|Photo Credit: Bhutan|
Some important quotes include:
- "Society is crumbling, climate is changing, ecosystems are collapsing, resources are depleting, and civilization is clearly headed backward to the primordial state of the survival of the fittest. As species die in quick succession, mankind's own extinction draws nearer."
- "Sustainable Development means survival. It is about how we as a species must live within the bounds of what nature can provide."
- "And well-being we realize is not about accumulating or consuming material wealth, it is about cultivating and enjoying good health and knowledge, peace, security, and justice, equality and meaningful relationships. These are the essential conditions that promote freedom and the ability and will to pursue happiness: the true measure of human civilization."
- "Sustainability, Well-Being, and Happiness are still within our reach. Let us seize the opportunity here and now for in another twenty years humanity will have crossed the point of no return."
(Being) woefully aware that our generation has not only consumed our share of natural resources but that of future generations, I will do my best to ensure that I will not consume the time that belongs to succeeding speakers.
Propelled by technology, fueled by greed and driven by GDP, the path mankind trod for more than half a century brought us to a crossroads here at Rio, 20 years ago. Despite agreeing to make a turn, we accelerated onward. Those who lagged behind hoped to catchup, while those ahead spurred on to keep their lead in the race to extract, produce, sell, and consume more in a world with less and fewer resources.
The costs of reckless speeding along the highway of so-called development have been devastating. Society is crumbling, climate is changing, ecosystems are collapsing, resources are depleting, and civilization is clearly headed backward to the primordial state of the survival of the fittest. As species die in quick succession, mankind's own extinction draws nearer.
Indeed, survival is the question of the day. Surely, it is this fear and the knowledge of having .. that have brought us back to Rio after 20 years. After two more decades of living dangerously and hurdling ourselves toward annihilation yet we speak not of the harsh reality of life or death that stares at us.
Choosing gentler language, we argue about sustainability and green economy, words with enough ambiguity to divide us on the very issue of our survival that should unite us. In being euphemistic, let us at least not underplay the dire state of humanity.
Sustainable Development means survival. It is about how we as a species must live within the bounds of what nature can provide.
It is neither an ideal beyond the reach of the poor, not a threat to the rich and affluent. Sustainable Development is not a choice. It is an absolute necessity.
The need of the hour is saner, safer, and sustained paths. But where do we go from here? Unless we can agree on a vision to guide us, society will remain rudderless in a perilous sea. But that need not be. As highly evolved beings with social, intellectual and emotional needs, we do share a common vision: the ultimate dream of happiness. This aspiration transcends all the dividing contours of society and has the power to unite all of humanity. It is this goal which the new path must aim to reach.
The search for happiness, which is a deep, abiding sense of harmony with the natural world of compassion, contentment and joy, is not just a private yearning; it is a universal goal. When we trivialize happiness, we trivialize the meaning and purpose of life. Beyond providing the perfect motivation for survival, happiness causes us to live well, for living well is the wellspring of happiness. And well-being we realize is not about accumulating or consuming material wealth, it is about cultivating and enjoying good health and knowledge, peace, security, and justice, equality and meaningful relationships. These are the essential conditions that promote freedom and the ability and will to pursue happiness: the true measure of human civilization.
These conditions of sustainability: well-being and happiness are interdependent. Without happiness there can be no appreciation of the beauty and preciousness of life and our natural world. And without well-being, happiness can never be. So likewise, well-being that may otherwise come at the cost of planetary well-being, can only be moderated by consideration of sustainability and happiness.
Civilization has reached the time and moment to acknowledge the primacy of this innermost human yearning and to make the purpose of development the creation of enabling conditions for its pursuit. It is with this conviction that for four decades Bhutan has made happiness, this quest of every citizen, the object of public policy and resources. In so doing, we are supported by the comprehensive index of nine domains and seventy-two variables still undergoing refinement to measure both the subjective and objective dimensions and conditions of happiness.
The world desperately needs a consensus for collective action, but it would be wrong and irresponsible to subject all our actions to what we may or may not agree here in Rio.
Life after all is not negotiable, and yet this is what our delegations have had to do in preparing the outcome document that takes care of all sensitivities and accommodates all kinds of doubts and suspicions, and so the document will fall far short of what must be done.
Let us therefore pledge that each of us as sovereign countries and leaders will do far more in our own countries and assist the weaker nations among us. In this regard, it is most heartening that where collective endeavor has failed, much has been done and more continues at the sovereign, sub-national, community, and individual levels.
The unraveling of the GDP-based economic model and the immeasurable damage that it has caused to society, have attracted interest in Bhutan's Sustainable Development Paradigm that emphasizes Sustainability, Equity, Human Values, Ecological Resilience, and Good Governance.
Its acceptance by the international community has been marked by the unanimous adoption of the resolution on well-being and happiness by the UN General Assembly in July 2011. This led to the very successful high-level meeting on the subject in April this year at the UN Headquarters in New York.
As urged by the high-level meeting, His Majesty The King of Bhutan is now establishing an International Working Group of experts to elaborate the architecture of the new development paradigm that was agreed upon by the meeting. This group will work closely with the high-level panel just appointed by the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon so that the UNGA in 2013 and 2014 in the 68th and 69th sessions will have before it two separate but complementary reports.
It is our hope that these will help the world to pave a new path toward a sustainable and meaningful life.
Ladies and Gentlemen, not only is Rio the last opportunity for humanity to prevent its own extinction but for civilization to truly flourish. Sustainability, Well-Being, and Happiness are still within our reach. Let us seize the opportunity here and now for in another twenty years humanity will have crossed the point of no return.
I wish the conference great success. Thank you.