Messages for Student Summit

Mieko Nishimizu

Former Vice President, The World Bank

Her message to students of the world

We belong to one inescapable network of mutuality – of ecosystems, of free movement of information, people, capital, goods and services, and of peace and security. We are tied in a single fabric of destiny on Planet Earth.

Policies and actions that attempt to tear this cloth will inevitably fail, by impoverishing the very wealth they intend to protect. But, what does it take for nation states to think beyond national borders and myopic self-interests?

The answer is the like-minded leaders such as you, at this Student Summit for Sustainability. Enlightened policies that raise the sights of a people, beyond the immediate to a greater gain for all, are made possible by leaders of vision and courage. You are such leaders who will change our world.

Too many nations have grown rich while losing sight of their culture, spirituality, and harmony with nature and with other peoples. Even more, alas, have grown poorer doing the same.

Feeling discouraged? Then, look to a role model to keep your flame burning.

There is a small Himalayan nation who has chosen a different path. Decades ago, Bhutan set "Gross National Happiness" as the foundation for public policy in guiding its development.

In Bhutan’s cultural context, "development" means "enlightenment." Happiness is regarded a complete view of human development that transcends the material. Spiritual development is as prominent a focus as material development in Bhutan’s policies. Happiness is to be made more probable by creating a harmonious psychological, social, economic and natural environment within which to live.

This holistic view of development has naturally led Bhutan, for instance, to execute environmentally sustainable development at the cutting-edge of world practice, long before others woke up to the Earth’s deteriorating ecosystems. In a world suffering from climate change with insufficient actions, Bhutan takes pride in protecting and expanding its pristine forest as the global sink service.

The greatest challenge of this third millennium, for every nation on Earth, will be to secure the happiness of the people. The Student Summit gives us hope that this century will see the world's collective energies devoted to a higher endeavor, aiming not to pacify the insatiable self but to bring happiness and peace to all!