Jakarta, 27-28 April, 2019. For the second year in a row, the SDG Happiness Festival was hosted in Jakarta with support from the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), SDSN Southeast Asia, Project Semesta, and United in Diversity (UID). The festival is inspired by the SDG Pyramid to Happiness, an initiative led by the UID which frames the 17 SDGs according to the three pathways to happiness rooted in Balinese belief, Tri Hita Karana. This traditional philosophy emphasizes harmony of people with each other (SDGs 1-10), harmony of people with nature (SDGs 11-15), and harmony of people with their spirituality (SDGs 16-17). The UID Foundation believes in bridging these pathways — the social, ecological and spiritual — in order to achieve both public happiness and the SDGs. Gradually, material wealth is losing its significance as health and wellbeing are recognized as important factors in sustainable development.

The Happiness Festival is designed to reach all levels of society and stakeholders to collaborate and take concrete actions to learn about, and realize the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’, to overcome the ‘disharmony’ of social, ecological, and spiritual imbalances taking place in Indonesia and around the world. Globally, the world is experiencing a divorce from harmony along these three pillars in the following ways:

  • Ecological divide – Ecological footprint of humans globally has reached 1.71 times the capacity of the earth.
  • Social divide – Those in the top 1% have collective wealth greater than 90% of others, even though 2.5 billion people live below the poverty line and must survive with $ 2 per day.
  • Spiritual divide – Disconnecting the relationship between man and himself and his greatest challenge in the future. Depression now spreads rampantly around the world and every 40 seconds a person commits suicide.

This year the festival invited over 20,000 Indonesians to participate in two days of celebration. The festival featured public workshops on sustainability, an array of vendors practicing new business models around sustainability, and a series of musical performances to showcase the richness of Indonesian culture. The festival served as a forum to connect the government, sustainable development practitioners, and the general public to the pressing development challenges facing Indonesia today and the rapidly growing innovative solutions. The SDSN Southeast Asia team hopes that the SDG Pyramid Framework and the Happiness Festival model can be replicated in other regions around the world in a global effort to help support local sustainable development solution providers in the grassroots implementation of the SDGs.

Based on the 2019 World Happiness Report, Indonesia is ranked 92 out of a total of 156 countries. As Indonesia prepares to submit its second application to the United Nations Voluntary National Review process, the efforts sustained by the numerous local and international agencies working to protect the future of Indonesia and the world at large can serve as an example for us to follow worldwide. The festival was an excellent demonstration of the public interest and will to understand and progress on the SDGs.