There’s wealth, there’s health, there’s basic human freedoms. These criteria are essential in determining the quality of life in any place of the world.
But a new study takes a different approach. The Happy Planet Index, which has just published its 2016 edition, measures health and happiness not in isolation but against a crucial new gold standard for success: SUSTAINABILITY.
In this calculation, the most successful countries are those where people live long and happy lives at little cost to the environment.
But what is the happiest country in the whole world?
Suprisingly, on the top 10 happiest countries list there is not even one wealthy Western country. Neither a progressive Nordic one that normally bags the lifestyle laurels.
When it comes to people’s ability to live good lives within sustainable limits, Latin American and Asia Pacific countries are ahead of the crowd!
But the one country that stands out, the happiest country in the whole world according to “The Happy Planet Index” is: Costa Rica!
Costa Rica tops the ranking for the third time. It is the happiest and most sustainable country on Earth!
It has an average satisfaction and happiness level of 7.3 (on a scale from 0 to 10), it has an average life expectancy of 79.1 years, high level of equality and low ecological footprint (the average impact that each resident of a country places on the environment).
What places the country time and again at the top of the index is that it delivers all this health and happiness while using a mere quarter of the resources that are typically used in the Western world.
How does it do that?
Chiefly through a strong commitment to the environment:
99% of the country’s electricity supply is said to come from renewable sources, and the government has pledged to make the country carbon neutral by 2021. Other factors include robust investing in social programs such as health and education, with public money that has been all the more plentiful since the abolition of the national army in 1949.
Wealthier Western countries tend to score highly when it comes to life expectancy and well-being, but the high environmental cost of their lifestyle drastically decreases their ratings. The US, for instance, has one of the largest ecological footprints in the world.
Of the Scandinavian nations, only Norway appears in the index’s top 20.
However, Costa Rica seems to have discovered the secret formula on how to deliver happiness and well being to its people without turning its back on the environment.
It is wise to seek the solution for a better world exactly from these Latin American and Asian countries. The Western world can learn so much!
Here are some images of this paradise: