In the October 22, 2012 edition of TIME magazine (Business Section), the Pursuit of Happiness and Bhutan’s efforts to advance a new economic paradigm based on well-being and happiness (Gross National Happiness) was profiled including our work on developing Genuine Progress Indicators and building economies of well-being in Edmonton, Leduc and Alberta.
In the article my work, along with others such as Joseph Stiglitz (former chief economist of the World Bank and advisor to France on developing new measures of progress), is profiled.
‘The pace is picking up in Canada, where the province of Alberta and the city of Edmonton have supported the development of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing. It’s similar to Bhutan’s GNH Index, but instead of using survey questions, Canadian researchers created a composite of 64 existing statistics, including work hours and incidence of violent crime, that are considered proxies for various components of well-being. “We didn’t ask Canadians how they feel,” says Mark Anielski, who led the project. Once countries start measuring well-being, it isn’t clear how they should use the data. In Edmonton, the new well-being index is intended simply as another data point to guide long-range strategic planning. At most, “we start to pay attention to inequality of well-being,” Anielski says.’
I believe the world is on the cusp of a major economic paradigm shift from a narrow focus of economic growth (GDP) and profits, to one based on optimizing well-being. I am about to travel to China (Harbin and Shanghai) to encourage China to pursue a new economic vision of an economy of well-being, building on their economic model of a Xiaokang society (a Confucian term meaning a society of moderation). In July 2012 I travelled to Tahiti (French Polynesia) encouraging this beautiful South Pacific community to adopt a new economic of well-being paradigm.
The Pursuit Of Happiness – TIME Oct 22, 2012
A Tribute to Dominic Mishio and the City of Leduc:
How to win an Election based on a Genuine Wealth Approach to Governance
“ The genuine wealth assessment for the City of Leduc is the document that guides our strategic plan. Our priorities are examined by their impact on our capital accounts…The genuine-wealth assessment has broadened the view of council to look at the impact of our decisions in many different ways in the community. Decisions are no longer viewed based just on their financial impact.”
— Dominic Mishio
Alderman and Deputy Mayor (2007-2013)
City of Leduc
Six Years of Genuine Wealth in Leduc (PDF copy of this paper)
Albertans are about to elect a new municipal council of mayor and counsellors on Monday October 21, 2013.
Over the last 7 years I have had the pleasure of being a mentor to my colleague and friend, Dominic Mishio, City of Leduc alderman and deputy mayor (2007-2013).
Dominic first met me at one of the famous Leduc-Nisku Economic Development Authority breakfast meetings in 2006, where he first learned about the Leduc Genuine Wealth (well-being) assessment I was leading for the City of Leduc. At that time Leduc had a population of 16,000 people; today Leduc has over 26,000 people.
Dominic was only 21 at the time I met him. He was so inspired by the Genuine Wealth project that he decided to run for Leduc City Council. He was elected in 2007 as the youngest elected official in Alberta at the age of 22, coming in third place overall amongst the aldermanic candidates. Dominic was also inspired by my quotation of Robert Kennedy who in 1968 critiqued the Gross National Product (now the GDP) as a measure of progress that failed to ‘measure that which makes life worthwhile’ while measuring all the money flows in the economy. Turns out Kennedy is Dominic’s political hero.
What was unique about Dominic’s political campaign is that he adopted a Genuine Wealth approach to his campaign. Using the results of the Genuine Wealth assessment I completed for the City of Leduc and Leduc County in 2006, Dominic went door to door asking people ‘what matters most to you and your quality of life?’ How can we improve the overall well-being of your life and our community? What are your dreams and aspirations for a better life?
The New Economy of Well-being, By Design, for Alberta
August 31, 2013
What if Alberta’s economic development strategies were oriented towards enabling the highest possible conditions of well-being that yields genuine happiness and joy?
Are there design features for our cities, communities, neighbourhoods, businesses and our personal lives that would result in the highest possible ‘returns’ to well-being (versus GDP or profits) on investment in the human, social, natural, built and financial capital assets?
Is there a way of measuring well-being impacts and social value from projects and programs of businesses, enterprises, and governments (local, provincial and federal)?
With my colleagues Robert McGarvey, Bill Craig and Dominic Mishio at the Genuine Wealth Institute (and www.genuinewealthinc.com) we believe it is possible to design, build and operate businesses, neighbourhoods, and communities that generate what we all want: a high quality of life, well-being and enduring happiness.
We believe well-being will become the new ‘bottom line’ and the ultimate ‘purpose’ of business, governments, neighbourhoods and communities.
Ensuring Sustainable Happiness through Local Food Security for Edmonton
(this was based on presentation I made January 30, 2009 at the Food Today, Tomorrow and Forever conference in Edmonton, Alberta)
Potato Fields: Urban Farmland in Northeast Edmonton (Horsehills)
As the 2013 municipal election will soon be upon our great city of Edmonton, I would like to challenge all mayoral and counsellor candidates to consider an important question:
Could happiness and wellbeing be improved in Edmonton by securing enough ‘foodland’ within Edmonton’s boundaries to feed one million people in perpetuity?
Will the new city council have the courage and wisdom to treat the most productive food (farm) land in Alberta (with the longest growing season) as a strategy asset?
Abraham Lincoln and China’s next great leap forward
Using principles he laid down, China could become the first model of an ‘economy of well-being’
EDMONTON, AB, Jun 14, 2013/ Troy Media/ – How ironic would it be if China were offering the world a solution to its protracted global debt crisis based on the ideas of Abraham Lincoln? It was Lincoln who argued that governments should create a sufficient money supply without the costs (i.e. interest charges) that private banks charge when they issue loans.
At its recent 18th annual congress, the Communist Party adopted a fifth and important pillar of its national constitution called an ‘ecological civilization.’ What is ecological civilization and what does this mean for the world?
Ecological civilization originates from the ideas and concepts advanced by economist Herman Daly and John Cobb Jr., an American Methodist theologian and philosopher, in their seminal work For the Common Good. Cobb has played a key role in advancing the concept of ecological civilization with China.
At the heart of China’s economic development policy is the Confucian ideal of ‘xiaokang’. Xiaokang literally means ‘a society of well-being’, or of moderately well off Chinese citizens. In my own work I have advanced a similar concept I call ‘genuine wealth’, with wealth redefined according to its original 13th Century English roots meaning ‘the conditions of well-being.’
Xiaokang has been the foundation of China’s economic development policy since 1991, when it was originally defined in terms of a target of roughly US$4000 per capita. In 2011, China’s GDP per capita was estimated at US$8,382 PPP (purchasing power parity) per capita.