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Posted on on April 15th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

ALL photos CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

The Gathering in the Low Library Rotunda at Columbia University for Purpose of the Workshop on Happiness.

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

CREDITS: Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA

The Bhutan Prime Minister backed up by the facilitator of the Communications Group

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

Nobel Prize winning economist Professor Joeseph Stieglitz makes a presentation at Columbia U.

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

Professor Jeffrey Sachs is the Columbia University host to the Prime Minister and to the Happiness Concept.

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

The President of Costa Rica gives the Keynote presentation for the Monday, April 2, 2012, UN General Assembly mandated  meetings at the UN.

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

Ron Colman of the Secretariat of Happiness speaks at the Communications Strategy Session April 3, 2010 in the building of the Bhutan Mission to the UN.

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

Hunter Lovins makes the case for positive business

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

Comments from the floor and people that would like to see a strong media effort.

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

Comments from the floor and people of 9-11 religious attitudes – the spiritual/moral backing of Happiness.


United Nations Conference on Well-being and Happiness
New York City, April 2-4, 2012

CREDITS: “Sabrina Cecconi -WHCA”

WHCA (The World Happiness Communication Associates)  – – partcipated in the planning and communications group charged with creating an overall road map and action plan for forward movement towards the new economy, including a special event at Rio + 20, plans to communicate the vision of the new economy widely, and development of short and medium-term policies that governments can be urged to adopt to make concrete moves towards the new economy.
[read more]
Statement of spiritual leaders
Plenary presentation, communication group
Pictures of the meetings


Posted on on April 15th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (


Mary Judd works out of Albany, the Capital City of the State of New York.

UN Meeting on Happiness & Well-Being that was held in New York City – April 2-4, 2012:

Developing a New Economic Paradigm

and as well the movie HAPPY by award winning director Roko Belic

that had its own Global Discussion about Happiness with HAPPY Worldwide Movie Premiere

of Feb. 11, 2012  –  that was organized as a “World Happy Day”


The film HAPPY was inspired by a challenge. Executive producer Tom Shadyac (Bruce Almighty, Liar, Liar, Patch Adams) read a New York Times article ranking the U.S. 23rd in happiness. He asked Belic to find out why.

Belic investigated questions like,

•What is happiness and where does it come from?

•How do we balance the allure for money, power and social status with our need for strong social relationships, health and personal fulfillment?

Viewers are treated to a global cinematic quest that travels from the bayous of Louisiana to the deserts of Namibia, from the beaches of Brazil to the mountains of Bhutan and beyond. Stories of joy, connection, adversity and courage are interspersed with interviews of several of the world’s leading experts in the science of happiness and well-being.


The PRESS release for the UN-sponsored Bhutan-led events – New York City – April 2 – 4, 2012:

The high-level meeting on “Happiness and Well Being: Defining A New Economic Paradigm” convened by the Royal Government of Bhutan on April 2 at United Nations headquarters in New York City took a major step towards a sustainable, holistic, inclusive, and equitable new economic development paradigm for the global community.

The conference was attended by about 700 political and government leaders, scholars, economists, philosophers, scientists, media, civil society, UN officials, entrepreneurs, and spiritual leaders from the world’s major faiths. Two hundred participants continued intensive discussions on April 3 and 4 to work out details of the goals of the conference: to submit a report  to the Secretary General of the United Nations for distribution to all UN member states; to distribute a set of recommendations for national economic policies, based on happiness and well beingWell-being, to all heads of government around the world; to draft a new development paradigm to be submitted to the UN General Assembly next year; and to build a global movement and design a communications strategy to enhance the global understanding of well-being and happiness and advance the new economic paradigm.

The conference proposed that the Bhutanese Prime Minister, Jigmi Yoezer Thinley, convene a commission of experts to expand on the dimensions of the new economy. The Prime Minister will also present the report of the conference at the Rio+20 United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, to be held in Brazil in June of this year.

“A great beginning has been made but it is the end that we must strive for,” Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley said at the conclusion of the three-day discussions. “I hope that by 2015 the international community will have adopted a sustainability-based economic paradigm committed to promoting true human well-being and happiness, and ensuring, at the same time,, the survival of all species with  which we share this planet.”

Inspired by the Bhutanese development philosophy of Gross National Happiness, the April 2 conference was a follow up to the 2011 United Nations Resolution that invited member countries “to pursue the elaboration of additional 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 resolution was co-sponsored by 68 countries and endorsed by all the member nations of the United Nations.

“Gross National Product has long been the yardstick by which economies and politicians have been measured,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, when he inaugurated the conference. “Yet it fails to take into account the social and environmental costs of so-called progress. Bhutan recognized the supremacy of national happiness over national income in the early 1970s.”

Among the U.N. leadership and representatives of governments were the President of the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Nassir Abdul Aziz Al-Nasser; President of the Economic and Social Council, Mr. Miloš Koterec ; and the UNDP Administrator, Ms. Helen Clark, who chaired the opening session. High-level representatives of governments around the world addressed the conference, with the keynote address given by Ms. Laura Chinchilla, President of the Republic of Costa Rica, a country which is universally recognized for its outstanding achievements in environmental conservation and its exemplary sustainable development record.

Ms. Chinchilla said that there were many paths to happiness. “Human history, as well as current realities, teaches us that the paths to well-being are deeply connected to the respect for dignity, and the creation of opportunities to freely pursue our full and harmonious realization as part of the natural and social milieu,” she said. “But the more global initiative, unanimously embraced by the United Nations, is the one launched by Bhutan. It is thanks to this initiative that we have met today, in this house of all the people of the United Nations, and from now on we will be players in its evolution.””

Representing the Prime Minister of India, the Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Mrs. Jayanthi Natarajan, thanked Bhutan for bringing happiness to the discourse on sustainable development. “We share your belief that human development should be based in equal measure on material progress, social inclusion, cultural life and living in harmony with nature,” she said. “Our religious traditions,traditions and philosophies have all taught us to look for inner peace and happiness as the ultimate objective.”

The conference focused on a new economic paradigm in a perspective of four dimensions with well-being and happiness as the accepted purpose of development. “I believe that the majority of people around the world today are contemplating the issue of the soundness of the present way of life and the need for a different way of life,” said Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley. “They are seeking a way of life that is more meaningful, sustainable, just and equitable, a way of life that will lead each of us to an ultimate goal,goal, and that is happiness.”

Expert panelists spoke on strategies to reach this goal. Professor Robert Costanza, Distinguished University Professor of Sustainability at Portland State University, and Editor-in-Chief of Solutions magazine, pointed out that there had been dramatic changes in the world. “We no longer live in a relatively empty world,” he said. “We live in a whole new geologic era. We’ve also framed this issue in a very negative way. We need a better way of integrating these different perspectives. We’re also learning that complex systems behave in complex ways. We can’t expect things to behave smoothly… And the basic point here is that sustainable human happiness requires a healthy ecological life system, so I think that’s one of the primary building blocks of a sustainable and desirable future.”

Ms. Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, and the Former President of the Republic of Chile, said that the goal of human well-being must include all of humanity – women and men, girls and boys. “When I’m talking about inclusiveness, I’m talking about what is the kind of world we are dealing with today where, out of seven billion people 5.1 billion, or 75% of the world, are not covered with any minimal social security – a world that is so high in inequalities,” she said. “We need ethical leadership that can ensure fair distribution that is demanded everywhere, by those who are crying and asking for freedom and social justice in their world… so we need leadership to uproot greed, corruption, and repression.”

Professor Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate and Professor of Economics, Columbia University, said that efficient use of resources was critical. “What we measure affects what we do, and the reason for creating better metrics is to affect our policy, and that’s why it’s so important what Bhutan has done – Gross National Happiness – it really does change policy frameworks,” he said. “We have to be very conscious that people in our society, different people are experiencing different things, and our commitment to equitable development means that we have to focus on the experiences not of the average but on what’s happening to all of our citizens, including those at the bottom and middle.”

While panelists focused on the dimensions of the new economic paradigm, the conference heard impassioned statements by personalities known for seminal academic work and thinking on happiness, well-being, sustainability, the economy and spiritual traditions. The Venerable Matthieu Ricard, Buddhist scholar, of the Shechen Monastery, Nepal, emphasized the importance of mind training and interpretation of happiness as a skill. “In the end, it is our mind that translates the outer conditions into either genuine happiness or misery,” he explained. “It is our mind that we deal with from morning till evening. It is our minds that can be our best friends, our worst enemy. So we should not underestimate the power of mind to conjour happiness or suffering. Happiness is a way of being that comes with genuine altruistic love and, serenity, which, that can be cultivated as a skill day after day, month after month.”

On April 1, 2012, one A day before the conference the Earth Institute at Columbia University hosted a meeting of about 100 academics, scientists, and philosophers, including four Nobel Laureates, and unveiled the “World Happiness Report”. The report presents methodological tools, assessment procedures, and scientific support for the measurement of happiness as a development indicator and also grades the countries of the world on these new dimensions.

According to Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, large-scale collection of happiness data will improve macroeconomic policy-making and can inform service delivery. “Four steps to improve policy-making are the measurement of happiness, explanation of happiness, putting happiness at the centre of analysis, and translation of well-being research into design and delivery of services,” he said.

