each nation produces long and happy livesfor their citizens, per unit of environmental input. Clearly the results show that we arenot living on a happy planet. No country has good performance on three criticalindicators – life expectancy, experiential well being and ecological footprint. Somecountries certainly do well, but maybe not the ones you expected.None of the top 10 in the HPI are the world’s rich countries. Of the top 40 in the HPI,only four have a GDP per capita of over $ 15,000. The highest ranking Western nationis Norway at 28. New Zealand is 29th. Costa Rica leads the HPI table, with its veryhigh life expectancy, high experiential wellbeing and an ecological footprint one-third ofthe USA’s. The HPI results show that progress is not just about wealth. That it ispossible to live happily in a sustainable way, without doing irretrievable damage to theenvironment and that this is measurable. There does not seem to be much diversity inthe findings of the Earth Institute and New Economics Foundation.
Better Life’ index and the HDIThe OECD also, a mainly rich country think tank, has attempted to address this issueof developing an accurate indicator for development has created the ‘Better Life’ index.The index uses 24 variable indicators across 11 sectors, to create a measure of welfare for 34 of its members, plus Brazil and Russia. If the 11 sectors are groupedinto two broader categories, America excels most in money and jobs, Switzerland inhealth and education.The index was launched in May 2011; it was the first attempt to bring togetherinternationally comparable measures of wellbeing. The 11 sectors measured includehousing, income, jobs, community life, education, environment, governance and work-life balance. Each topic was considered using three indicators; for work-life balancethree indicators were considered: the number of employees working long hours, thepercentage of working mothers, and the time people devoted to leisure and personalactivities.The HDI, Human Development Index, developed by the UNDP under the guidance ofthe late Dr. Mahbub ul Haque was an alternative measure. Dr. Haque said: “Thehuman dimension of development is not just another addition to the developmentdialogue. It is an entirely new perspective, a revolutionary way to recast ourconventional approach to development.”Gross National HappinessIn 1999 the Planning Commission of Bhutan organised a workshop in Thimpu toconsider whether or not the concept of Gross National Happiness – GNH – asarticulated by the King of Bhutan as a development target of his kingdom, could berelated to the HDI indicators of the UNDP.The workshop considered a number of issues: Could an index for GNH be constructed