Bhutan Prime Minister Invites IEMEA to Participate in UN Summit for a Sustainable Economics Paradigm and Happiness”
Bhutan is spearheading the development of a new economics paradigm with sustainability and happiness at its core to replace the conventional GDP and economic model which has helped to bring about so much resource depletion, environmental degradation, and social inequity. Bhutan has introduced a UN resolution to create such a new model. Toward this end, Bhutan’s Prime Minister has called for a summit of international experts to join sponsoring countries in developing this model, new cost accounting measures and financial strategies. IEMEA has been invited to participate in this upcoming summit.
Since the 1970s, Bhutan has been first in the world in using a GNH index – Gross National Happiness index – as a contrast to the conventional GDP economic measure. The GNH has nine topical areas measured by 72 core indicators. GNH serves as a guide to Bhutan’s five-year national planning process and all the instruments that guide the economic and development plans of the country. The GNH topical areas include physical, mental and spiritual health; time-balance; social and community vitality; cultural vitality; education; living standards; good governance; and ecological vitality. Bhutan’s Prime Minister describes the meeting as follows.
“The UN General Assembly resolution A/65/L.86, introduced by Bhutan with support from 68 Member States, and unanimously adopted by the UN, called for a “holistic approach to development” aimed at promoting sustainable happiness and wellbeing. It thrust on my small country the responsibility of initiating steps for the furtherance of this resolution. It is therefore planned that key representative leaders from developed and developing nations, along with leading economists, scientists, and civil society and spiritual leaders, come together to issue a clarion call at the UN on 2nd April for a sustainability-based economic development paradigm to replace the current system. To this end, it is hoped that the High-Level Meeting will call for the world’s best experts, based on the best available knowledge to work together over the next year to hammer out the details of the measures, accounts, and financial mechanisms required for a happiness-based economic model for the consideration of the international community. Such a model, or aspects of it would then be available for incorporation into national policies on a voluntary basis.”
Jigmi Y. Thinley, Prime Minister, Royal Government of Bhutan
Eco-municipality Initiative in Chile
IEMEA has been working with a group of municipalities, NGOs, businesses, and universities to create ecomunicipalities in Chile. Calera de Tango, pop. 18,000 and 30 km south of Santiago, may be the first. A group of municipalities in the Biobio region of Chile wants to become an eco-region based upon the eco-municipality approach. Work with universities includes developing a capacity center – ‘EcoMuna’ – to support the development of eco-municipalities throughout the country. IEMEA is also working to connect Swedish ‘green-tech’ and ‘clean-tech’ companies with Chilean counterparts to assist in Chilean sustainable development projects and earthquake recovery.
Chile de Los Rios fish fair Meeting with Manfred Max-Neef Chile de los Lagos eco-mun Photos: Torbjorn Lahti
Sustainable Sweden Tour for Chileans Photo: Torbjorn Lahti
A group of Chileans, including representatives from Calera de Tango and the Chilean national Department of the Environment, recently completed a nine-day Sustainable Sweden Tour led by Torbjörn Lahti of IEMEA. The Department of Environment is considering using the eco-municipality approach as part of the environmental certification process for municipalities. Sustainable development initiatives studies on the tour included sustainable approaches to dealing with waste – biogas generation, expanded recycling - and renewable energy projects.
IEMEA Instructs at National League of Cities Leadership Training Institute
Sarah James, Co-Director of IEMEA, led a training workshop “Mainstreaming Green Practices in your Community” for National League of Cities municipal officials in Phoenix, AZ in November 2011. The Leadership Training Institute is NLC’s learning and resource center on local government leadership. The LTI provides high quality education and training seminars for local elected officials. IEMEA’s “Mainstreaming Green Practices” workshop was one of fifteen seminars chosen by LTI from over 200 seminar proposals.
Photos: Sarah James
How to ChangeWorlds - new book by Torbjörn Lahti, IEMEA Co-Director
Torbjörn Lahti, Co-Director of IEMEA, recently completed and published his new book called “How to Change Worlds”. The book describes the evolution of the ecomunicipality movement and synthesizes the learning from the movement into an approach he calls “Ecomunicipality 5.0” – what the newest generation of ecomunicipalities can learn from the four that have preceded them since the early 1980s. Find out more about the book at www.sustainablesweden.org/thoughts/how-to-change-worlds.html. It will be translated into English and Spanish in coming months.