Among the distinguished spiritual leaders were Abbot Roshi Joan Halifax, Venerable Matthieu Ricard, Swami Atmapriyananda, Rabbi Awarham Soetendorp, Kalsang Gyaltsen, Jane Carpenter, Ken Kitatani, and others, who addressed the conference on the importance of well-being and happiness from spiritual perspectives, and led the gathering in silent meditation and prayer.

The United Nations Conference on Well-being and Happiness was watched by several million people through conventional and social media that allowed both images and sounds of the visibly enthusiastic media to be picked up by the digital world..

The Bhutanese delegates at the conference said that the global response was overwhelming and that the expectations of the global community were somewhat intimidating and also inspiring for Bhutan.

For Further Details, Please Contact:

Sonam Tobgay

The Permanent Mission of Bhutan

Tel: 1-646-705-2313


Posted on on April 13th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

We had this originally on April 8, 2012.


WHAT? The United States Declaration of Independence contains the famous promise of “…unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” What is happiness? What is the pursuit of happiness? What can we do to increase personal happiness and the happiness of our communities?

When? Friday, April 13, 2012 is Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday. We can thank Jefferson and Ben Franklin for winning the debate about whether to write “pursuit of property” or “pursuit of happiness”.

Where? Everywhere! Colleges, Schools, Communities, Town squares, Parks, Places of Worship, Hospitals, your workplace, anywhere!

Who? Anyone can organize events and discussions in their local area. Talk to the schools, talk to community groups, University faculty and students, anyone.

Program? Think of Pursuit of Happiness Day like the first Earth Day – a chance for the people to talk about and discuss our futures and how to build more happiness into that future.

Videos and Films
Potluck meals
Music, singing, drumming circles
Street Theater
Happiness Circles
Cooperative Games for all ages
Dance – circle dances, have fun
Running, walking or bicycling, swimming, skiing events
Guest Lectures
Yoga in the park
Poetry Slams, readings, post poems around town or campus
Art, public art, spontaneous art
Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, media
Make videos and share them
Cherish the environment – cleanups, improvements, gardens for all
Help others

For example, we imagine that universities and schools can provide programs that bring many perspectives to the pursuit of happiness. Psychology Departments can lead discussions on Positive Psychology research, Philosophy Departments can provide discussions on the meaning of happiness through the centuries, Economics Departments can discuss happiness economics, Management Departments can discuss happiness in the workplace, Literature Departments can provide readings, Environmental Studies Departments can discuss how closer relationships with nature nurtures happiness, Social Work Departments can discuss research on how volunteering improves community and individual well-being, Art Departments can assign projects which can be displaced on POH Day, science departments canand on and on.

Any individual or organization can organize events in their living rooms or big auditoriums or in Parks. Just do it! Use social media to coordinate and advertise when and where.

Let’s all make Pursuit of Happiness Day a great moment for the good and happiness of all, for the people, for the planet. Let’s choose happiness together!


Posted on on April 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The country believes that for a holistic development of the individual and society, it is essential that development achieve a sustainable balance between the economic, social, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs of the people. This has lead to the declared continuous process towards achieving a balance between the material and the intangible needs of the individuals or society. The concept reminds the country that the means must always be considered in terms of the end and, therefore, therefore, every step in material development and change must be measured and evaluated to ensure that it will lead to happiness, not just more development.

Gross National Happiness.

as per –…

Three factors have exerted great influence on the course of Bhutan’s development.

The first being continuous culture. As Bhutan was never conquered or colonized, the country developed a culture relatively free from outside influence, the institution of monarchy, and a deep sense of nationhood.

The second factor is the environment, which is protected by mountains, often-difficult terrain.

Thirdly, Mahayana Buddhism has given the country a view of the world on which the present king, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck and his late father Jigme Dorji Wangchuck based their policies of developing Bhutan’s potential in every field.

This continuing development of Bhutan has bee crystallized in a philosophy crafted by His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, known as ” Gross National Happiness ” (GNH) in the late 1980s.The concept of GNH defines Bhutan’s development objective as improvement in the happiness and satisfaction of the people rather than growth of Gross National Product (GNP). GNH has been the overarching development philosophy of Bhutan as the concept has guided the country’s development policies and program. GNH suggests that happiness is the ultimate objective of development. It recognizes that there area many dimensions to development other than those associated with Gross National Product (GNP), and that development needs to be understood as a process that seeks to maximize happiness rather purely economic growth.

The country believes that for a holistic development of the individual and society, it is essential that development achieve a sustainable balance between the economic, social, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs of the people. This has lead to the declared continuous process towards achieving a balance between the material and the intangible needs of the individuals or society. The concept reminds the country that the means must always be considered in terms of the end and, therefore, therefore, every step in material development and change must be measured and evaluated to ensure that it will lead to happiness, not just more development.

Having accepted that the maximization of Gross National Happiness (GHP) is a philosophy and objective of the country’s development, it was felt necessary to more clearly identify the main areas, and create the conditions to enable the people to attain greater happiness. Recognizing that a wide range of factors contribute to human well-being and happiness and that it may not be possible to exhaustively define or list everything for the purpose of it’s development planning.

Bhutan has identified four major areas as the main pillars of Gross National Happiness. These are economic growth and development, preservation and promotion of cultural heritage, preservation and sustainable use of the environment, and good governance.

Guided by the ideas of Gross National Happiness (GNH), Bhutan has been making steady progress in every sector toward the goal of modernization. Hydroelectric power, economically the most significant sector for Bhutan’s goal of self-sustaining development, has grown impressively. The education, social services and health sectors have made great strides forward and continue to be the most important social components of the country’s development program. The government’s fiscal situation has been improving steadily. Progress has been made in the development of human resources and the legal infrastructure. Full executive responsibility for the running the government has been vested upon the Council of Ministers, elected by the National Assembly.


– HSM  is a sustainable welfare indicator adopting the Triple Bottom Line  (Society, Environment and Economy)

–  Social indicators from the perspective of sustainability

– As one of the early steps of developing HSM, weighting coefficients of the six categories were calculated using the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) method.

–  HSM Ver. 6 (including “democracy” as the No. 5 indicator)

– HSM of BRICS countries, BASIC countries, and Scandinavian countries

–  The reason why the Japanese HSM value is the lowest


– Conclusion:

for the sustainability of future generations

None of all the current happiness indicators are yet considering the sustainability of future generations

Examples of indicators that express the sustainability of future generations:

– Children’s poverty index (under 18 years old)

– Unemployment rate of 15-24 years old, etc.

– The Japanese environment value is the lowest, with the largest overshoot among the 18 countries


Posted on on April 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Dr. Terue Ohashi, Visiting Professor, Graduate Course in Strategic Environmental Science, Tohoku University, Japan.

Governance and Political Participation.

A Happy Society Includes Caring About Future Generations: That is Sustainable Governance.


Key Contents of the Presentation:

–  Government, both central and local, has responsibility for the happiness of the people. Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)

– The happiness of future generations is of the same importance as the happiness of the present generation. That is sustainability or sustainable development.

–  Democracy is the indicator of sustainability:

– Comparison of Japanese and Swedish democracy.

– Many Sustainable Happiness Indicators are now in progress:

OECD well-being indicators, ESRI well-being indicators, GNH (Bhutan), ISEW/GPI, HSM (Human Satisfaction Measure), etc. The indicator of happiness should include the sustainability of future generations.


as per –

some of the items listed in the Power Poins are:

–  Government, both central and local, has responsibility for the happiness of the people.

–  Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) who suggested “The greatest happiness of the greatest number” wrote that government should owe responsibility for people’s happiness and parliamentary democracy can achieve it. (1822)

–  Many organizations try to develop Happiness Indicator and conduct research:

OECD (2011): OECD Well-Being Indicator

ESRI (2011): Well-Being Indicator

Deutsche Post (2011): The German Happiness Atlas

GNH (Gross National Happiness):

Bhutan attempted the 3rd GNH feasibility research in 2010

GAH (Gross Arakawa Happiness):

Arakawa Ward, Tokyo is trying to develop GAH

Nikkei developed the 3rd sustainable city research in 2011

–  The happiness of future generations is of the same importance as the happiness of the present generation.
That is sustainability or sustainable development.

–  Sustainable development is the key for governance: – The definition of sustainable development?

“There are hundreds of definitions about sustainable development.” (UNESCO)

The most recent definition of sustainable development:

Sustainability is not exclusively an environmental issue. It is fundamentally about how we choose to live our lives, with an awareness that everything we do has consequences for the 7 billion of us here today, as well as for the billions more who will follow, for centuries to come. Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP (2011) (HDR 2011, Sustainability and Equity)

–  Sustainability should be measured using backcasting:  from Future generation -to – Present generation.

so the question is –  For the future generation, what shall we do now?

–  Forecasting is from Past to  Present  and is the  Usual thinking

–  Compared to the past, we think we are happier now than in the past

We need now a way of SUSTAINABLE THINKING.

–  Different definitions: How are future generation’s environmental rights guaranteed and assured in some countries?

