WGS 2018: Governments Need to Prioritize Wellbeing of Citizens, Say International Experts
Chair of World Happiness Council leads discussion on findings from first-ever Global Happiness Policy Report
Dubai-UAE: 12 February, 2018 – Professor Jeffrey Sachs, renowned economist and Chair of the World Happiness Council, led a plenary session to discuss the findings of the first Global Happiness Policy Report on the opening day of the sixth World Government Summit (WGS 2018) in Dubai.
In the session titled ‘Insights and Reflections from the Global Happiness Policy Report’, industry experts highlighted key takeaways from the report, unanimously agreeing that governments need to prioritize the wellbeing of their citizens.
Fellow World Happiness Council members, economist Richard Layard and psychologist Martin Seligman, joined Professor Sachs in the discussion along with economist Jan-Emmanuel De Neve.
Initiating the dialogue, Professor Sachs said: “If you teach happiness and propound altruistic philosophy, you are actually happier. This report is a compendium of important case studies on the application of the science of happiness, and will help governments understand, measure and monitor happiness around the world. Only 22 of the 193 governments present at the United Nations currently have happiness policies in place. Our mission is to spread this information in the world community.”
For his part, Richard Layard observed that tackling mental illness and the stigma that surrounds it remains a challenge today. He said: “Even in developed nations, only a quarter of people with mental illnesses and similar conditions get treated. This would cause an outrage if these numbers reflected treatment for physical disabilities.”
Expressing his belief that studies such as the Global Happiness Policy Report are making it easier to evaluate policy based on wellbeing, he added: “In the past, policy makers have said that they do not have enough information to enact proper change and tackle mental illnesses and other negative emotions. This challenge has now been addressed by this report, which provides comprehensive data on happiness and its quantitative, measurable benefits.”
Turning the focus on the mental well-being of children and young adults, Martin Seligman noted that learning to be happy starts in school. He said: “Everyone wants to make children happy. It turns out there are validated techniques that enhance positive emotions, a quality that is intrinsically valuable in itself, and that can increase a student’s literacy, numeracy and scientific understanding.”
Shedding light on the importance of work for our well-being, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve added: “Work provides a purpose, establishes social relationships, structure and routine in our daily lives. There are four ways in which you can increase your job satisfaction and engagement: by improving work-life balance, by getting essential skills training, by gaining autonomy and, most importantly, by improving the relationship with your superiors.”
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the formation of the 14-member World Happiness Council in March 2017. As a result of the Council’s effort to help governments adopt happiness in their policies and programs, and assemble global evidence about which policies are likely to be most effective in improving lives, the Global Happiness Policy Report provides global best practices and an inventory of more than 150 inspirational ideas and experience of happiness and wellbeing from around the world.
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the World Government Summit 2018 runs from February 11 to 13 at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. The landmark event convenes more than 4,000 participants from 140 countries, including heads of state and governments, as well as top-tier representatives of 16 international organizations.
Hosting more than 130 speakers across 120 interactive sessions, WGS 2018 features six distinct forums that examine the challenges of vital sectors for the future with a view to finding the best resolutions for the greater global good. Furthermore, over 20 specialized global reports spanning key sectors and topics of the summit are being launched during the event.
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