The New Economics Foundation of the UK has created a “Happy Planet Index” that combines measurements of human and environmental well-being. Costa Rica is the country that leads this index – it has a highly educated, long-living population in a economy that gets more than 70% of its electricity from renewable sources. The country has foresworn having any standing army, and aspires to being carbon neutral by the early 2020s.
The index ranks 142 countries. South Africa is far down the list, at 118 (but only five places behind the US). The most unhappy country on the list is Zimbabwe.
There is a charter associated with the index, to which Incite is now a signatory:
People who sign the charter believe that:
– A new narrative of progress is required for the twenty-first century.
– It is possible to have a good life without costing the Earth.
– Over-consumption in rich countries represents one of the key barriers to sustainable well-being worldwide and that governments should strive to identify economic models that do not rely on constantly growing consumption to achieve stability and prosperity.
They call for:
• Governments to measure people’s well-being and environmental impact in a consistent and regular way, and to develop a framework of national accounts that considers the interaction between the two so as to guide us towards sustainable well-being.
• Developed nations to set an HPI target of 89 by 2050 – this means reducing per capita footprint to 1.7 gha, increasing mean life satisfaction to eight (on a scale of 0 to 10) and continuing to increase mean life expectancy to reach 87 years.
• Developed nations and the international community to support developing nations in achieving the same target by 2070.