Belgium Observes the first International Day of Happiness.
As in Bhutan, the first International Day of Happiness on Wednesday 20th March 2013 was celebrated in many parts of the European Union. In Brussels, the Belgian Centre for Fine Arts (Bozar), the United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC) and the Royal Bhutanese Embassy jointly co-hosted a special event to mark the day.
Despite the short notice within which the event was planned, the observance of the day of happiness generated much media coverage and the Bozar auditorium was filled to its capacity of 476 seats despite the entry fee of six euros per ticket. While most of the audience were ordinary Belgian citizens, there was also a good representation of the diplomatic corps, media and some who came all the way from the Netherlands, France and Germany. It was reported that several people had to be turned away due to lack of space.
The event which was held at the Bozar consisted of a screening of a documentary film ‘7 Milliards d’autres ’ (7 Billion Others) which portrayed the views of people around the world on happiness. This was followed by presentations by a group of eminent Europeans closely involved in promoting happiness – contemporary international artist Koen Van Mechelen, Writer Leo Bormans (editor of The World Book of Happiness), Belgian Senator Peter Van Rompuy and Jan-Emmanuel De Neve (lecturer at City College, London). The Speakers gave a general view of the current state of play of science concerning happiness ; relationship between happiness growth ; the Belgian perspective on where the policy-makers stand and how culture influence happiness. Ambassador Sonam Tshong talked on the Bhutanese experience and how and why we were contributing to the global conversation on happiness and the quest for a better development paradigm.
Several people expressed their happiness with what Bhutan was doing. There was clear recognition among the audience that it is due to Bhutan’s experience and our initiative that happiness has finally become a part of the global agenda on growth and development
Royal Bhutanese Embassy
Brussels, 20 March 2013.