UNSG Calls for Inclusive, Sustainable Human Development on First International Day of Happiness

20 March 2013: On the first International Day of Happiness, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the international community to support inclusive, sustainable human development and to take action to ensure everyone around the world can pursue happiness.

The recognition of happiness and well-being as universal aspirations and global goals has grown in recent years following the initiative of Bhutan, which uses Gross National Happiness rather than Gross National Product (GDP) to measure national prosperity because Bhutan feels it must be defined as being broader than material wealth. The UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) agreed on broader measures of progress to complement GDP and recognized the three pillars of sustainable development. The UN also held a High-level Meeting (HLM) on “Happiness and Well-Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” in April 2012.

In his statement, Ban explained that basic material well-being remains elusive for those living in poverty and elaborated that many others face threats from climate change, environmental degradation, socio-economic crises and violence and crime. Still, he said he was encouraged by “the efforts of some Governments to design policies based on comprehensive well-being indicators” and encouraged other governments to follow suit. He concluded that “Compassion promotes happiness and will help build the future we want.”

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) declared the International Day of Happiness to focus attention on balanced, equitable, inclusive economic growth that alleviates poverty and promotes sustainable development. [UN News[UN DESA News] [UNDP News[UNSG Ban's Statement] [UNCCD  News] [Sustainable Development Policy & Practice story on HLM on Happiness and Well-Being]