The Second Annual Conference on Gross National Happiness The Second International Conference on Gross National Happiness
Local Pathways to Global Wellbeing
St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada
June 20 to June 24, 2005
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September, 2005 CSR Journal Business & Society, Thailand — SVN (Asia)

Gross National Happiness and Public Policy Development

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This strategic arrangement surprising corresponds to the approach of 'threefolding' as presented at the second SVN Asia conference in Singapore by Nicanor Perlas, Right Livelihood recipient from the Philippines. In Perlas' visionary understanding of social dynamics he distinguishes three domains: Culture is the domain of civil society; governance and legislation of governments; and the economic sector is the domain of the business community in its full diversity. At present the three factors are completely out of balance. However, the common interest to managing nature sustainably creates tri-sector cooperation as in the UN Global Compact where business, inter-governmental agencies, and NGO's work together for sustainable development and for the realization of the Millennium Development Goals.

It is amazing that the structure of the Four Pillars is offered as a healing strategy to a world struggling with globalization, by the government of Bhutan, Bhutan being one of the poorest and least developed countries of the world if measured according to official, mainstream criteria! The conference in Canada offered an optimistic signal that globalization could gradually crystalize in a process of consensus towards a cooperative pattern based on common understanding of three sustaining a fourth, autonomous domains of interaction. This common understanding of the process of globalization will only work out if based on groundwork at the community level. The Corporate Social Responsibility movement has the potential to become a significant force towards Sustainable and Equitable Economic Development. If it links up with other contributors in this field and if it engages with the holistic perspective including all sectors.

The diversity of the Economic Development sector was represented by remarkable persons: Ela Bhatt, Founder of the Self-Employed Women's Association, India (and Right Livelihood Awardee); Father Francisco VanderHoff from Mexico and pioneer of Fair Trade; Ray Anderson, Founder and Chairman of Interface Inc., one of the largest interior furnishing and carpet corporations of the USA; Farouk Jiwa, young social entrepreneur, honey producer from Kenya, Africa; Vicki Robin, author of Your Money or Your Life (bestseller translated into Thai by Komool Foundation); Yagya Ghale of the centre of Micro Finance, Nepal, and many others. Thailand was represented by participant Wallapa Kuntiranont of Suan Nguen Mee Ma Co., Ltd. She displayed handwoven organic cotton shawls from Nan province, Northern Thailand.

Amazingly instructive (and most enjoyable) were the humorous and scientific presentations of economists and researchers on well-being indicators including John Helliwell, author of the prestigious Canadian public policy award winning book Globalization and Well-Being; and Ron Colman, the orgaizer of the conference. Work towards a Gross National Happiness index for policy development is proceeding but nobody has the illusion that this is a challenge to be quickly fixed.

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CRS Journal (Thailand) September Page 15
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