ThinleyFormer Prime Minister of Bhutan

Society is in dire need of reclaiming humanity, of re-evaluating and resetting its goals for development. But values in themselves are not enough. And wrong and immoral ends are deadly. We need a wise and ethical vision that will bring all of humanity together guide societal change. Such a vision must arise from an understanding of what constitutes development, personal wealth and societal prosperity in the human context and for a kind that has the sacred responsibility of stewardship over all other interdependent life forms that make and share this planet.

Mr. Jigmi Y Thinley was the Prime Minister of the first democratically elected government of Bhutan during the period 2008 – 2013. Earlier, he served as his country’s minister of culture, foreign minister and as ambassador to the UN and several European countries.

Having always championed holistic, inclusive and sustainable development, he played a leading role in ensuring that Bhutan’s development plans are not aimed at short term gains. He introduced his country’s concept of Gross National Happiness to the international community when he addressed the UNDP Asia Pacific Millennium Summit here in Seoul in 1998.

Mr. Thinley’s government achieved an average economic growth rate of 8%, halved unemployment down to 2.1%. and reduced national poverty rate from 23% to 12%. These achievements were made without any ecological costs under stringent environmental conditions which resulted in the country having actually become greener with 81% forest cover.

In 2012, Mr. Thinley convened the High Level Meeting on Wellbeing and Happiness: A New Economic Paradigm at the United Nations. He has since led an international working group on the framing of a new development paradigm which submitted its report to the UN General Assembly to inform the ongoing intergovernmental discourse on defining new goals for the post MDG era.