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nef - the New Economics Foundation - is an independent British think-tank, or, in their own description, a "think-and-do tank".

nef have recently, July 2006, produced a Happy Planet Index (HPI), the report for which includes information on Life satisfaction, Life expectancy, Ecological footprint and HPI for 178 countries. This information provides an indication of which component policy-makers in countries around the world need to prioritise.

nef's Global Manifesto for a happier planet Edit

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger Edit

Increasing material wealth in (so-called) developed countries does not lead to greater happiness, and that extreme poverty systematically undermines people's opportunities to build good lives for themselves and their families. We urgently need to redesign our global systems to more equitably distribute the things people rely on for their day-to-day livelihoods, for example: income, and access to land, food and other resources.

Improve healthcare Edit

High life expectancy in a country reflects good healthcare and living conditions, and has a positive relationship to people's sense of well-being. Globally we need to increase access to clean water, halt the rise in diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, and reduce child and maternal mortality. The World Health Organization estimates that everyone in the world could be provided with a good level of basic healthcare for just $43 per person, per year.

Relieve debt Edit

Many developing countries are forced to prioritise the service of crippling financial debt over providing a basic standard of living. Debt sustainability calculations should be based on the amount of revenue that a government can be expected to raise without increasing poverty or compromising future development.

Shifting values Edit

Value systems that emphasise individualism and material consumption are detrimental to well-being, whereas those that promote social interaction and a sense of relatedness are profoundly positive. Government should provide more support for local community initiatives, sports teams, arts projects and so on, whilst acting to discourage the development of materialist values where possible (for example, by banning advertising directed at children).

Support meaningful lives Edit

Governments should recognise the contribution of individuals to economic, social, cultural, and civic life and value unpaid activity. Employers should be encouraged to enable their employees to work flexibly, allowing them to develop full lives outside of the workplace and make time to undertake voluntary work. They should also strive to provide challenges and opportunities for personal development at work.

Empower people and promote good governance Edit

A sense of autonomy is important at all levels for people to thrive, and there is growing evidence that engaging citizens in democratic processes leads to both a more vibrant society and happier citizens. Promoting open and effective governance nationally and internationally, including the peaceful resolution of conflicts and elimination of systematic corruption, is important for all of us achieving greater well-being in the long term.

Identify environmental limits and design economic policy to work within them Edit

The ecological footprint gives us a measure of the Earth's biocapacity that, if over-stretched, leads to long-term environmental degradation. Globally we need to live within our environmental means. One-planet living should become an official target of government policy with a pathway and timetable to achieve it. (The UK currently consumes at just over three times this level. If everyone in the world consumed as we do in the UK, we would need 3.1 planets like Earth to support us.)

Design systems for sustainable consumption and production Edit

We need to reverse the loss of environmental resources, conserve our ecosystems and integrate a sustainable development approach throughout the global community. Ecological taxation can be used to make the price of goods include their full environmental cost, and to encourage behaviour change. Clear consistent labelling that warns of the consequences of consumption, as with tobacco, would also help, as well as giving manufacturers full life-cycle responsibility for what they produce.

Work to tackle climate change Edit

For the UK to play its part in preventing catastrophic and irreversible global warming it is estimated that we will need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions by at least three per cent every year. More broadly, rich countries need to meet and exceed their targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions set under the Kyoto Protocol, cutting emissions to a level commensurate with halting global warming so that temperature rise is kept well below 2°C. After 2012, and in subsequent commitment periods of the Kyoto Protocol, emissions cuts should put industrialised countries on track to savings of up to 80 per cent by 2050.

Measure what matters Edit

People all over the world want to lead happy and complete lives, but we all share just one planet to live on. We urgently need our political organisations to embrace and apply new measures of progress, such as the HPI and adjusted GDP indicators. Only then will we be equipped to address the twin challenges of delivering well-being for all whilst remaining within genuine environmental limits.

Related topics Edit

External links


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