| There is much the rest of the world could learn from Bhutan through its concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH), which balances growth and sustainable development, said the World Banks Managing Director, Mr Graeme Wheeler.
Bhutan has been translating this philosophy into action on the ground, it has been practicing what other countries need to do, said Mr Wheeler, who was in the country from November 2-6. We need to extend the concept of Gross National Happiness to Gross Inter-National Happiness.
Mr Wheeler said that the World Bank looked at government performance across many countries that it partnered with and Bhutan was at the top.
When we partner with the Bhutanese government, it is a valuable one, where we at the World Bank learn a lot from Bhutan, he said, adding that preservation of cultural values, good governance and conservation of the environment were all fundamental to what they did in the World Bank and talked to other governments about. We dont call it Gross Inter-National Happiness but philosophically and practically its the same.
Mr Wheeler said that Bhutan could play a critical role in showing the world how to respond to climate change, which today posed massive challenges to the international community.
Over the past three decades, two-thirds of the greenhouse gases were produced by developed countries, which have prospered enormously. Yet over the next three decades, Mr Wheeler said, two-thirds of the growth in greenhouse gases would come from developing countries.
Developing countries are concerned that the richer countries wanted to impose environmental measures that would impede their growth while, among some of the rich countries, there was a reluctance to take action that might improve the environment but slow down their economy.
Bhutan would play an important role in the global effort to address climate change in terms of the way it thought about the use of forestry and how the constitution protects land use for forestry, Mr Wheeler said.
On the effect of climate change on Bhutan, he said that there existed considerable evidence that ice covers in the eastern Himalayas had declined by 30 percent and, as the process continued, it would have a mixed effect in Bhutan.
Mr Wheeler said that as Bhutan developed, creating opportunities in the private sector for new businesses was essential because growth in many developing countries was mainly through small and mid-sized enterprises.
The government cant absorb the enormously talented people coming out of universities and high schools, said Mr Wheeler. It has got to be the private sector and youve got to create the opportunity through removing regulations. That makes it easy for people to set up businesses.
Mr Wheeler joined the World Bank in 1997 as the director of the Financial Products and Services Department and later became the vice president and treasurer of the bank. Currently he is the managing director of operations in the bank responsible for Europe and central Asia, South Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.
By Samten Wangchuk