–  Germany: The state is responsible for the environmental rights of future generations. (Chapter 20a of the      constitution, 1994)

– Sweden:   (a) Public institutions shall promote sustainable development leading to a good environment for present and future generations. (The Instrument of Government Ch. 1)  ….   (b) Present and future generations are ensured to live a healthy life in a comfortable environment. (The Swedish Environmental Code Ch. 1, 1999)

–  Bhutan: Every Bhutanese is a trustee of the Kingdom’s natural resources and environment for the benefit of the present and future generations. (The Constitution of The Kingdom of Bhutan. Article 5, 1, 2005 version)

– Japan: Present and future generations must be able to enjoy the benefits from a healthy and rich environment. (Fundamental Law of Environment Ch. 3, 1993)


–  Other important definitions of Sustainable Development:

The Triple Bottom Line (Society, Environment and Economy) should be audited.

–  Democracy is the indicator of sustainability.

–  “Democracy” is an important indicator for sustainability.

Acting as an axle, democracy is at the core of a happy and sustainable society. Consequently, I suggest democracy as another indicator for people’s happiness, and sustainability.

–  Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), who suggested “The greatest happiness of the greatest number” said that parliamentary democracy can achieve it. (1822)

–  Amartya Sen – In a democratic country, big hunger will never occur. (1999)

– Frey & Stutzer – A democratic government can make people happier. (2002)

–  Comparison of democracy between Japan and Sweden

– Differences between Japan and Sweden in the response to the open-ended question in the “Ideal Society Part?” study. (Japan 2007, Sweden 2008)

Q: What type of society do you consider to be an ideal society with a high level of happiness and satisfaction?

Sweden: Democracy, equality and education

Japan: Society has no gap –  About the training to debate, 83.1% of Japanese respondents have not received any, while 68.0?% of
Swedish people have received the training to debate.

– Democracy is to debate, after getting correct, transparent and high quality information (OECD rule). In terms of the percentage of always, usually and often getting such information, Sweden scores higher than Japan.

– Japanese respondents are more likely than Swedish to think that the parliament does not represent their opinions and ideas.

– Sweden is an advanced country as a democratic society.

– Since the 1500s, the Swedish parliament has existed consisting of 4 social groups (aristocrats, priests, common people and farmers) and the 4 classes were equal.

(In the 1400s-1500s, Japan was in the Muromachi period (1392-1573). Feudal lords conquered each other, and there was no room for democratic debate as in the case of Sweden)

– In the 1800s, Sweden democracy was established.

– In 1809, The Instrument of Government that was oldest constitution in Europe was enacted.

– Political parties came into existence from 1866.

– In 1889 the Social Democratic Party was established.

– In 1928, the leader of the Social Democratic party P. A. Hansson became the prime minister, and described the future image of the country as “The people’s home” (folkhemmet).

– This ideology is the foundation for the building of the Swedish welfare state based on fairness, justice and the equality of democracy.

– In Japan, real democracy was introduced in 1945 after World War?by GHQ.

Small democratic movements also occurred:

– Jiyu Minken Undo (1874-1883)

– Taisho Democracy (1905-1925)

– Shyo Nippon Shugi by Tanzan Ishibashi (1910-1920)

– The Voting rate of Japan, Sweden and Bhutan Japan gives us reliance on the voting booth.

– Many Sustainable Happiness Indicators are now in progress. One of them is HSM (Human Satisfaction Measure)

Posted on on April 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Happiness Initiative

Get the Tool Kit

Susan Andrews is, as the Prime Minister of Bhutan says, the ambassador of Gross National Happiness in Brazil. Her life changed 20 years ago when the Prime Minister asked “Why is Bhutan the only country pursuing GrossNational Happiness whenhappiness is the ultimate goal of all people.”

She showed us her work in Brazil to bring to there communities of trust that focus on the goal of sustainable development.The mayor of a city near San Paulo is using GNH to engage and enhance his city. Compassion and wellbeing are part of the curricula schools. Children learn the art of clowning as “doctors of joy.” Children learn to bring joy and love to thier parents. The youth surveyed neighbors on the domains of happiness, then coordinated neighborhood town meetings to discuss the results and makechanges in their community. They were trained in conducting survey, and able to conduce a random sample with 5% accuracy. With professionals, they coordinate a town meeting based on the world cafe model. The community became aware of where there was need for basic healthcare, and took action. They saw where single mothers could use support, and gave it. Local government and businesses saw where they could work together to better serve people’s needs.Communities became stronger and kids disengaged from school got interested and involved. The kids got healthier, more idealistic and happier.

Susan finished by defining power: the ability to influence other – by a carrot or stick. But now, its changed. Its the ability to attract. Not whose army wins but whose story ends. With happiness, we have the best story – its not only a story of a new economy, of sustainability, but a story of the heart.
The above is from a blog – that covered the April 2012 Happiness events at the UN in  New York City.


Posted on on April 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

In the shadow of the GNH sun.

By all accounts, the high level meeting on happiness and well being, convened by the Bhutanese government last week at the UN headquarters in New York, to define a new economic paradigm for the global community was a landmark beginning.

The Bhutanese delegation reportedly felt overwhelmed by the response, and intimidated by the expectations of the global community.

To be able to influence the global community towards a new economic model that is more sustainable, holistic, inclusive, and equitable takes some doing, and Bhutan has done that.  It should be a matter of pride for every Bhutanese.

At home though, the mood has been anything but happy, with critics and skeptics labelling the meeting as a waste of time and resources.  The Indian Rupee situation has not helped either, with it basically blanking out everything else, exposing some structural weaknesses, and leading to a good deal of discourse on what should be done to be more financially secure.

But critics and skeptics are, and rightfully so, pointing to the problems facing this country of GNH, and questioning why so little attention is being paid to them by leaders and decision makers.  These outpourings could be interpreted as citizens in a democratic Bhutan, exercising their right to expression, even if there is nothing good to say; instead of just saying the politically correct thing, without really meaning it.

GNH may have taken birth in Bhutan, but most agree, including the leaders, that Bhutan is far from being a GNH country.  There is so much more to do, because the business of happiness is a serious one.

Yet, as much as the world needs a new economic paradigm Bhutan also needs as much the GNH vision to keep it from going off course because there are indications that it just might.

While the world’s greed in ravishing the planet is scoffed at, here citizens are morphing from needy to greedy consumers.  That is why the GNH vision is so relevant to Bhutan and her citizens.

In last week’s meeting, the global community identified four dimensions for the new economy: wellbeing and happiness; ecological sustainability; fair distribution; and efficient use of increasingly scarce resources.

With Bhutan to take the lead on further expanding the basic construct of the new economy, there is much to do to put wellbeing and happiness at the centre of development, not only for the global community, but also and especially at home.


Posted on on April 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

What Legacy Do You Want To Leave To Your Children? Have A look At What You Have And  Be Thankful.

Ode_to_N.pps Ode_to_N.pps
6499K   View Download


Posted on on April 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

At – in “About Us”  we say it all the time:

Our definition of Sustainable Development is: GREEN DEVELOPMENT, HAPPINESS, and PROSPERITY.

We humbly take serious the following dictums:

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
(Albert Einstein 1879-1955)

“I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.”
(Galileo Galilei 1564-1642)

“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.”
(Socrates 469 B.C.-399 B.C.)

“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
(Albert Einstein)


It is thus –


rather then the original –


the compromise that the Brundtland Commission of 1987 and the following Global Summit of 1992 – the original UN Conference on the Environment and Development – were able to pass at the UN. We suggest that in the redo of the basic concept at the RIO+20 it should be changed to this more basic and clearer definition.


Posted on on April 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

UNDP Human Development Report for Bhutan Highlights Climate Change Threats.

UNDP 1 September 2011: The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has released the third National Human Development Report for Bhutan, titled “Sustaining Progress: Rising to the Climate Challenge.” The report notes that climate change is threatening the economic and human development gains that contribute to Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) and that building resilience is crucial to safeguard the livelihoods of about a quarter of the Bhutanese population who depend on subsistence farming and natural resources.

Bhutan has committed to environmental conservation and to remain a carbon neutral country. The report underlines that due to an export ban on unprocessed forest timber and the constitutional protection of 60% of the country’s forest cover, Bhutan has maintained its status as a net sink for greenhouse gases (GHGs). Nevertheless, it warns that melting of the country’s glaciers can lead to water shortages in the future and jeopardize the hydropower sector, which the economy is dependent on.

In order to increase climate resilience, the report recommends integrating climate policies, strategies and action plans into national poverty reduction strategies and development plans. It calls for the promotion of a green development and for further control of potentially harmful activities, such as logging, mining, mass tourism and the use of pesticides. The report further recommends: establishing baseline climate information and data; expanding ongoing climate financing mechanisms; and improving management systems in climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, forests and water resources. The Bhutan National Human Development report is the result of a collaboration between UNDP and the GNH Commission Secretariat of the Government of Bhutan.


Bhutan National Human Development Report 2011: Sustaining Progress – Rising to the Climate Challenge

[UNDP Press Release]


Posted on on April 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Commission, lead by the prime minister, screens all policy proposals put forward and denies them if they are thought to be contrary to promoting happiness among the people [GALLO/GETTY]

By Stewart, April 1, 2012 – and this was not an April Fool’s Day Joke – it was a very serious event – please!

Stewart Patrick is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security. He has also the attention of Fareed Zakaria of CNN/GPS.

