The world faces crises ranging from economic instability and growing inequality; energy, water and food shortages; global warming and loss of ecological integrity. These are all symptoms of a system that is unsustainable.

A global movement has formed to present the world with a new way of organizing ourselves, doing business, and rising to meet the crises. In July 2011, the United Nations issued a Resolution titled “Happiness: Towards a holistic approach to development” (65/309). Introduced by the Kingdom of Bhutan, co-sponsored by 68 countries and adopted by consensus, this resolution called on the nations of the world to shift from a development path of increasing GNP to one that ensures a path to wellbeing and happiness for all life.

On 2 April 2012, the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) hosted a High-Level Meeting on “Wellbeing & Happiness: Towards a New Economic Paradigm” at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The 2nd April meeting requested Bhutan to convene an International Expert Working Group (IEWG) to elaborate the details of a new paradigm based on human happiness and the wellbeing of all life forms as the ultimate goal, purpose and context of development.

His Majesty the King of Bhutan subsequently established the IEWG on 28th July 2012, with the mandate to articulate and elaborate the goals, conceptual framework, structures and processes of a proposed New Development Paradigm (NDP). The IEWG is an independent body of researchers chosen for their expertise in the various aspects of science, policy, and practice in tackling the world’s most serious challenges.

Bhutan’s initiative is one of many global efforts to define a new global development agenda. The UN has appointed a High Level Panel to coordinate efforts to establish a new set of development goals, various UN agencies are conducting national and sector consultations on how to replace the Millennium Development Goals when they expire in 2015. The ASAP team, initially drawn from IEWG members, recognized the need to create a broader alliance to include individuals, groups, civil societies, non-governmental and state bodies in order to harness our collective thinking and common goal.