Julia Kim
(Bhutan, Canada)

Title of contribution:

Bhutan, GNH & Creating a Wellbeing Economy

Where & when:


Bhutan, GNH & Creating a Wellbeing Economy

At a time of unprecedented social, economic and environmental crisis, many leaders are starting to question our current measures of growth and prosperity. Why is it that in many countries, the pursuit of GDP growth has not translated into greater happiness and wellbeing? In Bhutan, the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) was introduced in the 1970s, and is now attracting growing international attention. GNH draws inspiration from the Buddhist “middle path” of sustaining a balanced development that recognizes both the material and intangible aspects of wellbeing. It puts forward a holistic and sustainable approach to development, based on balancing 9 domains of progress. GNH asks “what does it mean to live a good life?” and embraces an eco-centric (rather than ego-centric) worldview – one that values and acknowledges the interconnected web of life.
Dr. Kim will describe how the principles and practices of GNH are being applied in Bhutan and beyond. How might a shift in consciousness, combined with wider systems change, point us towards a happier and more sustainable economy and society? We will explore the latest scientific research on wellbeing (e.g. neuroscience, positive psychology, social epidemiology) as well as describe how alternative measures of progress are being adopted within key areas such as government, education and business. Growing interest in GNH and other “Beyond GDP” approaches within Canada and among indigenous communities, will also be highlighted.

About Julia Kim:

Julia is the Program Director of the Gross National Happiness Centre Bhutan, which aims to promote Wellbeing Economies based on human flourishing, in balance with nature. She previously worked as a global health & development advisor in Africa & Asia, as well as the UN in New York. Julia is a member of the Club of Rome and an associate of the Presencing Institute – a global network that views awareness-based systems change as a key capacity for 21st Century innovation & leadership.


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