At first glance, this Monday’s high-level event in the U.N. General Assembly would appear to confirm the worst suspicions of U.N. skeptics. Given all the crises engulfing the globe, what geniuses in New York decided to have the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan host a daylong special session on “Happiness.”What the heck is going on in Turtle Bay? More than meets the eye, in fact. One of the hottest fields in development economics has been, believe it or not, happiness research. And it turns out that the Bhutan government in Thimpu may have something wise to say on the subject.

In recent years, a small but influential group of economists has concluded that traditional measurements of national progress, typically couched in terms of per capita Gross National Product (GNP), don’t actually tell us much about the wellbeing of citizens. This is partly a critique of modernization theory, which suggests that human welfare advances in lockstep with material enrichment.

In fact, as pioneering researchers like Carol Graham of the Brookings Institution and the University of Maryland have shown, there’s little correlation between national income and contentment. Some of the highest levels of happiness have been recorded in low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa, for example.

This comes as no news to the Bhutanese. Although one of the poorest countries in the world according to conventional ways of measuring growth, with a per capita income the World Bank estimates at $670, Bhutan is also, according to Business Week, the happiest country in Asia and the eighth happiest in the world. Some forty years ago, the grandfather of the current constitutional monarch, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel, began popularizing the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) to replace GNP as a gauge of national progress. Improbably, the concept has taken off.

Over the past decade, the 800,000-person kingdom has become a Mecca – or rather Shangri-la – for Western policymakers and development experts seeking enlightenment on the secrets of national happiness in an age of globalization. Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureates both, are converts. So too is Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and tireless campaigner for the Millennium Development Goals. On August 10-12 of last year, Sachs traveled to Thimpu to co-host with Prime Minister Jigme Thinley the Bhutan Conference on Happiness and Economic Development.

Two weeks later, Bhutan hit the big-time, when the U.N. General Assembly passed Resolution 65/309 (PDF) titled, “Happiness: Towards a Holistic Approach to Development.” Endorsing the monarchy’s basic point, the resolution conceded: “the gross domestic product indicator by nature was not designed to and does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being in a country.” More pointedly, it implied that public policies in many countries have encouraged “unsustainable patterns of production and consumption,” at the expense of “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and well-being of peoples.”

Monday’s high-Level meeting on “Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” raises the GNH concept to new heights. Prince Charles will address the event with a pre-recorded message, and both Sachs and Stiglitz will speak, alongside national and international dignitaries, including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The conversation will likely recapitulate themes from last year’s conference, which called on governments to integrate a “happiness agenda” into public policy. Some proposed steps seem sensible, such as reducing extreme suffering and deprivation, focusing on education, empowering local communities, protecting ecological systems, and investing in mental health.


Stewart Patrick also wrote:

But other proposals could prove more controversial, for instance building “awareness and avoidance of pure status goods,” to say nothing of “controlling the media in a way that doesn’t limit freedom but restrains the creation of artificial cravings.” Such aspirations could lend themselves to caricature, as blatant assaults on the free market by misguided social engineers seeking to escape modernity.

The champions of GNH have tried to inoculate themselves from this critique. “The happiness agenda should not be considered anti-technological or anti-material,” reads the conference summary from last August. “There is no going back to a simpler life, for a basic arithmetic reason. We are now seven billion people with a tremendous difficulty of provision, meeting the needs of people, being able to operate complex societies. Any attempt to turn back technology would lead to devastation.”

The Tea Party, in other words can breathe easy. The Buddhists of Bhutan have no designs on the capitalist system, or the rest of our freedoms. In fact, the Land of the Thunder Dragon may have more in common with the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave than you might imagine. After all, they share the fundamental aspiration enunciated in America’s founding document: the pursuit of happiness.


Bhutan Prime Minister Jigme Yoezer Thinley
In Bhutan, national policy emphasises increasing people’s happiness, rather than income. ( 10-Sep-2011 )


Posted on on April 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

As they say in Bhutan, Tashi Dalek! (roughly translates as “Blessings and good luck”).


New York City, In and around the UN Headquarters, April 2-4, 2012.


Experts and representatives from all sectors of society gathered at the United Nations, Monday, April 2, 2012 for a landmark day-long conference and two subsequent days of working groups on “Happiness and Well-being; Defining a New Economic Paradigm,” hosted by the Royal Government of Bhutan.  The landmark gathering addressed next steps towards realizing the vision of a new development paradigm that replaces the present narrow system based on GDP (Gross Domestic Product) with a “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) model.

The current measurement as defined by GDP is dysfunctional, based on the pursuit of material wealth, and the unsustainable premise of limitless growth on a finite planet, while the Bhutan-originated GNH model is holistic, integrating economic, environmental and social measures and objectives.

“A great beginning has been made but it is the end that we must strive for,” Bhutan’s Prime Minister, Jigmi Yoezer Thinley, said at the conclusion of the three-day discussions. “I hope that by 2015 the international community will have adopted a sustainability-based economic paradigm committed to promoting true human well-being and happiness, and ensuring at the same time, the survival of all species with which we share this planet.”

Gross National Happiness is defined by the Bhutan government as a holistic philosophy or development paradigm based on the belief that the ultimate goal of every human individual is happiness, so governments must ensure this human right and take responsibility to create those conditions that will enable citizens to pursue this value and goal.

The conference identified four dimensions for the proposed new economic development paradigm: well-being and happiness; ecological sustainability; fair distribution; and efficient use of increasingly scarce resources. “The new economy will be an economy based on a genuine vision of life’s ultimate meaning and purpose ? an economy that does not cut us off from nature and community but fosters true human potential, fulfillment, and satisfaction,” said Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley.

The historical meeting brought together a select but representative group of government officials, United Nations staff, diplomats, Nobel Laureates, scholars in diverse fields, leading economists and psychologists, representatives of non-governmental organizations, think tanks and advocacy centers, and spiritual and civil society leaders. Panelists and attendees were from both – from developed and developing nations.

The extent of global support for Gross National Happiness was evident in the participation at Monday’s conference of high level representatives from countries around the world, including Finland, India, Japan, Israel, Costa Rica, Thailand, Morocco, Australia. and the United Kingdom.

Noting India’s cultural ties with Bhutan, Mrs. Jayanthi Natarajan, India’s Honorable Minister of State for Environment and Forests, endorsed the need for a new economic paradigm, quoting Mahatma Ghandi, father of the Indian nation, as saying, “Nature provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” She pledged India’s cooperation in the effort.

Remarks by eco-feminist Dr. Vandana Shiva, Founder of Navdanya, Recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, which supports farmers, highlighted the concordant need to attend to the world food problem, and received considerable approbation by the audience.

Mr. Joe Nakano, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, expressed appreciation for ongoing support to Japan in the wake of last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake. He emphasized the importance of bonds that matter most to people (“kizuna” in Japanese), and the “Paradox of Happiness,” in which, in many developed countries, happiness is not proportional to economic wealth.  A Council on National Strategy and Policy is now following up with visions and concrete measures for government policy-making based on a study published by a Japanese government commission last December, which proposed 130 well-being indicators focusing on bonds between families, communities and nature.  Japan also hosted an Asian-Pacific Conference on Measuring Well-being and Fostering the Progress of Societies in cooperation with the Asian Development Bank and other entities.

Parliamentary speaker Mr. Eero Heinaluoma of Finland pointed out that Finland was one of the first countries to agree on a national set of sustainable development indicators and tools for such measurement in the late 1990s, and committed his country to mainstreaming new measures in its policy-making.

Other addresses were delivered by the Honorable Tim Fischer, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, a country which has implemented carbon taxes to reduce carbon emissions; Mr. Gilad Erdan, Minister of Environmental Protection for the Government of Israel, who spoke of their leadership in alternative energy and clean technology, especially in regard to water shortages; from the Kingdom of Morocco; High Commissioner for Planning Mr. Ahmed Lahlimi Alami, whose country has taken major steps to reduce poverty; the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs from Thailand, Mr. Jullapong Nonsrichai, who referred to the Thai concept of “sufficient economy”; and Lord Gus O’Donnell, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, who related its new well-being policy and measures. The British Government has instructed its office for National Statistics to begin measuring well-being in the United Kingdom.  The commitment of Great Britain to the Bhutan initiative was confirmed by the Prince of Wales who said in a video message that such a new paradigm is “an essential task that cannot be ignored.”

“Happiness is a sentiment that nests within each person,” said the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla Miranda, in her keynote address. “There are many paths to reach it.  But human history, as well as current realities, teaches us that the paths to Well-being are deeply connected to the respect for dignity and the creation of opportunities to freely pursue our full and harmonious realization as part of the natural and social milieu.” Costa Rica, recognized for its exemplary sustainable development record, was the top-rated nation on the Happy Planet Index, combining its green ecology with reports of high levels of life satisfaction by its citizens.

The meetings were endorsed by the Member States of the United Nations General Assembly, reflected in Resolution 65/309 passed July 2011, when 68 countries co-sponsored the  Bhutan-initiated resolution titled “Happiness: Toward a Holistic Approach to Development.”

Support from the United Nations was also evident in the participation of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, President of the General Assembly Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, and President of the Economic and Social Council, Mr. Milos Koterec, all of whom gave opening comments. The Administrator for the United Nations Development Fund, Helen Clark, served as moderator.

