Intervention by H.E. Ambassador Katalin Bogyay, Permanent Representative of Hungary, at the special event on the International Day of Happiness, 20th March 2017.
Your Excellences, Distinguished Speakers, Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
A smile is often the sign of happiness and contentment. Given the wide-ranging cultural characteristics of UN Member States, smiling is the universal language that really connects and unites us all.
What we as individuals and members of different communities embody today comes from our thoughts and ideas of yesterday, just as much as our present feelings and thoughts build the person we are becoming by tomorrow. This is the power of creation of our mind that is accompanied by human nature’s constant pursuit of happiness.
I am honoured to speak at this special event for the International Day of Happiness, which came into life through recognition by the UN Member States that happiness should be given greater priority.
The General Assembly resolutions of 2011 and 2012 recognized happiness as a fundamental human goal and called for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples. Sustainable development and peace are based not only on inclusivity, growth and harmony with nature, but first and foremost on human wellbeing.
History shows that the UN was born out of reality as a response by humanity to the horror and threat of war as well as the quest for lasting peace.
Especially today, when our world is confronted with numerous heavy conflicts, mutual understanding, compassion and common thinking should give hope to non violent approaches and the ultimate objective of achieving peace.
Lasting peace however cannot be reached without development. The Agenda 2030 draws up the vision of a world free of poverty, hunger, disease and want, where all life can thrive. A world free of fear and violence. A place of universal literacy, equitable and universal access to quality education, health care and social protection, where physical, mental and social well-being are assured.
Hungary welcomes that ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages has been anchored in Goal 3 of the new Agenda, with a special focus on mental health.
With the SDGs, all Member States of the UN committed themselves to the universal respect for human dignity and human rights, good governance, rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination. There is a long way to go to have this ambitious vision implemented, which will require partnership by all. We should combine this universal outset for happiness with our own individual aspirations. Let me share some personal remarks in this respect.
Of course happiness means different things to people from different cultures. But let’s remember that societies have tremendous indigenous knowledge and vast cultural resources to guide them to peaceful coexistence. Exchanging views and experience implies learning from each other, while adopting various elements of others’ cultures. Traditions, artistic expressions, sites of cultural heritage and daily habits, such as the demonstration of national or regional specificities in gastronomy are factors that unite mankind. Understanding the indigenous forces and processes that promote tolerance, mutual acceptance and cooperation is the first step towards learning how to focus on positive factors that bring us closer to each other. This is especially relevant in cases where conflict had broken cooperation and we find signs of division and hatred.
With the new Agenda we have a golden opportunity and high hopes to put our world on a sustainable path, building a people and planet centred future for prosperity and general well-being for the generations to come.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am convinced that we cannot achieve sustainability in the long run, if we do not lift cultural know-how as the fourth pillar of development, besides economic prosperity, social progress and environmental protection. The underlying reason is that only dynamics where people are both drivers and recipients of development, where interests of future generations are safeguarded can be sustainable. That needs involvement and ownership of individuals, communities and all humanity.
Even if happiness is a complex concept, which is hard to define, and even harder to measure, it is important to better capture the importance of happiness and well-being in development through SDG indicators with a view to guiding public policies.
As the Permanent Representative of Hungary in the UN, I promote my country’s engagement in social and economic development, particularly through gender equality in education, employment, growth and trade, with a special focus on the role of women in water resources management and various other important areas of preventive diplomacy. Based on my experience from multilateral and cultural diplomacy, I have seen that women are outstanding bridge builders in all areas from prevention to cure. Bridges that contribute to the betterment of our world.
Happiness is gratitude for what we already have in life and appreciation of what comes on top, such as beauty, human values and features, love and friendship. It is a constant state of curiosity, posing challenges and calling for actions, it’s both a state of mind and an aim we can create by ourselves and not just wait for.
I invite you all to pursue your dreams, be and stay an optimist and act as activist, because only together we can achieve cultural shifts that bring hope for those who suffer from conflict and make peace lasting through development that is truly inclusive.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for your kind attention!