Thursday, July 13, 2006

Poll: RP is 17th happiest country

The Philippine Star
LONDON — The Philippines is the 17th happiest country in the world, according to a study measuring people’s well being and their impact on the environment that was published yesterday.

The Philippines bested more than 160 countries in the "Happy Planet Index" including Indonesia, at No. 23, China (31), Thailand (87), Malaysia (44), India (62), Iceland (64), The Netherlands (70), Spain (87), Hong Kong (88), Denmark (99), Norway (115), Sweden (119), Finland (123) and Australia (129).

The index, compiled by the British think-tank New Economics Foundation (NEF), combines life satisfaction, life expectancy and environmental footprint — the amount of land required to sustain the population and absorb its energy consumption.

The index chose the tiny South Pacific Ocean archipelago of Vanuatu as the happiest country on Earth. Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica and Panama complete the top five.

Zimbabwe came bottom of the 178 countries ranked, below second-worst performer Swaziland, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ukraine.

The Group of Eight industrial powers meet in Saint Petersburg this weekend but have not much to smile about, according to the index.

Italy came out best in 66th place, ahead of Germany (81), Japan (95), Britain (108), Canada (111), France (129), The United States (150) and Russia, in lowly 172nd place.

Andrew Simms, NEF’s policy director, said the index "addresses the relative success or failure of countries in giving their citizens a good life while respecting the environmental resource limits on which all our lives depend."

Nic Marks, the head of NEF’s center for well being, added: "It is clear that no single nation listed in the Happy Planet Index has got everything right.

"But the index does reveal patterns that show how we might better achieve long and happy lives for all, whilst living within our environmental means," he said, according to British daily The Guardian.

"The challenge is: can we learn the lessons and apply them?"

Island nations performed particularly well in the rankings. But Vanuatu, with a population of around 200,000, topped them all.

"Don’t tell too many people, please," said Marke Lowen of Vanuatu Online, the republic’s online newspaper.

"People are generally happy here because they are very satisfied with very little," he told The Guardian.

"This is not a consumer—driven society. Life here is about community and family and goodwill to other people. It’s a place where you don’t worry too much,"

"The only things we fear are cyclones or earthquakes." - AFP

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