“Gross National Product has long been the yardstick by which economies and politicians have been measured,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his inaugural address to the conference, “yet it fails to take into account the social and environmental costs of so-called progress.”

Four panels made presentations on ecological sustainability, efficient use of resources, fair distribution, and well-being and happiness, including presentations by the President of the Centre for Bhutan Studies Karma Ura and the Secretary of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Commission, Karma Tshiteem.

Well-being is postulated as an important social indicator of development, which adds value to purely economic indicators; this is viewed as especially important for policy makers in this development model in which public happiness and well-being are their goals.

Eminent expert speakers represented the two aspects of the initiative – economic and psychological.  Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, endorsing the value and importance of the concept of well-being, said “Whatever the indicators we use, whether it’s Well-being or others, we have to be very conscious that …people are experiencing different things, and our commitment to equitable development means that we have to focus on the experiences not of the average but on what’s happening to all of our citizens, including those at the bottom and middle.” According to Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of British Columbia, John F. Helliwell, the world is moving toward both a green economy as well as policies that pay more attention to the quality of people’s lives.

Noted psychologist Martin Seligman founder of Positive Psychology (based on tenets of empathy, resilience, positive thinking, traits, relationships and institutions), emphasized the importance of Gross National Happiness in the mental health of peoples around the world.  Alarmingly high rates of depression worldwide underscore the relevance of such an index.

Happiness is a state and a trait and a skill and can be learned, noted Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs.

In an appeal for a more green economy as well as concern for common good, David Cadman said, “We are living in a rock star mentality, as if there were no tomorrow.”

Prayers were given throughout the meetings by spiritual leaders from Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist faiths.

While happiness has been critiqued as a naïve concept that cannot be measured, presentations at a pre-conference meeting at Columbia University refuted that idea.  Economists and experts from many fields presented “the “World Happiness Report,” released to coincide with the conference.  The report lends considerable credibility to a happiness index by presenting methodological approaches and measurement tools to assess development.  The result was extensive country rankings along nine “domains” or well-being indices, including community vitality, cultural and ecological diversity and resilience, good governance, health, education, living standards, time use, and psychosocial well-being (e.g. “life satisfaction” and “positive affect”). The report is co-edited by Professor Emeritus of Economics John F. Helliwell, Director of the Well-being Programme at the London School of Economics Lord Richard Layard and The Earth Institute Director Jeffrey D. Sachs.

Countering critiques about limits of measurement of well-being and happiness, Chief Statistician from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, Ms. Martine Durand, described their “Better Life Initiative in Measuring Well-being and Progress.”

Although Bhutan is a small country, larger developed nations and their leaders are already committed to the new ways of measuring development and progress, including the British Prime Minister David Cameron, and France’s President Nikolas Sarkozy.  Both leaders commissioned Nobel Prize-winning economists Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen to examine new ways of measuring social progress. Sarkozy has said that the focus on GDP as the main measure of prosperity helped trigger the financial crisis; he ordered France’s statistics agency to integrate the findings of the study into future economic analysis.

The Gross National Happiness model has already been applied in cities, communities and corporations and schools in Brazil, a country that sent a considerable number of attendees to the conference. Susan Andrews, founder of the Brazil-based Fortune Vision Institute, showed a film about a large-scale effort in a Brazilian city whose students polled citizens about their happiness.

In two subsequent days, volunteers participated in break-out groups and came together to share plans and progress to help advance the Happiness agenda in four areas: strategic planning, expert and scholars, civil society involvement, and communications.

The planned outcomes were to submit a report on the conference to the Secretary General of the United Nations; to distribute a set of recommendations for national economic policies based on happiness and well-being to heads of governments around the world; to draft a new development paradigm; and to design a communications strategy to enhance the global understanding of well-being and happiness.

“Happiness is a way of being that comes with genuine altruistic love – serenity – that can be cultivated as a skill day after day, month after month,” said Buddhist scholar Matthieu Ricard. “Now one thing that is clear is that the pursuit of happiness is intimately linked with altruism. There’s no such thing as a successful selfish happiness… Happiness and altruism are not a luxury, they are a necessity.”

The movement has already spawned civil society organizations committed to the cause, including Gross National Happiness World Project, Gross National Happiness USA, a government-sponsored Happiness Project in Japan, the London-based Action for Happiness and the Observatoire International du Bonheur in France (Happiness Observatory), which offers legal tools and research on happiness, as well as entrepreneurship enterprises like GNHappiness, which provides consultation for business transformation.

Youth involvement was an important goal identified by the planning working group, consistent with the emphasis on youth by many United Nations initiatives. At the concluding ceremony, student Latoya Mistral Ferns presented her model of an interactive television show, currently being piloted at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, in which youth interview the public on the topic of happiness.

Since governments can make laws, but citizens must abide by them, reactions were important to gauge. Comments and questions from participants, interspersed between panelist presentations, revealed widespread enthusiasm and commitment to the GNH campaign.

In the year 2015, the Millennium Development Goals, as outlined by the United Nations, will formally come to an end (these include the eradication of poverty, improving maternal and child health, promoting gender equality, and combating HIV/AIDS malaria and other communicable diseases); the governments of the world will consider new Sustainable Development Goals for the years to follow.  Looking towards this time, Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley said, “I hope that by the year 2015, the international community would have integrated a sustainability-based economic paradigm committed to promoting true human well-being and happiness, and insuring at the same time the survival of all beings on this planet.”

Commentary is presented on the website of the Centre for Bhutan Studies. Opinions and outcomes of the conference are being collated to present at the new economic paradigm at the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20”) to take place in Brazil this June.


For inquiries, please contact the official site of the Bhutan Government GNH Project.



Posted on on April 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Population: 2.33 million

Area: 29,204 square miles, about half the size of Indiana

GDP Per Capita: $1,400

Bhutan Navigator

A list of resources about Bhutan as selected by researchers and editors of The New York Times.




The U.N. Happiness Project.

By TIMOTHY W. RYBACK, Deputy Secretary general of the Académie Diplomatique Internationale in Paris.
Published: March 28, 2012

Next Monday, the United Nations will implement Resolution 65/309, adopted unanimously by the General Assembly in July 2011, placing “happiness” on the global agenda.

“Conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal” and “recognizing that the gross domestic product […] does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of people,” Resolution 65/309 empowers the Kingdom of Bhutan to convene a high-level meeting on happiness as part of next week’s 66th session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

An impressive array of luminaries will be speaking for this remote Himalayan kingdom. His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales will open the meeting via a prerecorded video missive. The Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz will speak on “happiness indicators,” as will the economist Jeffrey Sachs. The Bhutanese prime minister will represent King Jigme Khesar Namgyel, the reigning Dragon King of the Bhutanese House of Wangchuck. (The kingdom became a constitutional monarchy in 2007.)

For the 32-year-old Dragon King — Bhutan means “land of dragons” in the local Dzongkha language — U.N. Resolution 65/309 represents a global public relations triumph and the realization of a hereditary ambition, initiated by his grandfather 40 years ago, to establish Gross National Happiness (G.N.H.) as an alternate model to Gross National Product (G.N.P.) as a measure of national progress.

“A family should have a good house, have sufficient land if one is a farmer, and have a modest level of labor-saving devices to save precious time used up by excessive physical work,” explains Karma Ura, a leading public intellectual and artist who serves both as adviser to the king at home and as a G.N.H. ambassador abroad.

He has designed the country’s bank notes, denominated in the local currency known as ngultrum or nu, which is tied to the Indian rupee. He has promoted Gross National Happiness at the European Commission in Brussels and will do so again on Monday at the United Nations in New York.

For his services, Karma Ura received a knighthood from the king, which includes the ancient honorific title, dasho, and a sword that Ura bears as proudly as his G.N.H. patriotism. The “true forms of wealth,” he says, are being blessed with a “ravishing environment,” “vibrant health,” “strong communal relationships” and “meaning in life and freedom to free time.”

As a nation, Bhutan makes good on the Dasho Karma Ura formula. Landlocked in the Himalayan highlands between the dual economic juggernauts India and China, the kingdom is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world.

With a population under 800,000, the average income is about $110 per month. Most Bhutanese do not earn enough money to pay taxes, which are only levied on annual incomes in excess of 100,000 ngultrum, or about $2,000. Despite these limitations, Business Week has ranked Bhutan the “happiest” nation in Asia and the eighth happiest in the world.

“The Bhutanese have combined Buddhist spirituality and barefoot economics into a unique model that a lot of other nations can learn from,” observes Jean Timsit, a Paris-based lawyer and artist who provided the funding to publish a handbook on “operationalization of Gross National Happiness,” based on a conference held in Bhutan in 2004. The 750-page tome helped define G.N.H. and leverage it onto the global agenda.

To date, there have also been G.N.H. conferences in Thailand, Canada, the Netherlands and Brazil. According to Timsit, these activities provided the impetus for President Nicolas Sarkozy of France to commission Stiglitz, along with the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and the French economist Jean-Paul Fitoussi, to conduct a study of the “of economic performance and social progress” that included diverse G.N.H. indicators, ranging from walking to reading to the frequency of love making.

“The kind of civilization we build depends on the way we do our accounts quite simply because it changes the value we put on things,” Sarkozy notes in his preface to the report. “And I am not just speaking about market value.”

