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Timeline Events / Happy Planet Index

The Happy Planet Index (HPI) is an index of human well-being and environmental impact that was introduced by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in July 2006.

The index is designed to challenge well-established indices of countries’ development, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI), which are seen as not taking sustainability into account. In particular, GDP is seen as inappropriate, as the usual ultimate aim of most people is not to be rich, but to be happy and healthy. Furthermore, it is believed that the notion of sustainable development requires a measure of the environmental costs of pursuing those goals.

The HPI is based on general utilitarian principles — that most people want to live long and fulfilling lives, and the country which is doing the best is the one that allows its citizens to do so, whilst avoiding infringing on the opportunity of future people and people in other countries to do the same. In effect it operationalises the IUCN’s (World Conservation Union) call for a metric capable of measuring ‘the production of human well-being (not necessarily material goods) per unit of extraction of or imposition upon nature’. Human well-being is operationalised as Happy Life Years. Extraction of or imposition upon nature is proxied for using the ecological footprint per capita, which attempts to estimate the amount of natural resources required to sustain a given country’s lifestyle. A country with a large per capita ecological footprint uses more than its fair share of resources, both by drawing resources from other countries, and also by causing permanent damage to the planet which will impact future generations.

Those who sign on to the Happy Planet Charter believe that:

“- A new narrative of progress is required for the twenty-first century.

– It is possible to have a good life without costing the Earth.

– Over-consumption in rich countries represents one of the key barriers to sustainable well-being worldwide and that governments should strive to identify economic models that do not rely on constantly growing consumption to achieve stability and prosperity.

They call for:

– Governments to measure people’s well-being and environmental impact in a consistent and regular way, 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 1.7 gha, increasing mean life satisfaction to eight (on a scale of 0 to 10) and continuing to increase mean life expectancy to reach 87 years.

– Developed nations and the international community to support developing nations in achieving the same target by 2070.”

Timeline entry contributed by Andrew Mailing

Source: Wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Planet_Index

Link: http://www.happyplanetindex.org/

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