Avoiding the Limits to Growth: Gross National Happiness in Bhutan as a Model for Sustainable Development
In their 30-year update to Limits to Growth , Meadows et al. call for a vision of sustainable development that includes systemic change brought on by new perspectives on the purpose of development, new ways of measuring progress, and changes in social norms. Here, I discuss Meadows et al. â€™s work in the context of the literature on sustainable development and well-being as well as the development trajectory of Bhutan. I suggest that Bhutanâ€™s development approach mirrors Meadows et al. â€™s recommendations and provides one model for sustainable development. The ideal of maximizing Gross National Happiness (GNH) exemplifies Bhutanâ€™s commitment to holistic development and dovetails with arguments about the shortcomings of approaches that emphasize economic growth. I provide examples of how GNH has been put into practice, describe how happiness is being measured, and discuss the emergence of social norms and a shared Bhutanese identity that may contribute to sustainable development. Bhutanâ€™s development success suggests that an alternative to growth-centric development is viable. However, while Bhutanâ€™s standard of living has increased, the country faces challenges, the most important of which may be their ability to manage rising consumption levels. Importantly, other nations have begun measuring well-being and considering similar development approaches.
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- Offer, Avner, 2007. "The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain since 1950," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199216628, May.
- Graham M Turner, 2008. "A Comparison of the Limits to Growth with Thirty Years of Reality," Socio-Economics and the Environment in Discussion (SEED) Working Paper Series 2008-09, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems.
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