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H.E. Mr. Jigmi Yoezer Thinley, Prime Minister

26 September 2008

Statement Summary

JIGMI Y. THINLEY, Prime Minister of Bhutan, said the international community was facing a host of serious challenges -- from natural disasters to food and financing crises, to dwindling water resources -- that were testing the relevance of the United Nations and the resolve of its Member States to work together.  Those crises, as well as the threats of terrorism and extremism, threatened to undermine what the international community had achieved collectively and as individual States.  Bhutan viewed those developments as interconnected symptoms of a “larger and deeper malaise” that threatened everyone’s collective well-being and survival.

The oil crisis, soaring prices of metals and diminishing water reserves were linked to the exploitation and waste of scarce natural resources.  The primary factor behind the financial crisis was a culture of “living beyond our means”, of private profiteering and socializing risks.  Those troubles were the outcomes of a way of life that was dictated by the powerful ethics of consumerism in a world of finite resources.

He pointed to increasingly unpredictable natural disasters, such as drought, cyclones, hurricanes and floods, as indications of climate change.  There was the danger of increasing hunger in a world where too many people already were starving, where diseases abounded, and where new epidemics threatened man, other life forms and even food crops.  Deepening poverty, not unlike the food crisis, was also a sign of the disintegration of communities.  Those multiple challenges brought out in sharp focus the “shameful inequities” of a society that failed to share and distribute the enormous wealth it had created to satisfy man’s insatiable greed.

He said Bhutan was involved in global efforts to develop new indicators to measure real human progress.  Bhutan had pursued a unique development path guided by the former King’s philosophy of gross national happiness (GNH as opposed to GDP) since the early 1970s.  Gross national happiness was based on the belief that happiness was the single most important goal.  Indeed, the goal of development was the promotion and enhancement of happiness.  That concept emphasized a balanced life that matched the material needs of the body, with the spiritual, psychological and emotional needs of the mind.  The Royal Government structured its development programme on four broad themes:  sustainable and equitable socio-economic development, not growth; environmental conservation; promotion of culture; and good governance.

[Source: GA/10756]