On 20 March, the first ever International Day of Happiness will be celebrated worldwide. The day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly to promote happiness as a universal goal and aspiration in the lives of people around the globe.
The initiative to declare a day of happiness came from the Kingdom of Bhutan – a country whose Gross National Happiness Index takes the view that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of well-being.
The International Day of Happiness recognizes the efforts of other nations and groups who work to measure prosperity that go beyond material wealth. By designating a special day for happiness, the UN aims to focus world attention on the idea that economic growth must be inclusive, equitable, and balanced, such that it promotes sustainable development and alleviates poverty.
“At last year’s Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, United Nations Member States agreed on the need for a balanced approach to sustainable development by integrating its three pillars – economic growth, social development and environmental protection”, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon explained, emphasizing the need for broader measures of progress to complement the Gross Domestic Product.
Additionally, the UN acknowledges that in order to attain global happiness, economic development must be accompanied by social and environmental well being.
The first observance of the International Day of Happiness is organized by the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) in association with the Permanent Mission of Bhutan to the United Nations. The event will take place at UN Headquarters on Wednesday, 20 March at 1:15 – 2:45 p.m. in Conference Room 3 (North Lawn building).
In addition, a special event arranged at UN Headquarters on 19 March at 6 pm, will also mark this occasion. There will be a launch of the audio book by Sri Chinmoy, Founder of the Peace Meditation at the United Nations. A piano performance by composer Philip Glass will set the stage for the welcome address by Archbishop Desmond Tutu (via video) and remarks by former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury. Professor Robert Thurman from Columbia University will deliver the keynote address.
Ban Ki-moon affirms that, “On this first International Day of Happiness, let us reinforce our commitment to inclusive and sustainable human development and renew our pledge to help others. When we contribute to the common good, we ourselves are enriched. Compassion promotes happiness and will help build the future we want”.