U.N. Supports Happiness as a Development Goal

by Lisa Mastny   |   July 25, 2011


On July 19, the United Nations General Assembly called on U.N. Member States to undertake steps that give more importance to happiness and well-being in determining how to achieve and measure social and economic development.

In the draft resolution, titled “Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development," the Assembly invited countries “to pursue the elaboration of additional measures that better capture the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being in development with a view to guiding their public policies.”

The resolution, which was adopted without a vote, states that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal” and embodies the spirit of the globally agreed targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Member States also welcomed the offer of Bhutan, which for many years has used "gross national happiness" rather than gross domestic product (GDP) as a marker of success, to convene a panel discussion on the theme of happiness and well-being during the Assembly’s 66th session, which begins in September. 

The resolution notes that the GDP indicator “was not designed to and does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of people in a country,” and that “unsustainable patterns of production and consumption can impede sustainable development.”