7th September 2016
Anyone who's enjoyed holidays to Vanuatu will know the happiness that overcomes you when you're there. You can't wipe the smile off your face when every day you wake up to glorious weather, pristine beaches and crystal clear water ready for another day of fun activities and sightseeing surrounded by the always smiling Vanuatu people. Any day spent in paradise rather than at work is reason to smile, but what about the local people who spend every day in paradise? Is it even possible to get accustomed to or, dare we say it, take for granted the utopia in which they live?
Apparently not, because Vanuatu has just been named the Asia Pacific region's happiest country and the fourth happiest country in the entire world. Why wouldn't they be happy? They live in heaven on earth! In a report released by the Happy Planet Index, Vanuatu ranked highly thanks to the wellbeing of its people and the sustainable way in which the people live their lives. Measuring life expectancy, human wellbeing and the environmental footprint of a country, the Happy Planet Index is a compass to guide nations in how to live the good life without costing the earth.
The Happy Planet Index measures what really matters, long term sustainable wellbeing for the world's population. Its report tells us which nations are doing well in achieving high life expectancy and general wellbeing while maintaining a small ecological impact. Often seen as the world standard for 'success', wealthy Western countries typically don't rank highly on the Happy Planet Index. In fact Australia didn't even make it into the top 100. Instead, a number of countries in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region are leading the way.
Although the current life expectancy in Vanuatu is 71.3, which is less than a lot of other countries in the Asia Pacific region, it ranks so highly because of the wellbeing of its people and the minimal impact its national has on the environment. Vanuatu's ecological footprint is so minimal thanks to its use of renewable resources including solar power, hydropower, wind and coconut bio-fuel. In fact, in 2011 34 per cent of all energy consumed by Vanuatu came from renewable resources and by 2030 Vanuatu aims to be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy.
This isn't the first time the Happy Planet Index has recognised the people of Vanuatu's satisfaction with their lifestyle. In 2006 Vanuatu topped the list and was named the happiest country in the world. This year that honour was given to Costa Rica. The creators of the index say that Vanuatu's strengths lie in its community and family values while not being driven by consumerism. Perhaps that can be a lesson to us all.