On Monday, the Bhutanese model for G.N.H. will be showcased on the United Nations agenda in accordance with Resolution 65/309. “The 2nd April High Level Meeting is intended as a landmark step towards adoption of a new global sustainability-based economic paradigm for human happiness and well-being of all life forms to replace the current dysfunctional system that is based on the unsustainable premise of limitless growth on a finite planet,” the Bhutan government Web site asserts.

With the current international crises over Syria and Iran, not to mention ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to name but a few, the Bhutanese agenda may not attract as much attention as it may deserve.

“I believe that while Gross National Happiness is inherently Bhutanese, its ideas may have a positive relevance to any nation, peoples or communities — wherever they may be,” King Jigme Khesar Namgyel observed in the preface to the G.N.H. handbook back in 2004, while he was still crown prince.

While Americans may well stake their own nationalist claim to having pioneered the notion of “happiness” as a “self-evident truth” and “inalienable right,” dating back to Thomas Jefferson’s 1776 Declaration of Independence, the Dragon King puts a distinctly Bhutanese point on the matter.

“There cannot be enduring peace, prosperity, equality and brotherhood in this world if our aims are so separate and divergent,” he says, “if we do not accept that in the end we are people, all alike, sharing the earth among ourselves and also with other sentient beings, all of whom have an equal role and stake in the state of this planet and its players.” The Dragon King has spoken. Perhaps it is time for the world to listen.


Following the April 2, 2012 meeting at the UN – in the media we found:

April 3, 2012 | News covering the UN and the world

Measuring happiness is discussed at the UN

The purpose of development must be to create conditions for the pursuit of happiness and not merely boost the gross domestic product, which does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of people, Jigmi Thinley, prime minister of Bhutan, told a high-level United Nations meeting Monday. Jeffery Sachs, an economist at Columbia University who co-edited the UN’s First World Happiness Report, said: “The U.S. has had a three time increase of [gross national product] per capita since 1960, but the happiness needle hasn’t budged. Other countries have pursued other policies and achieved much greater gains of happiness, even at much lower levels of per capita income.”

The Washington Post/The Associated Press(4/2),

The New York Times (tiered subscription model)/Dot Earth blog (4/2)

But this is not all of it – though the coverage by the UN Press may be limping, there will be much more coming out in the near future – this because of a stubborn  Bhutan Prime Minister  – The Honorable Jigmi T. Thinley – who has taken very seriously the UN resolution that mandates UN attention to this concept of Gross National Happiness as a way to tackle the need for a new economic paradigm that stresses well-being rather then productivity.

After the April 2nd meeting at the UN that had 600 registrants, 200 of these people, from all over the World, decided to stay on for another two days. Organized in working groups these people prepared content for a plan of action that creates a Bhutan-led Commission to be linked to the UN, and that will promote the concept of Happiness to help achieve the well-being that has eluded so far, because of the World not having really accepted the goal of Sustainability – as Happiness for us when we do what helps us and Future Generations as well.

The resulting material will be taken to the June conference in Rio de Janeiro – the so called RIO+20, but what was deemed even more important – it will be on the Agenda of the UN General Assembly high level meeting in September 2013, when the UN will have to tackle the need for a follow up program after the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015.

I was part of the group of 200 and our website will have much more to say on these subjects. In the meantime, we repost here the excellent material that our friend Andy Revkin posted in his blog Dot Earth that is connected to The New York Times.


Dot Earth - New York Times blog

12:16 p.m. | Live Updates below |
I’m at the United Nations today for the Bhutan-led “
High Level Meeting on Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm.” The details are nicely summarized in a recent Op-Ed article by Timothy W. Ryback, the deputy secretary general of the Académie Diplomatique Internationale in Paris. As Ryback explains, the meeting was approved in a U.N. resolution last year recognizing that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal” and “the gross domestic product [G.D.P.] does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of people….”

I’ll be adding live updates here through the day (see bottom of post). You can get a sense of the conversation by reviewing the online discussion over a draft statement the group plans to adopt.

Bhutan is a tiny, poor, once-isolated Himalayan nation well into the process of moving from monarchy to democracy and opening to the world. Recognizing problems attending a growth-driven economic sprint in other developing countries, in the early 1970’s King Jigme Singye Wangchuck decided to make his nation’s priority not its G.D.P. but its G.N.H., or gross national happiness. The goal ever since has been a mix of economic and social progress shaped to sustain cultural and environmental assets. (There’s a fun explanatory video here.) I first wrote on this concept in 2005, when several dozen Bhutanese leaders, scholars and other citizens, attending a conference in Nova Scotia, described efforts to move from happiness as a concept to a set of policies.

happiness survey
The New York TimesA continuous survey in the United States now gauges day-to-day shifts in feelings of happiness or sadness. (Click for full graphic.)

Today’s meeting (you can track it via theTwitter hashtag #gnh) reflects a global build-up of this notion under other names, as an array of nations and agencies develop systems for measuring well-being that go well beyond what can be measured in dollars. (The Gallup pollsters and the health-care company Healthways have developed a polling project that aims to be a real-time U.S. Well-being Index. I think that a short-term time scale like that — daily polling of 1,000 people — kind of misses the point, but it’s a useful experiment.)

On a different scale is the newly published World Happiness Report, prepared for this conference by economists John Helliwell of the University of British Columbia, Richard Layard at the London School of Economics and Jeffrey D. Sachs of Columbia University (the full document as a pdf file). You can read a short excerpt below.

Other examples include The Better Life Index of the Organization on Economic Cooperation and Development, France’s Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress.

There are heaps of issues here, of course, the first being definitional. Long before the “pursuit of happiness” was enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, and ever since, the term has been debated. What is the good life? As I’ve written before, you can choose the Vegas definition or that of Plato.

As I wrote after the 2005 meeting in Nova Scotia, John Ralston Saul, a Canadian political philosopher, defined happiness as a balance of individual and community interests. “The Enlightenment theory of happiness was an expression of public good or the public welfare, of the contentment of the people…”

The work of Dan Kahan of Yale and the other researchers studying “cultural cognition” has revealed deep, natural divisions among us between what Kahan calls communitarians and individualists (and others call liberals and libertarians). This doesn’t bode well for the notion that nations, or the community of nations, will have an easy time settling on new measures of progress.

But it certainly doesn’t hurt to try, given the extraordinary gulfs on the planet now between haves and have nots, the signs that business as usual will be hard to fit on a finite, increasingly human-shaped planet and the fast-expanding capacity to share and shape ideas in ways that smooth the human journey.

I’ve written a host of posts that explore relevant themes, including my pieces, “Do the Top Billion Need New Goals?” and “How Much is Enough?” An excerpt from that post is worth pasting here:

This kind of examination isn’t just related to personal happiness or, say, environmental damage. John P. Holdren, now President Obama’s science adviser, wrote in “Science and Technology for Sustainable Well-Being” that when you measure human harm in years of life lost (e.g., a child cut down by disease loses decades; a grandmother dying of a stroke at 80 loses a few years), the major afflictions of poverty and affluence do us in at roughly equal rates.

Other relevant pieces can be found in the lengthening string of Dot Earth posts under the tag “wellbeing.”

Here’s an excerpt from the World Happiness Report. Dig in and weigh in:

The realities of poverty, anxiety, environmental degradation, and unhappiness in the midst of great plenty should not be regarded as mere curiosities. They require our urgent attention, and especially so at this juncture in human history. For we have entered a new phase of the world, termed the Anthropocene by the world’s Earth system scientists.

The Anthropocene is a newly invented term that combines two Greek roots: “anthropo,” for human; and “cene,” for new, as in a new geological epoch. The Anthropocene is the new epoch in which humanity, through its technological prowess and population of 7 billion, has become the major driver of changes of the Earth’s physical systems, including the climate, the carbon cycle, the water cycle, the nitrogen cycle, and biodiversity. [More on the Anthropocene.]

The Anthropocene will necessarily reshape our societies. If we continue mindlessly along the current economic trajectory, we risk undermining the Earth’s life support systems – food supplies, clean water, and stable climate – necessary for human health and even survival in some places. In years or decades, conditions of life may become dire in several fragile regions of the world. We are already experiencing that deterioration of life support systems in the drylands of the Horn of Africa and parts of Central Asia.

On the other hand, if we act wisely, we can protect the Earth while raising quality of life broadly around the world. We can do this by adopting lifestyles and technologies that improve happiness (or life satisfaction) while reducing human damage to the environment. “Sustainable Development” is the term given to the combination of human well-being, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. We can say that the quest for happiness is intimately linked to the quest for sustainable development.



Andrew C. Revkin on Climate ChangeBy 2050 or so, the human population is expected to reach nine billion, essentially adding two Chinas to the number of people alive today. Those billions will be seeking food, water and other resources on a planet where, scientists say, humans are already shaping climate and the web of life. In Dot Earth, which recently moved from the news side of The Times to the Opinion section, Andrew C. Revkin examines efforts to balance human affairs with the planet’s limits. Conceived in part with support from a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Dot Earth tracks relevant developments from suburbia to Siberia. The blog is an interactive exploration of trends and ideas with readers and experts.


