- Proprietary index to help identify local and national priorities for setting development objectives
- Model is the First of its Kind in the Middle East and North Africa
Dubai, UAE, March 19, 2017: To commemorate International Day of Happiness, United World Infrastructure (UWI), the Dubai- and Washington, DC-based firm, has today launched its new advisory offering that will allow it to work with cities across the Middle East and the world to measure and improve the happiness of residents. Including its proprietary ‘Happiness and Wellbeing Index' the offering will empower city developers and municipalities with the information required to measurably improve the experience of its citizens and residents through infrastructure focused policies and development.
UWI has significant experience in the conceptualization, design, investment, development and management of next generation urban environments, having delivered USD 600 million of infrastructure projects and developed the city of Medini in Malaysia, a 2300-acre city adjacent to Singapore. UWI's Happiness and Wellbeing Index measures happiness and wellbeing across nine domains, and is based on a review of several international indices including the World Happiness Report (UNSDSN), Global Well-Being (Gallup Healthways), the Better Life Index (OECD), Gross National Happiness of Bhutan and Guidelines for Measuring Subjective Well-Being (OECD).
“There is growing recognition at a global level that, in addition to macro-economic measures like employment and GDP, wellbeing and happiness are critical factors when considering the success of a city. Over the course of 18 months, we have been developing robust methods to measure happiness and wellbeing which we can use to inform and prioritize policy and development decisions,” said Vafa Valapour, Principal at UWI.
“We believe cities around the world can take proactive steps to advance greater happiness and life satisfaction through the adoption of tailored policies, investment in key infrastructure, and introduction of relevant services. Including measures of happiness and wellbeing that help align resident and government objectives,” continued Valapour. “Happier cities drive more socially, environmentally and economically sustainable cities. It is in everyone's best interest to consider happiness when making decisions about the future of the city.”
Unique to UWI's methodology, is the linkage between urban infrastructure and municipal inputs with their potential impact on happiness and wellbeing outcomes. Based on baseline happiness and wellbeing measures, UWI advises on key policies, infrastructure and real estate development, and municipal services which could improve happiness and wellbeing in targeted areas.
“We saw that there was a rising interest in measuring happiness and wellbeing within communities, but that the energy plateaued once the data was gathered,” said Aubrilyn Reeder, Senior Manager at UWI. “We decided to apply our own expertise in developing cities to find ways in which this data could be used to make better decisions for city residents. This way the data is a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.”
UWI's multidimensional index includes an individual's self-reported measure of overall satisfaction with life and supporting measures of happiness and wellbeing across nine key domains. Those domains are:
I. Communal happiness and wellbeing – E.g. Social cohesion, commitment, and connection within one's community
II. Social happiness and wellbeing – E.g. Meaningful connections and interactions with family and friends
III. Cultural happiness and wellbeing – E.g. Presence and accessibility of experiences with the traditions and customs or the region and one's home country
IV. Physical and mental happiness and wellbeing – E.g. Current physical and mental health and behaviors enabling ongoing health
V. Spiritual happiness and wellbeing – E.g. Personal reflection and religious practices
VI. Intellectual happiness and wellbeing – E.g. Alignment of personal life goals, sense of purpose, and meaningful employment
VII. Financial happiness and wellbeing – E.g. Ability to support oneself, family, and pay for the life one wants to live
VIII. Civil happiness and wellbeing – E.g. Trust in governments, institutions, rule of law, and access to efficient and affordable municipal services
IX. Ecological happiness and wellbeing – E.g. Diversity, cleanliness, and health of the natural environment
Each domain includes both self-reported subjective measures, which reflect an individual's personal feelings and experiences, as well as objective measures of quality of life which can align with improved satisfaction and happiness. The index can be applied at the city-level or at an organizational level.
“We believe happiness is a metric that distinguishes the world's most successful cities said Valapour. “With the expected addition of 2.4 billion more people living in cities over the next generation, we know that local governments around the world are racing to provide urban environments to meet resident needs.
We see this as an opportunity to create next generation cities and improve happiness worldwide.”