Local economies and happinessSeptember 26, 2013
SNDP recently organized a film screening of The Economics of Happiness (2011) in cooperation with the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BMCD) to stimulate dialogue on new approaches to development. Over 40 people participated, including civil servants, academics, people from civil society organisations, journalists and students.
The film showcases the destructive effects of economic globalisation and advocates for the localization of economic activity to regenerate community vitality and biological diversity. It proposes that only a systemic shift away from global to local will reduce our ecological footprint while increasing human wellbeing.
After the screening, there was a lively exchange on the relevance of this message for Bhutan. Rural-urban migration and related issues concerning youth unemployment were discussed. Participants said that government support for young people to return to farming as well as development of entrepreneurial ventures and local businesses to help bring farm products to the market would be necessary to build Bhutanese local economy. One person felt serious change in the education system was needed, as the current system does not foster a broader perspective and wide options for employment. Our present education system and general mind-set advocate city life with a job in the civil service as the ultimate measure of success, limiting the type of economic activity people are willing to engage in. Consequently, there is little growth in our local economies. Several participants suggested that the film be shown in schools.
When asked what they would do if they were part of the Cabinet in Bhutan, participants’ answers included: planning for communities rather than just urban cities; improving local-level development plans; supporting civil society organisations; promoting local food procurement in all public offices; advocating mindfulness and values; using taxation to raise the price of non-healthy or imported products; reducing waste by not using plastic utensils and serving filtered water instead of bottled mineral water; transforming the education system to teach skills that match actual jobs; and incentivising people to live sustainably.
Read more about the The Economics of Happiness which was written and directed by Helena Norbert-Lodge, Steven Gorelick and John Page at: www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org.