Posted on on April 3rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

As we wrote in our posting – the ZERO DRAFT text for the RIO+20 outcome document included a paragraph  (#57) in its form that went into the informal-informals March 2012 meeting wording as follows:

“57. We agree to further consider the establishment of an Ombudsperson, or High Commissioner for Future Generations, to promote sustainable development.”

It also had two versions of Paragraph 49 – one titled “Commission on Sustainable Development” – the other titled Sustainable Development Council.

These paragraphs are to be found PART IV of the draft — INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

The draft  left the March Informal-informals with the wording as follows.

– – – – – – – –

57.       We agree to further consider the establishment of an Ombudsperson or High Commissioner for Future Generations, to promote sustainable development.

[57.     We agree to further consider the establishment of [an Ombudsperson, or / the position of – Liechtenstein] High Commissioner for [Future Generations / Intergenerational Solidarity – Holy See]. to promote sustainable development [at global, regional, and national level – Bangladesh]. – G77, Japan, Russian Federation, New Zealand delete; Canada, Norway reserve; EU delete and propose language in 49 alt quint; Montenegro, Liechtenstein move to para. 49 alt sext]

We like the addition by Liechtenstein – “the position of” because it makes it clear that this should be a small body.

We are neutral about the inclusion in the outcome document the recommendation to have similar positions at lower levels as we think that is going to be the task of those other levels to decide on this.

Obviously we are shocked by the opposition to the paragraph by groups like the G77 minus Bangladesh – ( but most probably many more member States of the G77 that did not go on the record yet ) Japan and New Zealand that have not yet understood that it should be a small office like Liechtenstein is proposing and thus not have major monetary implications, and the Russian Federation.


Now let us see the EU  and the Montenegro suggestions for Paragraph #49:

[49  alt  quat (former para 57) [We support the establishment of an Ombudsperson, or Higher Commissioner for Future Generations, to promote sustainable development and the integrated approach at the highest level of decision, policy, and program making within the UN. We call upon the member states to establish similar institutions in their own national laws, which would be independent from the executive and have a mandate to consider petitions from the public and advocate for the interests and needs of future generations.  — Montenegro]

[49 alt quint   We agree to further consider the establishment or appointment, of a High-level Representative for Sustainable Development and Future Generations, possibly to be held within an existing office as the high-level voice called upon to promote an integrated and coherent approach to sustainable development through continuous dialogue with policy-makers, the UN system and civil society.  — EU, former para 57 as amended]

We find the Montenegro version stronger as it does not have the added wording of the possibility of placing the position within an existing office. Independence must be the ground rule, and if it is not guaranteed this new position can not succeed. On the other hand, if this is what it takes to get on board those that want to make sure that the creation of this position will not carry large financial burdens, we feel, mandating it to be small should answer these fears.


Posted on on March 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

This is a follow up to our:

Posted on on March 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Now it is clear – Professor Jeffrey Sachs wants the job of President of the World Bank, he is being supported by African governments and some others, and if elected it is said that he would be the first World Bank President who actually has experience in matters important to the job. All others were bankers or plain political figures that were remote from any skills that this job requires when dealing with developing and poor countries that also lack the economic infrastructure which professional bankers in the West take for granted.


Saturday 10 March 2012

Jeffrey Sachs’ Reform Candidacy for World Bank President.…

Washington, D.C.- Economist and health expert Jeffrey Sachs’ reported candidacy for World Bank president is welcome news for the two-and-a-half billion people around the world living in poverty, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today. A Sachs presidency at the World Bank Group would likely make economic development a top priority, Weisbrot added.

“Everyone should welcome an actual campaign, and a merit-based selection, rather than just the U.S. government choosing a political or Wall Street hack, which until now has been the process for selecting a World Bank president,” Weisbrot said.

If Sachs were to get the job, he would be the first World Bank president with this kind of experience and knowledge of economic development – in other words, the first president that would be qualified for the job.
All of the others have been bankers, politicians, or political appointees.”

Weisbrot added that “The World Bank is in need of serious reform. I hope this newly competitive process will address the most important issues.”

While the Obama administration has yet to publicly put forward a candidate, Bloomberg reported that the administration’s former Chief Economic Advisor and former World Bank Chief Economist Larry Summers may be under consideration. Over 37,000 people have signed a petition opposing Summers’ possible candidacy due to past comments denigrating women’s intellectual capacity in math and science.   Critics of the World Bank’s environmental policies haven’t forgotten an infamous memo Summers wrote while at the World Bank arguing that Africa was “underpolluted.”

Sachs, Weisbrot noted, has made economic development strategies to reduce poverty and inequality a cornerstone of his work, having served as Director of the UN Millennium Project and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals; and in his current capacity as President and Co-Founder of Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending extreme global poverty; and as Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

Weisbrot said that Sachs has the necessary experience to fight for reforms that civil society groups and affected communities have long demanded, such as greater transparency, exemption of primary health and education from budget cuts in low-income countries, greater support for agricultural development and access to essential medicines, and an end to funding of fossil fuel and other environmentally destructive projects.

The Financial Times referred to Sachs’ likely candidacy in an article Wednesday, saying he has “declare[d] his interest in the job.” Sachs published an op-ed this week detailing some of the reforms he wants to see implemented at the World Bank.


Analysis: US must loosen grip on leadership if Bank is to help save world.
Published on Monday 27 February 2012
The world is at a crossroads. Either the global community will join together to fight poverty, resource depletion, and climate change, or it will face a generation of resource wars, political instability, and environmental ruin.
The World Bank, if properly led, can play a key role in averting these threats and the risks that they imply. The global stakes are thus very high this spring as the Bank’s 187 member countries choose a new president to succeed Robert Zoellick, whose term ends in July.
The World Bank was established in 1944 to promote economic development. Its central mission is to reduce global poverty and ensure that global development is environmentally sound and socially inclusive.
Yet, American officials have traditionally viewed the World Bank as an extension of United States foreign policy and commercial interests. Now many members, including Brazil, China, India, and several African countries, are raising their voices in support of more collegial leadership.

From the Bank’s establishment until today, the unwritten rule has been that the US government simply designates each new president: all 11 have been Americans, and not a single one has been an expert in economic development. Instead, the US has selected Wall Street bankers and politicians.

Yet the policy is backfiring on the US and badly hurting the world. Because of a long-standing lack of strategic expertise at the top, the Bank has lacked a clear direction and has solved far too few global problems.
For too long, the Bank’s leadership has imposed US concepts that are often utterly inappropriate for the poorest countries. For example, the Bank fumbled the pandemics of Aids, tuberculosis, and malaria during the 1990s, failing to get help to where it was needed to save millions of lives.
The Bank similarly missed crucial opportunities to support subsistence farmers and to promote integrated rural development more generally in impoverished rural communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
The Bank’s staff is highly professional, and would accomplish much more if freed from the dominance of narrow US interests and viewpoints. The Bank has the potential to be a catalyst of progress in key areas that will shape the world’s future, with the focus on agricultural productivity, education and communication.
Most importantly, the Bank’s new president should have first-hand professional experience regarding the range of pressing development challenges. The world should not accept the status quo.
A World Bank leader who once again comes from Wall Street or from US politics would be a heavy blow for a planet in need of creative solutions to complex development challenges.

• Jeffrey Sachs is professor of economics and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is also special adviser to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals.


Posted on on September 26th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Ditching water-sharing deal, India fumbles historic opportunity to reshape neighborhood.

Special to The Japan Times,  Monday, Sep. 26, 2011.

Harsh V. Pant teaches at King’s College, London.

Manmohan Singh was visiting Dhaka to take forward the process of restoring credibility to Delhi-Dhaka ties initiated by his Bangladeshi counterpart during her visit to New Delhi in July 2010.

Singh’s visit came 12 years after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Dhaka in 1999. High-profile visits including those by Sonia Gandhi (all-powerful leader of the ruling Congress Party), the Indian external affairs minister and the Indian home minister had preceded the prime minister’s visit, laying the groundwork for a possible historic shift in Delhi-Dhaka ties.

When Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited New Delhi in 2010, she decided to go for a big gamble by putting all outstanding issues on the table and making it clear that Dhaka was a serious partner of New Delhi in counterterror operations and an economic bridge between India and its northeastern region.

New Delhi tried to seize this opportunity and decided to give Hasina’s offers substantive weight by deciding to open Indian markets for Bangladeshi textiles and offering to resolve the dispute over how to share use of the Teesta and Feni rivers.

Boundary issues have also been moving toward some sort of a resolution as the two sides move ahead in resolving the issues of small enclaves in each other’s territory.

Insurgents operating in Indian’s northeast have tended to find a safe haven in Bangladesh for some decades now, but the Hasina government has taken a hard line against them, satisfying one of India’s major long-standing demands.

India, for its part, has given strong instructions to its Border Security Force against shooting unarmed Bangladeshi civilians along the border areas even if they are found crossing the borders illegally.

By restoring transborder connectivity via the northeast, India and Bangladesh will be laying the groundwork for larger regional economic integration involving Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.

Even as the Indian prime minister was about to make his maiden voyage to Bangladesh, it was being suggested that India’s eastern neighborhood stood on the threshold of a remarkable transformation.

