Valuing the contribution of the environment to Gross National Happiness in Bhutan

Research reports and studies
December 2011
Jessica Brown and Neil Bird
Unlike many developing countries in which the environment has remained a low priority for public investment and policy formation, the Government of Bhutan has placed environmental conservation at the core of its development strategy. All major development initiatives are evaluated in relation to their environmental impact. Bhutan therefore provides important lessons for the international community on how to mainstream environment into national development planning, and how to balance the demands of globalisation with the importance of maintaining natural heritage and the environment.

This story of progress describes how a country committed to cultural and religious preservation has developed a successful approach to sustainable development and environmental conservation. Understanding how environmental progress has been made needs to take into account Bhutan's historical context and its overarching approach to development, as captured in the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH).