BHUTAN The vision of Gross National Happiness was born in Bhutan and the government, researchers and civil society representatives are all committed since the very beginning to the implementation of policies and actions coherent with the idea. The Centre for Bhutan Studies has been a pioneer in researching and promoting awareness of GNH at every level of the Bhutanese society, and its focus on the young population of the country is growing every day, with activities and lectures in all the schools and colleges and a theoretic and practical support to spontaneous youth GNH initiatives at the local level. In this sense, several youth clubs and volunteers associations are currently work to give form through concrete actions from a national Clean Up campaign to tree plantation, blood donation campaigns and a radio network to support to poor population, especially in rural areas to the GNH priorities in the 9 domains identified by the Centre for Bhutan Studies:
1- Psychological Wellbeing
3- Time Use and Balance
5- Cultural Diversity and Resilience
6- Good Governance
7- Community Vitality
8- Ecological Diversity and Resilience
9- Living Standards
Bhutan hosted the 1st International Conference on Gross National Happiness and the Centre for Bhutan Studies is the co-organizer of this event. Young Bhutanese delegates took part in all the preparatory meetings in order to present the concept of Gross National Happiness and better coordinate the activities and ideas coming from the Mekong Youth with the efforts done by the government and civil society in Bhutan and elsewhere in the world.
CANADA Host of the 2nd International Conference on GNH in 2005, the Genuine Progress Index Atlantic lead the preparation of a new Youth group of Canadians to join the activities in Thailand. Actively providing important feedback on the strengths and defaults of the Youth Program held during the last conference, GPI also contributes to the construction of a detailed and effective project by bringing innovative ideas on three main aspects of GNH. Together with Ryerson University, the International Resilience Project, Dalhousie University, and with the support of the Canadian International Development Agency, the young Canadian delegates will in fact propose to the Youth Program and Forum activities concerning:
1- A participative research on Child and Youth Well-Being Index, with a survey and several interviews with the local communities and the Conference participants on GNH and Youth.
2- A video and radio project, filming video diaries and creating radio discussions on GNH and Youth
3- Storytelling, traditional knowledge and voluntary actions (with the M'ikmaq indigenous youth and elders, the Acadian-French youth and the Peer Spirit movement)
CAMBODIA After thee successful participation of two young Cambodian delegates in the first rotation preparatory meeting in Laos, nine youth and non governmental organizations in Cambodia joined their efforts to raise awareness and start GNH discussions and activities in the country, with the creation of a Cambodian Sokhadomromanea Team - Sokhadomromanea being the Cambodian cultural equivalent of Gross National Happiness. The countrys recent history and political situation brought the Cambodian Youth NGOs together under the common challenges of Youth Participation in Social Change, with the four specific topics of:
1- Youth and Unemployment
2- Youth Participation in Community Development
3- Youth and Peace-building
4- Youth and Education.
Cambodia hosted the 2nd rotation preparatory meeting in Phnom Penh on 20th -24th July 2007, with exposure trips in two rural and urban communities taking place on 22nd and 24th of July.
LAOS Laos hosted the 1st rotation preparatory meeting in Vientiane on 22nd 26th March 2007, with study visits to alternative education and voluntary service activities taking place on the 24th. Laos Youth will play a very important role during the Conference, in particular during the first part in Nongkhai when the symbolic union of the Mekong countries around the water of the river Kong will become even more significant through the exchanges between the Laos youth, the Thai youth especially the local participants form Nongkhai region and the international young delegates. The key issues for the GNH Youth in the country are related to:
1- Alternative education
2- Local wisdom and eco-villages projects
3- Project based learning activities
4- Youth networking on cross-cutting issues (i.e. HIV prevention)
BURMA NGOs inside Burma were involved with the GNH movement since the beginning, by attending as guest speakers, participants of the forum and also present the theme of GNH within the country, through limited publishing media under the government control.
The Spirit in Education Movement has been working in Burma since 1996, with the focus on capacity building for the local people to set up civil society as well as to promote alternative ideas in development on a grassroots level.
Youth organizations must be seen very much as a target for sustainable community development toward GNH. SEM introduced youth organizations from Burma to attend the GNH conference and two delegates already took part in the 3rd preparatory meeting in Vietnam.
THAILAND GNH movement in Thailand has been very active since the first GNH Mekong meeting in August 2006, with a great involvement of youth NGOs and groups regularly gathering participants from the 4 macro-regions of the country. Coordinated by the Thai Volunteer Service Foundation, the young representatives shared and built over the meetings a common understanding and awareness of GNH, with the double objective of reaching a balanced happiness and supporting the society. The key domains and correspondent fields of action were identified in the spheres of
- Traditional knowledge
- Commitment to benefit the society
Alternative education is considered as the main tool for social transformation, under the three fundamental topics of local wisdom, volunteerism and youth research.
VIETNAM The GNH Youth movement in Vietnam is lead by VietDHRRA (Vietnam Partnership for Rural Human Resource Development) and CAEV (Center of Agricultural Extension Volunteers), and the focus of the preparatory activities has been on education and human resources development in rural areas, under the key word Renovation A part from providing an important material support to the population, young Vietnamese volunteers conducted trainings based on a participative field research on happiness perception, which was conducted in 14 local communities around the country, with a great majority of them being composed of cultural minorities. Three methods were used to identify the issues and conduct relevant actions: discussions and interviews with the full involvement of the farmers; trainings on the topic chosen by the local communities and with the use of local knowledge and resources; pilot demonstrations and actions to illustrate the practical impact and feasibility of the innovations and their respect of traditional values (i.e. in organic rice production). Ten domains of happiness were identified in the process:
1- Food Security
2- Knowledge - work and life skills
3- Family Happiness and Gender equality
4- Relationships among community
5- Clean Environment
7- Economic welfare
8- Preservation of traditional culture
9- All children going to school - education
10- Peaceful atmosphere absence of conflict
Vietnam hosted the 3rd rotation preparatory meeting on 19th - 22nd September 2007, with a study trip in the Northern region taking place from 14th to 18th September.