Happiness at the U.N.

Chris Stampar and Prime Minister of Bhutan Mr. Jigmi Y. Thinley at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

I stood in the midst of the United Nations Headquarters as a room of 600 applauded me, barely grasping the reality of what had just happened.

It sounds like a dream I was rudely awoken from, but it wasn’t. This past Monday I attended a meeting at the United Nations in New York convened by the Government of Bhutan entitled “Happiness and Wellbeing: Defining a New Economic Paradigm”. I was excited enough since receiving a letter from the Honorable Prime Minister of Bhutan inviting me to participate in a global discussion on how the international economy can be redesigned to incorporate and value the social welfare and happiness of people around the world.

Monday began with a series of remarkable addresses by the likes of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the President of Costa Rica Mrs. Laura Chinchilla, the Prime Minister of Bhutan Mr. Jigmi Y. Thinley (see picture), and Ministers from France, China, Thailand, and countless others.

During a working lunch on Monday, I led a group of ten individuals on a discussion of Ecological Sustainability, one of the key pillars of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Philosophy. We all agreed that sustainable agriculture must play a critical role, youth must be involved, and individuals need to change their patterns of consumption. It was the most lively and productive lunch I’ve ever had!

This is where the dream began. After the conference reconvened at the UN for our afternoon session, the Chair of the committee opened a series of great contributions from panel speakers, and input from the participants.

Listen to Chris’s speech here (scroll down to 1:23:45).

Without hesitation I raised my hand high amongst the crowd, and the Chairwoman called me to speak. I spent three precious minutes addressing the entire conference on the results from our lunch discussion, which allowed me to emphasize the importance of sustainable agriculture (please read and sign our petition here) and youth participation to the group. I think the room was a bit confused when I told them I was only 19.
As my speech winded down, the Chairwoman asked me to stand so I could be seen, and the entire room started to clap. There was never a greater need for that quintessential “pinch” to let me know this was really happening.

It was one of the best moments of my life.


“Happiness and well-being” – High level panel discussion (Part 2)
To listen to Chris’s speech, scroll down to 1:23:45

One Response so far.

  1. [...] Young People Tire of Old Economic Models By ANDREW C. REVKIN At the recent United Nations conference on “gross national happiness,” a scattering of young participants looked on with a clear sense of urgency as mainly graying dignitaries, economists, scholars and others pondered ways to gauge progress that go beyond traditional monetary measures. One was Christopher Stampar, a sophomore from the University of Miami who works for the nonprofit group Nourish 9 Billion. He received one of the most enthusiastic rounds of applause when he let it slip that he was 19. Read his blog post on the experience here. [...]

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