United World Infrastructure (UWI) has launched a model designed to measure and improve happiness within cities.
The Dubai-based investment, development, and management organisation, which also has an office in Washington DC, says that its proprietary Happiness and Wellbeing Index will help policy-makers to identify local and national priorities for setting development objectives.
The release of the model, which is the first of its kind to be introduced in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, coincides with the International Day of Happiness.
Vafa Valapour, principal at UWI, said: “There is growing recognition at a global level that, in addition to macroeconomic measures like employment and gross domestic product (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 prioritise policy and development decisions.”
UWI’s Happiness and Wellbeing Index measures happiness and wellbeing in nine areas: communal, social, cultural, physical, spiritual, intellectual, financial, civil, and ecological.
The model is based on a review of several international indices, including the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s (UNSDSN) World Happiness Report, Gallup Healthways’ Global Well-Being, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Better Life Index and Guidelines for Measuring Subjective Well-Being, and the Gross National Happiness of Bhutan.
“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,” said 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,” he added.
The UWI index links urban infrastructure and municipal inputs with their potential impact on happiness and wellbeing outcomes. Based on baseline happiness and wellbeing measures, the organisation advises on key policies, infrastructure and real estate development, and municipal services with the potential to improve happiness and wellbeing in targeted areas.
UWI launched its flagship development, Medini Iskandar, Malaysia in 2010.
In February 2017, the organisation unveiled its plan to offer new cities and urban centres to 15 million people by 2030.