However, Manmohan Singh’s visit fell much short of expectations. The two states did sign the landmark agreement on the demarcation of land boundaries and the exchange of adversely held enclaves, thereby settling the decades-old vexed border issue. Singh also announced 24-hour access for Bangladeshi nationals through the Tin Bigha corridor in addition to duty-free access for 46 textile items, effective immediately.

India also declared that it help Bangladesh develop its ports and infrastructure as well as customs points and would supply bulk power to Bangladesh by connecting the two national grids.

But Bangladesh was not satisfied, as a last-minute scrapping of the Teesta water-sharing deal — because of objections from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to the draft of the agreement — left a bad taste. If these objections are not resolved soon, they might provide ammunition to anti-India elements in Bangladesh.

Clarification was sought from the Indian envoy by the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry as to why India decided not to sign the treaty at the very last minute. The India-Bangladesh summit meeting came very close to collapsing.

Sheikh Hasina’s visit had imparted a new direction to the course of Delhi-Dhaka ties. And Bangladesh has been rightly upset at the slow pace of implementing deals signed during Hasina’s visit. Hasina has taken great political risk to put momentum back into bilateral ties. But for a long time, there has been no serious attempt on India’s part to settle outstanding issues.

Bureaucratic inertia and lack of political will has prevented many of the deals from following through. As India failed to reciprocate fully to Hasina’s overtures, the main opposition in Dhaka, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), started using India-Bangladesh bonhomie under Hasina to attack the government for toeing India’s line. India-Bangladesh ties reached their lowest ebb during the 2001-2006 tenure of the BNP government.

The BNP and its fundamentalist allies remain opposed to normalization of Delhi-Dhaka ties and have demanded that all bilateral deals be made public first. The country remains deeply divided.

In India, too, various constituencies have stymied Delhi-Dhaka rapprochement. The Indian prime minister was to be accompanied by the chief ministers of five states bordering Bangladesh.

But Mamta Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal, decided not to go at the very last minute, expressing her disapproval of the final draft of the Teesta river water agreement. Moreover, domestic textile producers in India have been lobbying hard to resist opening up of Indian markets more fully to Bangladeshi goods.

There is no doubt that India, as the larger economic power, should be magnanimous toward its neighbors. India remains fixated on its western border, but there is very little that India can do to change the regional dynamic there.

It is India’s eastern neighbor that India should focus on and go the extra mile for.

If India fails to swiftly capitalize on the propitious political circumstances in Bangladesh today, it will be damaging its credibility in the region even further. New Delhi’s window of opportunity with Dhaka will not last forever.

Anti-Indian sentiments can be marginalized if India allows Bangladesh to harness its economic growth and presents it with greater opportunities. Yet, India remains overly obsessed with Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has failed to give due attention to its eastern frontier with Bangladesh.

India is witnessing rising turmoil all around its borders, and therefore a stable, moderate Bangladesh as a partner is in its long-term interest.

Constructive Indo-Bangladesh ties could be a major stabilizing factor for the South Asian region as a whole.


Posted on on September 10th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Climate Change Threatens Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness.

THIMPU, Bhutan, September 9, 2011 (ENS) – Hydropower, the biggest economic driver in the Himalayan country of Bhutan, is threatened by serious water shortages as the country’s glaciers melt due to climate warming, finds Bhutan’s latest National Human Development Report.

Many of Bhutan’s glaciers are melting at a higher rate than those in other mountain ranges, according to the new report, “Sustaining Progress: Rising to the Climate Challenge.”

“Alternative development pathways, such as Gross National Happiness that we are promulgating, will influence the capacity of communities … to adapt to climate change,” said Pema Gyamtsho, minister of agriculture and forests, at the report’s launch last week.

Gross National Happiness is the official development philosophy of Bhutan, a kingdom led by King Jigme Singye Wangchuk. It has been approved by parliament, making Bhutan the world’s only country to measure its wellbeing by Gross National Happiness instead of Gross National Product.

To realize its Gross National Happiness philosophy of life, Bhutan has prioritized conservation of the environment, and made a commitment to remain carbon neutral by keeping absorption of the greenhouse gases higher than emissions.

More than 70 percent of Bhutan is covered with forests. With an export ban on unprocessed timber, Bhutan has been able to keep its carbon absorption from the agriculture, energy and industry sectors at levels that maintain its status as a net sink for greenhouse gases.

Yet as the climate continues to warm, melting Himalayan glaciers are theatening not only the happiness but also the lives of Bhutan residents. Depleted glaciers will leave little water for Bhutanese hydropower, but as they melt, catastrophic amounts of water will be released.

As glaciers move across the landscape, they pile up rocky debris, forming moraines that act as natural dams for lakes filled with melt water. When they fail, they can create devastating glacial outburst floods.

On October 7, 1994, in the Bhutan Himalaya, the partial collapse of a moraine along the edge of the Luggye Lake released a glacial outburst flood that killed 21 people and swept away livestock, crops, and homes.


Posted on on June 5th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

This is something we do very seldom – take a comment that was originally intended to be added to a previous article and actually post it as well as an individual posting – this because of its actual informative value.

Comment from Robert del Rosso on June 5, 2011

RE our posting #18081 of August 20, 2010 – on the PAKISTANI FLOODS OF 2008  –

“August 19, 2010, before the UN started its meetings, the Asia Society in New York opened the discussion on the Pakistan Flood response by diving right to the bottom truth – the latest mega-disasters have one common cause – human induced climate change. It was Financier George Soros who injected the topic and the media was allowed by Ambassador Holbrooke to follow up. See what you can do when you go outside the UN!”



COLUMBUS , Ohio – Ice cores drilled last year from the summit of a Himalayan ice field lack the distinctive radioactive signals that mark virtually every other ice core retrieved worldwide.

That missing radioactivity, originating as fallout from atmospheric nuclear tests during the 1950s and 1960s, routinely provides researchers with a benchmark against which they can gauge how much new ice has accumulated on a glacier or ice field.

Lonnie Thompson made public that –  a joint U.S.-Chinese team drilled four cores from the summit of Naimona’nyi, a large glacier 6,050 meters (19,849 feet) high on theTibetan Plateau. The researchers routinely analyze ice cores for a host of indicators – particulates, dust, oxygen isotopes, etc. — that can paint a picture of past climate in that region.

Scientists believe that the missing signal means that this Tibetan ice field has been shrinking at least since the A-bomb test half a century ago. If true, this could foreshadow a future when the stockpiles of freshwater will dwindle and vanish, seriously affecting the lives of more than 500 million people on the Indian subcontinent.

“There’s about 12,000 cubic kilometers (2,879 cubic miles) of fresh water stored in the glaciers throughout the Himalayas – more freshwater than in Lake Superior,” explained Lonnie Thompson, distinguished university professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University and a researcher with the Byrd Polar Research Center on campus. “Those glaciers release meltwater each year and feed the rivers that support nearly a half-billion people in that region. The loss of these ice fields might eventually create critical water shortages for people who depend on glacier-fed streams.”


Posted on on April 25th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

April 24 in modern history is a peace day date. We just discovered this accidentally. We think the UN should look into the possibility of making this a holy day in its calendar.

This year it happened to be Easter Sunday, but this is not our point. Rather, we coincidentally did something we never do – we looked at the listing of things that happened on this date in modern history and it rang bells in our mind.

Look at April 24, 1916 – it was the start of a down-played conference of European Socialists at Kiental in the Swiss Canton Bern. The Conference lasted till April 30th and was officially painted as a tourism event. But it was much more then that. At this meeting Lenin called to the workers in all countries of WWI to act so the War is ended. That was a Lenin call to the workers of the world to stop a useless war!

In 1926 on April 24th there was the signing of an international agreement relating to mobile vehicles – this was an aspect of the start of globalization. It was thought at that time that mobility will bring people together.

On April 24, 1941 the US and Japan held secret talks to establish a “MODUS VIVENDI” in the Pacific and East Asia. It led to no results, but it was some sort of secretly held effort at avoiding war. Had it led to results, there might have been peace in the Pacific but Hitler would have won in Europe and this surely would not have been the peace we could have enjoyed. So, Japan actually helped bringing about peace by leading to its own defeat – something I could not miss contemplating.

April 24, 1981 President Reagan lifted the grain embargo against the Soviet Union. Was this the start of West-East detente or just the recognition that the “Containment” policy is bringing results?

April 24, 1996, The Palestinian National Council decided to take out the statement about the destruction of the State of Israel from the PLO Charter. This allowed for a step  towards the eluding Peace Accord in the Middle East -though without results yet, it was a required step in the right direction nevertheless.

Looking at birthdays – it was April 24, 1941 – (remember the US-Japan secret talks?) that was also the birthday of Richard Holbrooke – a man who tried to bring peace to places other did not dare to go – Holbrooke achieved great public prominence when he, together with former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, brokered a peace agreement among the warring factions inBosnia that led to the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords. It is sad to look reality in the face – but it was the Holbrooke effort that led to the only tangible peace making event in Europe in the post WWII era – and again it had to be initiated by the US  as the EU has not moved away yet from the bickering among its constituent governments. (The EU is a Federation when it comes to common standardization of goods and measurements – this more then in the USA, but in the all important matters of Foreign Policy, Security, and military command, it is yet much less then the American style of Federal Government. Thus not yet able to be effective in Peace making.


Posted on on October 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (



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