The SDG Pyramid of Happiness

United in Diversity

Btid Island Portrait Cropped

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched in 2015 at the United Nations, are intended to be universal: 17 global objectives to eliminate poverty, improve education and health outcomes, create better jobs and tackle environmental challenges everywhere by 2030. At the same time, it is also important that the SDGs resonate within different cultures, aligned with local beliefs and traditions, to ensure the broad engagement needed to achieve the Goals. The Island of Happiness, Kura Kura Bali is one such project that is embracing the SDGs in alignment with Balinese culture.

The initiative is an eco-development project that is transforming Kura Kura, or Turtle island, located just south of Bali, and home to Serangan village, where several thousands of Hindu and Muslim Balinese continue to practice traditional customs. Soon Kura Kura Bali will also house the United in Diversity Creative Campus and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Southeast Asia (SDSN-SEA) head office, where Cherie Nursalim is the Chair. The mission of SDSDN-SEA is to help advance the achievement of the SDGs in the region.
Ms Nursalim, a Business and Sustainable Development (BSDC) Commissioner, believes that the SDGs can be viewed through the Balinese philosophy, Tri Hita Karana, or “Three Ways to Happiness,” which emphasizes harmony with people, nature, and spirit. Each of the 17 Global Goals, says Ms Nursalim, reflects one of the three elements, forming what she calls an “SDG Pyramid to Happiness.”

Sdg Pyramid Logo High Res

“The first 10 goals align with social issues, the next five goals on ecological challenges and the final goals on peace and partnership are linked to spiritual values,” says Ms Nursalim, Vice-Chairman of GITI Group. “If we can find harmonies in the social, ecological and spiritual as framed by the SDG Pyramid, I feel we would be closer to genuine happiness.” Ms Nursalim will present the idea of the SDG Pyramid and Tri Hita Karana on World Happiness Day, 20 March, at the United Nations in New York. On 21 March, United in Diversity Foundation will host a discussion on “SDG Pyramid: The Shared Value Case for Sustainable Development.”

Harmony with people

To better consider the first ten goals and social issues on the island, an education platform will be established to support enterprises, education and solutions. A value creation eco system will evolve around the campus to encourage long-term sustainable solutions for the island, its inhabitants, engaging with the wider global community. United in Diversity’s Cultural Revitalization program will nurture a creative ecosystem where local wisdom, traditions, arts and music may flourish through many generations with platforms to share their culture with the island’s guests.

Harmony with nature

The island is designed around an integrated green master plan. “Tri Hita Karana has inspired me to challenge the norms in the development of the Kura Kura Bali project,” Ms Nursalim explains. “Our team has pioneered methodologies together with partners from around the world in the greening of the Island of Happiness.”  Around 95% of the island’s population will be within a 10-minutes walk of green transportation. All buildings will be 100% green certified and public lighting will be powered by renewable energy. And conservation will be a critical theme. On the 500 hectare (ha) island, over 80 ha of Kura Kura Bali is dedicated to mangroves and 260 ha will be car-free zones.

Harmony with spirituality

Partnerships and peace are crucial goals that are linked to spiritual values. The Balinese practice spiritual balance, the project will promote the research of Happiness through wellness, mindfulness and spiritual harmony. United in Diversity Foundation will engage many stakeholders around the world to find solutions around the social, ecological and spiritual harmonies.  300 IDEAS Fellows have worked on prototypes of sustainable solutions. United in Diversity is a non-profit organization launched in Bali with leaders from diverse sectors of business, government and civil society. It is now presided by Mari Pangestu, respected former Minister of Indonesia. Over the past decade, IDEAS program is facilitated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, University of Indonesia and Tsinghua University

The first phase of the Island of Happiness Kura Kura Bali is expected to be completed by end of 2019. For more information, visit

The SDG Pyramid of Happiness also has a card game. Check out the videos on how to play at You are also welcome to upload videos of your play or share with others how to play!