Established by United Nations General Assembly the International Day of Happiness is celebrated on the 20th of March. This year’s celebration of happiness Institute for Environmental Solutions spent together with representatives of Happiness Research Institute from Denmark.
The meeting was held to discuss the current situation and future perspectives of well-being, happiness and life satisfaction in Latvia and other Baltic States. It was stressed that quality of local living environment has a direct impact of health and well-being. It is a source of satisfaction, improves mental well-being, allows people to recover from the stress and to perform physical activity. Also, the economies rely not only on healthy and productive workers but also on natural resources such as water, timber, fisheries, plants and crops. Therefore, IES’s remote sensing data and experience of different ecosystem modelling and environment surveys could benefit the planning to improve the status of well-being and life satisfaction.
In the last years, well-being and happiness have become an important issue. International organisations and national governments also have stressed the importance of well-being and happiness for economic productivity, social stability and government efficiency. Unfortunately, research studies based on quantitative aspects point out the devastating effects of overworking; sleep deprivation, extreme consumerism, poor public services, long commuting, lack of material security, unforeseeable risks on quality of life etc.
The data of European Commission Eurostat showing the lower life satisfaction rate in Baltic States comparing to other European countries. It is strongly related to the complicated historical background they have. During the last 25 years Baltic states have gone through tremendous changes: regained independence from USSR (1990-1991), drastic market-driven economic reforms (1990’s), accession to European Union (2004), rapid economic growth followed by one of the most brutal recessions (2008-2009) and economic growth again. The changes have nurtured uncertainty and fear toward the future.
The Happiness Research Institute stresses that there is a pressing need for studying the impact of these demographic, economic and political changes on the quality of life in the Baltic States. As well as, it is necessary to discuss the results of such studies, produce policy recommendations and stimulate local initiatives that aim at increasing well-being.