We Become What We Think

This article by Jürgen Nagler – Deputy Resident Representative for Bhutan on the United Nations Development Programme – comes from the website of the International Science Council. It begins:

1. Beyond GDP: Towards SDGs and Wellbeing

While development efforts showcase success stories, such as the decrease in the number of people living in extreme poverty, the current paradigm is unable to fully explain successes and failures of development interventions.  As we increasingly live beyond our planetary boundaries, inequality and mental health issues have been rising, and  happiness and wellbeing remain elusive for many around the world.

Furthermore, given the number of crises — from climate change to COVID19 — alongside the ambitious nature of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is an urgent need to investigate the effectiveness of the 20th century human development paradigm for the 21st century. While the current human development approach shifted the development focus from Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to a somewhat broader perspective some 30 years ago, we have not made major progress since to truly advance human development in a holistic manner.

Calls for a more holistic human development paradigm are supported by the Beyond GDP movement as well as other wellbeing initiatives around the world,[4] and the need has also been recognized by the United Nations’ General Assembly (resolution 65/309: Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development, 2011). Global mindsets are very similar to paradigms in that they are the source of manifesting systems. As Achim Steiner, UNDP’s Administrator, stated:

 ‘We are now on the verge of shifting into an economic paradigm that is not about communism or capitalism; it is about recalibrating equity and sustainability into a development paradigm.’  …” [5]

[4] For example see the global Wellbeing Economy Alliance and EU’s Beyond GDP initiative

[5] Steiner, Achim, 2020, These 4 trends will define the future of development

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