The Happy Planet Index HPI 2.0

UK only 74th, but Costa Rica tops ‘Happy Planet Index’

Linked with Share The World’s Resources STWR, with the New Economics Foundation nef, and with their publication, The price of power (2006).

Published on STWR (share the world resources), on June 9, 2009.

… the second global ranking of the ecological efficiency with which the world’s nations deliver long and happy lives for the people who live there – the ‘Happy Planet Index’ – reveals a surprising picture of the relative wealth and progress of nations:

  • Latin America tops the Index with Costa Rica the ‘greenest and happiest’ country.  Nine of the ten highest-scoring nations are Latin American
  • The USA, China and India were all ‘greener and happier’ twenty years ago than today
  • The World’s richest plummet from 1960s to late 1970s, with scores still lower today than 1961
  • The UK comes 74th, USA 114th out of 143 nations surveyed …  

… The HPI shows that good lives that do not cost the Earth really are possible. Comparisons show that long, happy lives can be achieved with far lower levels of resource consumption:

  • People in the Netherlands live on average over a year longer than people in the USA, and have similar levels of life satisfaction – yet their per capita ecological footprint is less than half the size (4.4 global hectares compared with 9.4 global hectares). The Netherlands is over twice as ecologically efficient at achieving good lives as the USA.
  • Costa Ricans also live slightly longer than Americans, and report much higher levels of life satisfaction, and yet have a footprint that is less than a quarter the size.

“The economy, communities, lifestyles and aspirations of a happy planet will be very different to those that lock us into our current ecological inefficiency. The Happy Planet Index suggests that the path we have been following is, without exception, unable to deliver all three goals: high life satisfaction, high life expectancy and one-planet living. Instead we need a new development model that delivers good lives that don’t cost the Earth for all. We should look to the Happy Planet Index to guide us in that endeavour” says Saamah Abdallah, nef researcher and the report’s lead author.

The report sets out a ‘Happy Planet Charter’ calling for an unprecedented collective global effort to develop a new narrative of human progress, encourage good lives that don’t cost the Earth, and to reduce consumption in the highest-consuming nations as the biggest barrier to sustainable well-being. The charter calls for:

  • Governments to measure people’s well-being and environmental impact consistently and regularly, 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 one planet living, increasing mean life satisfaction to eight (on a scale of 0 to 10) and continuing to the gradual increase in mean life expectancy to 87 years;
  • Developed nations and the international community to support developing nations in achieving the same target by 2070.

In times of great crisis, come great opportunities. According to the Happy Planet Index, now is the time for societies around the world to speak out for a happier planet, to identify a new vision of progress, and to demand new tools to help us work towards it. The HPI is one of these tools. But if it is to be effective it must also inspire people to act. (full text).

Link: NEF on wikipedia.

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