The first conference on Gross National Happiness in Thimphu, Bhutan initiated exchanges between scholars, NGO representatives, business leaders, policy makers and independent creative thinkers globally, around the question: how can Bhutan, as a small country and considered to be poor, tame globalization and modernity towards the advancement of the integrity of its ancient culture.
Can cultural integrity grow under the pressure of forced GDP growth?
H.R.H. Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Wangchuk, the present King of Bhutan since December 2006, addressed the participants of the 1st conference in Thimphu:
'I feel that there must be some convergence among nations on the idea of what the primary objective of development and progress should be ~ something Gross National Happiness seeks to bring about.'
Since the first International Conference on Gross National Happiness in Thimphu, 'GNH' has been understood worldwide as a unique, creative response to globalization and 'GDP fundamentalism'. GNH offers inspiration to re-thinking development in all its dimensions. Therefore Re-thinking Development has been the theme of the 2nd International Conference on Gross National Happiness in Canada, June 2005.
From interaction during the follow up to the first GNH conferences, other interconnected Asian concepts presented themselves as important impulses towards transformation. Some of these concepts are: Sufficiency Economy (H.M. King Bhumipol, Thailand), Social Entrpreneurship (Muhammad Yunus, Bangla Desh) Human Security (Madame Sadako Ogata, Japan / Prof. Amartya Sen, India) and Earth Democracy (Vandada Shiva, India).
Sufficiency Economy, understood beyond its national Thai interpretation, promotes a shift towards fulfillment of the moderate needs of all citizens (or even: all sentient beings), away from undue priority adhered to benefits of those in power based on the promotion of over-consumption. H.E. Anand Panyarachun, the former Prime Minister of Thailand, described the relevance of the Sufficiency Economy philosophy for global transformation in a thought-provoking article for Thai English language newspapers the Bangkok Post and The Nation. Later the article was published in Thai and in English in the journal for Corporate Social Responsibility Business & Society.
Human Security marks a fundamental shift in world governance from 'the external right to interference' (and its drawbacks) to 'the shared responsibility to protect'. In its broadest sense Human Security is a renewed effort to respond to 'structural violence' in a comprehensive way.
The 3rd International Conference on Gross National Happiness Towards Global Transformation. WORLD VIEWS MAKE A DIFFERENCE offers an opportunity to articulate Asian world views towards transformation in a 'message to the world'.
And to exchange views with visionary thinkers and activists from all over the world.