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The Happy Planet Index (HPI) measures how well nations are doing at achieving sustainable wellbeing. In other words, how successful they are at supporting their inhabitants to live good lives now, while ensuring that others can do the same in the future. It is based on a simple idea: The ultimate outcome for societies should be sustainable wellbeing for all. And the fundamental input is environmental resources. If we want one single indicator to get an overall sense of how we are doing, that indicator should be a measure of how much wellbeing is achieved per unit of environmental resources, in effect a measure of socio-ecological efficiency.

The HPI operationalises wellbeing as adjusted happy life years – life expectancy combined with self-reported wellbeing. It then divides this by a consumption-based carbon footprint. It uses the latest UN Environment Programme estimates for necessary global greenhouse gas emission reductions and defines a fair maximum level of emissions of 3.17 tonnes CO₂e per capita – ceiling for a fair consumption space.

The data released in this year’s report goes up until 2021. In that year, no country achieved sustainable wellbeing – i.e. high levels of life expectancy and self-reported wellbeing within a fair consumption space. However, some countries come closer than others, suggesting that good lives that don’t cost the Earth are within reach.

The country with the best score is Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific. It achieves a life expectancy of 70.4 years and a self-reported wellbeing score of 7.1 out of 10, all with a carbon footprint that is well below the globally fair share of 3.17 tonnes CO₂e per capita.

Learn more at the Happy Planet Index.

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