2009 was one of those years most of us would like to forget. It was a turbulent affair marked by a whopper of a global economic crisis, leaving many citizens of Planet Earth disgruntled, upset, uneasy and basically unhappy.
Despite the gloom and doom, the Legatum Institute, an organization whose stated mission is to “research and advocate an expansive understanding of global prosperity” published its third Legatum Prosperity Index, a global survey of wealth and happiness.
This in-depth analysis of prosperity makes for an interesting read (for a peek, visit www.prosperity.com), especially for those of us who call Switzerland home. In the Institute’s ongoing investigation into what constitutes wealthy and happy societies, its definition of prosperity includes both material wealth as well as quality of life. The index ranks Switzerland second worldwide, which would lead one to the conclusion that despite recurring pangs of homesickness some our readers may feel, the grass ain’t necessarily greener over thar.
These findings seem to reflect those found in Deloitte’s recent study, The Switzerland Satisfaction Survey: Multinationals in the world’s most competitive economy, conducted late last year. According to the international accounting and consulting firm’s analysis, in the midst of not only an unnerving international backdrop but also a particularly difficult one for the country itself (read: the inclusion of Switzerland on the OECD’s “grey list”, the handing over of account holder’s names by the UBS to US tax authorities and a couple of unfortunate Swiss businessmen held as political hostages in Libya), foreign multinationals with a significant presence in Switzerland continue to feel quite happy to be here.
This corner of the world has managed to successfully navigate – at least for the time being – a global sea of constant change and uncertainty. And some of this upheaval still echoed in through the mountain tops surrounding Davos during the 40th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum. As the international financial systems are being rescued by incoming investment from China and the Far East, and emerging economies are recovering speedily from the crisis, yours truly heard much talk of a changing economic order.
But change was not necessarily a source of uncertainty everywhere in Davos. It was Hilde Schwab’s ebullient activity during the meeting that amazed me. As co-founder and president of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship (and spouse of the WEF’s founder), she is on the lookout for positive change on an ongoing basis. Under her leadership, the Foundation painstakingly seeks to identify those social entrepreneurs throughout the world who apply practical, innovative and sustainable solutions on a large scale to solve not only social problems in general but, more specifically, those that affect the marginalized and the poor.
Chatting with her recently brought back to mind one of JFK’s lesser heard quotes: “One person can make a difference and every person should try.” And try Hilde Schwab does, as you too will no doubt concur while perusing our lead article.