About Gross National Happiness and Gross National Product — 4 (continued)

By Matthieu Ricard on March 17, 2012

Excerpts from a statement from the Prime Minister of Bhutan, H.E. Jigmi Y. Thinley, in preparation to the 2nd of April debate on GNH at the United Nations, to which I shall participate

Drs. Kubiszewski and Costanza have worked hard to give us the first ever estimate of the economic value of Bhutan's natural capital, which provides Nu 760 billion worth of ecosystem services every year — 4.4 times more than our whole GDP. Nearly 94% of that ecosystem service value is provided by our country's forests. And here is where our little country is performing a huge service to the world, because 53% of that value accrues to those beyond our borders. Why? Because our forests regulate the climate, store carbon, and protect watersheds from which others benefit.

And every year, our people generously give their voluntary time to helping others, cleaning up litter, repairing lhakhangs, fighting fires, helping the sick, elderly and disabled. Through their voluntary work, our people are not only living GNH in action, but providing extraordinarily valuable services to our country and economy. If we had to replace their voluntary work for pay, we now know it would cost us Nu 320.5 million every year. This is our first economic valuation of our social capital.

And we have started valuing our human capital too, learning for the first time that the health care costs of alcohol abuse cost our health care system more than Nu. 30 million every year. 

So for the first time, by starting to value our natural, social, human, and cultural capital, we are beginning to get a true sense of our rich and abundant national wealth, and also of real costs like alcoholism — all of which are hidden in conventional GDP-based accounts. The new information will help us tremendously in making policy based on real evidence, and in creating a true GNH society.

More than that, our new full benefit-cost National Accounts are really the foundation of a new GNH based economic paradigm that at last weans us off our consumerist economic growth addiction and that will lead us to sustainable human happiness and the wellbeing of all life forms.
(to be continued)