Like never before, ordinary people and politicians now agree that we need new measures of progress.
The Happy Planet Index has attracted worldwide attention as an important part of this agenda. See what some of our high profile supporters have said about the HPI, and who has signed up to our Happy Planet Charter.
Everyone accepts that GDP alone cannot tell us anything of substance about how we are doing as a species. It tells us nothing of the state of our planet, or the wellbeing of its people. It is simply an indiscriminate measurement of economic activity. The Happy Planet Index is a step towards developing alternatives.
The Happy Planet Index shows that living a green life isn’t about wearing a hair-shirt – it’s about improving the quality of life for all of us, at a lower cost to the environment. This way we can build a better society that operates within the limits of the ecosystem. Business as usual has given us a series of linked economic, environmental and social crises. We need to transform our economic system so that it is socially just and ecologically sustainable. To do this, we need new measures of progress, which capture what really matters.
The Happy Planet Index makes an excellent contribution to the debate about how Governments can pursue their goal of creating a better quality of life now and in the future. Especially in light of the forthcoming Rio+20 summit, we need to recognise the limitations of GDP alone as a general measure of progress and develop a wider range of indicators to capture the wealth of a society.
It is a fundamental truth that economics has to be indexed to the limitations of the planet. Sustainability is not just about recycling bins; it is about having a sense of what prosperity looks like when it fits within the finite resources available to us. The hubristic attempt to outgrow the intrinsic limits of our planet is at the root of many of our economic woes. The Happy Planet Index provides a new measure of success for economies: their ability to produce happy, healthy lives within these intrinsic limits.
When it comes to understanding what’s going on in the world, the first point of call should be the Happy Planet Index. It exposes everything that GDP hides, from the health of the local environment, to the well-being of local populations. It sees beyond the rhetoric of the much-maligned approach to “economic development” and gets to the heart of what really matters to people, and most importantly, what governments need to prioritise.
We pay attention to what we measure. Our fixated stare at GDP has gotten us in environmental trouble, and begun to show diminishing returns even for satisfaction with our piles of stuff — so maybe it’s time to look elsewhere. The HPI is a natural place to start.
Traditional thinking aligns economic growth with happiness. Yet statistics show that while we have become richer we have actually become sicker. At the moment we are measuring the wrong things. What really matters is our quality of life, our well-being and creating lives full of relationships and goodness. The Happy Planet Index captures exactly this and shifts our thinking towards creating good lives now without sacrificing well-being in the future.
Recent recognition by the UN and many individual governments that the true measure of progress must put well-being rather than economics at its heart, is enormously encouraging. Achieving well-being which is sustainable requires us to consider how the earth’s finite resources can be used to ensure the well-being of both the present future generations. The Happy Planet Index is a simple and ingenious attempt to encapsulate human well-being and a future perspective in a single measure. The findings challenge us to think creatively about how to optimise good lives in a way that is fair and sustainable.
The Happy Planet Index offers us an excellent example of how such measures work in practice. It shows that while the challenges faced by rich resource-intensive nations and those with high levels of poverty and deprivation may be very different, the end goal is the same: long and happy lives that don’t cost the earth.
We must balance the prominence currently given to GDP with those measures that take seriously the challenges we face in the 21st century: creating economies that deliver sustainable well-being for all.
By signing this charter we:
Call on governments to adopt new measures of human progress that put the goal of delivering sustainable well-being for all at the heart of societal and economic decision-making
Resolve to build the political will needed across society to fully establish these better measures of human progress by working with partner organisations
Call on the United Nations to develop an indicator as part of the post-2015 framework that, like the Happy Planet Index, measures progress towards the key goal for a better future: sustainable well-being for all
If your organisation is interested in signing the Charter please contact us.
People and organisations who have signed the charter include: