World Happiness Report, which ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be, released today
- Research by Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve into sustainable development goals (SDGs) finds sustainable development key to wellbeing in more developed countries
- Achieving the climate-related SDGs reduces current happiness
- First ranking of the happiness of cities finds metropolitan areas have lower wellbeing scores than countryside in more developed countries.
The more economically developed a country is, the more it needs to focus on sustainable, SDG-based development to increase the wellbeing of its citizens.
The 2020 World Happiness Report explores the relationship between the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations and the happiness of the countries that are implementing them. The report found increasing marginal returns to sustainable development in terms of well-being.
‘Overall, we find an increasingly tight relationship between progress towards the SDGs and happiness, which is most significant in the Nordic countries,’ explains Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Professor at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford and co-author of two chapters: Sustainable Development and Human Well-Being and Cities and Happiness: A Global Ranking and Analysis.
However, not all SDGs correlate positively with wellbeing. SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) asks countries to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, essentially ‘doing more and better with less.’ SDG 13 (Climate Action) urges countries to combat climate change to avoid a 3 degree increase in the earth’s surface temperature this century, and the serious consequences that would result. Co-authors Professor De Neve and Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University found that both these goals, while essential to the health of the planet, make people less happy, raising a stark policy dilemma for governments across the world.