Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a term coined by His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan. In 1972, while on the way to conference abroad, was asked about the GNP of Bhutan. He responded, “for Bhutan, GNH is more important than Gross National Product. That very moment gave birth to GNH.

His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck

Today, GNH is enshrined in Bhutan’s Constitution. Article 9.2 states: “the sate shall strive to promote those conditions that will enable the pursuit of Gross National Happiness.”

Bhutan has a forest cover over 70%

Distinguishable from Gross Domestic Product, GNH development framework is based on four pillars:

1. Sustainable and equitable socio-economic development;

2. Conservation of environment;

3. Preservation and promotion of culture;

4. Good governance.

GNH Commission was formed to coordinate all policy formulation, monitoring and implementation of development plans and policies in Bhutan. It is composed of Secretaries each of the ministries, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of the GNHC.

Bhutanese traditional house

The GNH index is used to measure the happiness and well-being of Bhutan’s population. The first GNH survey was conducted in 2008 followed by a second one in 2010. The third survey was conducted in 2015.

In 2011, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution “Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development” urging member nations to follow the example of Bhutan and calling happiness a “fundamental human goal.”

Jigme Y Thinley

After the UN High Level Meeting in 2012, 20 March was declared to be the International Day of Happiness by the UN. 

Cities and governments of Canada, Brazil, United States, Thailand and the Philippines were inspired by GNH and have undertaken efforts to measure happiness and wellbeing though Bhutan’s version of GNH index was not used.

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