President joins others at U.N. seeking new economic paradigm

Casa Presdiencial photo Michelle Bachelet, the former president of Chile and now head of U.N. Woman, greets Ms. Chinchilla.

President Laura Chinchilla Miranda was among those Monday promoting a new economic paradigm that incorporates social and environmental progress in efforts to achieve sustainable development. Also promoting the concept was U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The location was a meeting in New York convened by the Government of Butan titled “Happiness and Well-being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm.”

Ms. Chinchilla noted in a speech that development has been measured in terms of national income.

She also said countries like Costa Rica in the tropics are paying a high cost for the impact of global warming due to hurricanes and prolonged droughts. That was a replay of her comments in October at a Central American meeting when she said that smaller countries should be compensated for the weather problems brought about by the industrialized nations. A.M. Costa Rica quoted historical sources at the time that said the worst Caribbean hurricane was in 1776.

The meeting Monday was a preliminary to the  U.N. Sustainable Development Conference, also known as Rio+20, in Brazil in June.

“We need a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness,” the secretary general told the meeting’s participants.

In the early 1970s, the Himalayan kingdom introduced a new measurement of national prosperity, focusing on people’s well-being rather than economic productivity, the U.N.noted. In recent years, there has been growing interest in this concept known as gross national happiness.  The General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2011, which noted that the gross domestic product indicator does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of people in a country.

Ms. Chinchilla noted that the New Economics Foundation put Costa Rica first in its happiness index. She also cited the recent World Happiness Report by Jeffry Sachs, John Helliwell and Richard Layar in which Costa Rica received a positive mention.

Casa Presidencial noted that Sachs, director of Earth Institute, was at the meeting. He is from Columbia University in New York.

Ms. Chinchilla gave her listeners a brief history lesson about Costa Rica and its long concern for the environment and its abolition of the military in 1948. She promoted a holistic approach for what she termed integral development.

Ban praised the Bhutanese government for initiating the meeting, and noted that other countries have also started to explore various ways to measure prosperity that go beyond material wealth such as Costa Rica, which strongly supports environmentally responsible development, and the United Kingdom, where statistical authorities are experimenting with measuring national well being.

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