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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His Excellency John Ralston Saul, husband of Canada's Governor — and good friend of Sulak Sivaraksa, Thai Human Rights activist who stayed in Canada in the 1980s during part of his exile — in his speech recognized both the tragic fate in history, and the important role to play by the indigenous peoples towards Canada's future. Humanity will have to understand again animism, the sacred life forces in nature, in order to ground with adequate depth their urgently needed common commitment towards environmental rehabilitation.

In addition to a fiery encounter between media people including John de Graaf, producer of Affluenza, and Bhutanese filmmaker Tshewang Dendup, the whole conference through a documentary film festival was presented in the evenings, concurrently with artistic performances. The most controversial film undoubtedly was The Corporation including forty interviews with corporate insiders and critics like: Ray Anderson (one of the speakers at the conference), Milton Friedman, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, cineast Michael Moore and Vandana Shiva.

Crucial for the mood and atmosphere of the conference was the full participation of teenagers and students. They did not just talk but used every nerve and muscle to build their houses with straw and other local natural materials.

After this dazzling festival of good ideas and practices, the final (and optional) day consisted of a hearing to advise and support the Bhutanese delegation on the further development of Gross National Happiness. Sombat Somphone from Laos, who once back in his country received the Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, proposed that countries in the Mekong sub-region should exchange ideas with the people of Bhutan. The Mekong river springs in the Himalayas, the Tibetan plateau and follows its course through Southern China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The cultural epicenter of the Mekong subregion is Wat Angkor in Cambodia.

CRS Journal (Thailand) September Page 18
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