GNH MOVEMENT: towards a new ‘PARADIGM FOR CHANGE’?
Series of 6 bi-monthly workshops August 2008 – July 2009;
and follow-up until 2010
In November 2007 the Third International Conference on Gross National Happiness (‘GNH3’) was organized in Thailand in partnership with the Centre for Bhutan Studies and a network of local and international partners. Reports and papers are available on www.gnh-movement.org
The first and second GNH conferences were held respectively in Thimphu, Bhutan (2004) and Nova Scotia, Canada (2005). ‘GNH3’ was preceded in 2006 by a GNH conference with partners from the Mekong region (China: Tibet/Yunnan, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam) in 2006.
From the GNH3 conference in Nongkhai and Bangkok, 22-28 November 2007, a diversity of follow-up initiatives emerged, together constituting a ‘GNH movement’. This ‘movement’ resonates and partially overlaps with existing streams of social innovation. In particular the ‘GNH movement’ responds to the so called ‘Global GDP Debate’: increasing criticism challenging Gross Domestic Product as the major yardstick for ‘economic growth’ and ‘progress’.
Stakeholders of the ‘GNH movement’ are active in initiatives to improve the quality of life at local (Nonkhai Province, Thailand), national (National Health Assembly) and regional (Mekong region and ASEAN) levels; while vivid interest has been shown from the business community: in particular on how the ICT sector can respond to ‘beyond GDP’ social innovation.
What follows here is a project proposal to the Thailand Research Fund and co-sponsors, initiated by the organizer of the GNH3 conference Suan Nguen Mee Ma, a social enterprise established by the Sathirakoses Nagapradipa Foundation based in Bangkok.
Consultations with the Thailand Research Fund (TRF), Dr. Silaporn Buasai, led to the present plan to organize a series of 6 workshop-meetings over a period of one year as a preparatory stage towards the formulation of a longer term ‘action research’ programme. The aim of the one year preparatory project would be to draft outlines of a synthesis among a diversity of ‘transformative social movements’ as a starting point for a research and capacity building programme. A programme of concrete pilot actions inducing change, supporting research, and policy recommendations from the ‘Gross National Happiness movement’ perspective is intended to emerge from the initial series of 6 workshops.
The preparatory project would be facilitated – partially – by a development grant under the TRF Sufficiency Economy programme chaired by Dr. Apichai Puntasen. In principle this grant is limited to domestic expenses.
The programme is proposed to be complemented by the second phase of the GNH project supported by Thai Health Promotion Foundation/TGLIP (the first phase included TGLIP support for the GNH3 conference in 2007), in particular for the international component. This international dimension of the programme is proposed as a two-year project from August 2008 – July 2010.
Aim and Objectives
A major characteristic of the GNH3 conference was the common effort to make it a platform for ‘multi-stakeholder’ dialogue and cooperation. Within the limitations of the one week conference this remained an explorative exercise. Future change will need dialogue between 1. governments, 2. civil society (including community organizations, NGO’s, Youth, and spiritual leaders) and 3. the business sector, with the support of academics and the media. ‘Multi-stakeholder’ dialogue and cooperation will be an important constituting element of the future action-research programme.
Assumption: a new paradigm for innovative leadership addresses consensus building in a multi-stakeholder context.