The Happy Planet Index ranks 143 nations of the world annually based upon a combination of environmental policy and overall human well being. This year, Costa Rica topped the chart.
The goal of the ratings is to measure what the Index calls overall “environmental efficiency”, and it is the most comprehensive such listing which takes into consideration social issues along with the environment. The listings look at the well being and environmental impact of about 99% of the world’s population. Impressive!
According to the Guardian:
The HPI is a much better way of looking the success of countries than through standard measures of economic growth. The HPI shows, for example, that fast-growing economies such as the US, China and India were all greener and happier 20 years ago than they are today…Costa Ricans top the list because they report the highest life satisfaction in the world, they live slightly longer than Americans, yet have an ecological footprint that is less than a quarter the size.
The United States ranked at a dismal 114th place out of the 143. Meanwhile, Latin American countries dominated the top 10 and African nations bottomed out on the list.
All in all, the idea is to promote a different way of looking at well being. While nations like the U.S. may appear to have it all and, likewise, consume it all, happiness and satisfaction, as well as overall positive impact on the happiness and satisfaction of others, is measured in broader terms.
We think the measurements are pretty dead on, and their point is poignant. Expats, especially those living in Costa Rica, and aspiring expats have known for a long time: by broadening your horizons, traveling abroad and doing so with a lighter footprint, the good life may be best found elsewhere.
But wherever you happen to be, it’s an important lesson to remember that smaller ecological footprints go hand-in-hand with well-being and longevity.