GNH Policy & Project Screening Tools

The 2008 GNH Index did not stand alone. Rather, a set of project and policy screening tools were developed to complement and specify it for different purposes.

GNH indicators serve as evaluative tools to track developmental progress over time.  GNH indicators as targets display a common sense of purpose, offering us direction to the programmes and policies which are coherent with the values of GNH. However, we need other tools to maneuver towards GNH targets in order to know whether we are actually advancing in the right direction. For instance, we may have very good indicators but unless the projects and polices are checked and ensured that they are pro GNH: it would be difficult to translate the principles of GNH to practice. Therefore, it is very important to have externally measurable pro-GNH screening tools.

Centre for Bhutan Studies has come up with a simple GNH screening tool. The main objective of this tool is to systematically assess impacts of any policy and project on GNH, thereby simultaneously selecting GNH enhancing policies and projects and rejecting projects and policies that adversely affect key determinants of GNH.

I. Methodology

The GNH screening tools can be applied in two phases, at project level and policy level. Generally, it consists of three types:

1.  For all ministries and sectors (e.g. good governance)

  1. For respective ministries (e.g. education, health)
  2. For individual sectors (e.g. youth, employment)

However, the calculations are the same for all the three forms of screening tools.

I. Screening question

Each screening question has 4-pointer scale ranging from 1 to 4. This 4- pointer scale is ranked from the most negative to the most positive score. For the given example below, 1 denotes a negative score, 2 uncertain, 3 is a neutral score and 4 denotes a positive score.


CBS has developed such screening questions covering nine domains of GNH. So, all policies and projects have to pass through these questions in order to test their applicability in enhancing the values of GNH.

II. Calculation

Lets consider for example: policy A is being tested on its impacts on stress levels, culture and physical exercise. Therefore in this example, policy A will be subjected to GNH screening tool containing only three screening questions; stress, culture and physical exercise.

Positive score = 4 X Number of screening questions

= 4 X 3 = 12

Neutral score   = 3 X Number of screening questions

= 3 X 3 = 9

Policy A has to score at least 9 which is the average neutral score to be accepted. If it scores below 9, then it calls for either review or rejection of the policy.


In the current example, policy A scores 4 in stress, 3 in culture and physical exercise. The combined score is 4+3+3 = 10. Since, the combined score is above 9 (neutral score) we accept policy A and conclude that it has no negative impacts on culture, physical exercises and that it does not increase stress levels.

Similarly, various policies and projects can be tested with respect to all the key issues of GNH under domains of health, psychological wellbeing, ecology, community vitality etc.

III. Scoring

A heterogeneous group comprising of qualified experts and professionals from different occupational background would be assessing the GNH screening tools. As mentioned earlier, the tools could be applied at both project and policy level. Some of the general characteristics of the heterogeneous group are as follows;

1) Should have sound knowledge of the subject matter on which the screening questions are based

2) Must be recognized as a reliable source of skill or technique whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly is accorded by their peers and public

3) Involved as regulatory body or as a service user

The GNH screening tool forces project sectors to consider GNH dimensions in project formulation process. As the screening tools require all policies and projects to be subjected in terms of other dimensions of life (eg. Culture, community vitality etc.), it ensures a holistic approach to project development. It also acknowledges unknown potential effects and penalizes the project. Furthermore, as the scoring is done by a heterogeneous group, it provides diverse occupational backgrounds to work towards a consensus about project impacts.

A PowerPoint presentation file on these tools can be viewed here:

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Policy Screening Tools

Project Screening Tools