There is plenty of talk about "Building Back Better" across the globe, but little agreement about what it means. For some, the quest is to get back to where we were in economic terms as fast - and as strongly - as possible. For others, it means we should rebuild a green economy with climate friendly business practices. There is, for the most part, agreement in both camps to that what we are building back is our economy.
But what if both camps are missing the mark? Yes, the economy is important, but it is not everything. Most important is that the economy exists to serve our wellbeing - not the other way around. This is something many seem to forget. Moreover, crucial to our wellbeing is the health of the environment, the trustworthiness of our governments and corporations, our access to good heath care, education and justice, and our ability to feed, house and clothe ourselves, as well as other factors that are instrumental to wellbeing. Professor Peter Victor of York University agrees that wellbeing is what we should be building back better for, not more of what got us here in the first place.
Two years ago our project, Planet Happiness was born to bring the happiness and wellbeing movement to the tourism sector. We built on almost a decade of work with communities to deliver proven processes to governments, destination management organizations (DMOs), educators and community organizers with, today, some great successes. We started the project pre-pandemic in the face of over-tourism. Today, in response to building back better, as noted by Andre Mayer (2021), our work is more important than ever.
Why? Because wellbeing is the way to build back better. Using survey-based wellbeing metrics, like the Happiness Index, gives everybody - from economic policy makers to NGO decision makers and community councils - the information they need to understand people's priorities and needs. Objective wellbeing metrics, like the Human Development Index or the Genuine Progress Indicator, measure tangible and observable outcomes. Together, subjective and objective wellbeing indicators can give a balanced picture and the data, analyzed in tandem, can give the whole picture. Something merely economic metrics can never do, just as merely one dimension of any of the aspects of wellbeing cannot.
Wellbeing metrics are one piece of the puzzle in building back better, but they are a good start. July of 2021, Planet Happiness' Paul Rogers, PhD, brought together some of the top leaders in the tourism industry for a High Level Meeting to discuss what those pieces are and how to put together the puzzle for truly building the tourism sector back better - for the wellbeing of host communities, tourists, governments, businesses and the planet.
More about that in the next post. In the meantime, you can contribute to building back better by spreading the word about the Happiness Index and encouraging your friends to take the survey, see what it says about their own happiness and have a conversation about what building back better looks like for you when we live in a world where the wellbeing of all matters most.