Third International Conference on Gross National Happiness

Third International Conference on Gross National Happiness

(คำกล่าวปิดงาน “Third International Conference on Gross National Happiness ” จัดโดย มูลนิธิเสถียรโกเศศ เมื่อวันที่ 28 พฤศจิกายน 2550 ณ หอประชุมใหญ่ จุฬาลงกรณ์มหาวิทยาลัย)

Closing Remarks

by H.E. Paiboon Wattanasiritham

Deputy Prime Minister

and Minister of Social Development and Human Security

at the Closing Ceremony of the

Third International Conference on Gross National Happiness

Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok,

28 November 2007

Dear Friends,

The Third International Conference on Gross National Happiness is now coming to an end.

I have been asked to make a few closing remarks and I will try to do so briefly.

To start with I would like to go back to the First Conference on Gross National Happiness in Thimphu, from where it all originated. I would like to remind you of the Declaration that was adopted at that conference, on February 21, 2004.

The Declaration concludes as follows:

“As a matter of individual and collective human responsibility,” we pledge “to advocate actively and fully the goal of genuine happiness as the cornerstone of national policy everywhere in the world, to be fully socially engaged, and to advocate policies and measures that uphold the great objective of happiness for all”.

I think this conclusion still stands and that, at the end of this Third conference, we all agree by consensus to re-confirm this commitment with our full strength.

Let me now try to give you some observations. I have not participated in the whole conference but based on the reports of the GNH team I personally come to the following conclusions.

· I would like to start with the sector I happen to be in at present, i.e., the government sector, as the first point. In this sector, the cooperation between governments has been strengthened, not only between Thailand and Bhutan but also from Mekong region countries such as Laos and Vietnam. In addition, important support has been given from intergovernmental bodies like UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF and ASEAN. As for Thailand, it is not only the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security that is significantly involved, but a number of other government bodies including the National Economic and Social Development Board, the National Health Commission, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, and so on, also contribute to the Conference. Meanwhile Bhutan is represented by a very strong and diverse delegation, including the Chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission, for example.

· The second point. A remarkable Alliance of NGO’s played a crucial role. Such organizations as the Sathirakoses Nagapradipa Foundation; the SEM and Ashram Wongsanit; the Thai Volunteer Service; the Social Management College; and the NGO Coordinating Committee on Development of the North-East; all brought in their networks and in particular reached out to two important target groups: community leaders and youth.

· The third point. The Youth network not only extended to the Mekong region, in particular Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam; but it also found partners in Canada, New Zealand and in Bhutan itself.

· Point number 4. For the Community leaders it has been significant and encouraging that the Thailand Green Fair was organized in conjunction with the Conference here in Chulalongkorn University in order to create a meeting point for organic farmers and urban consumers and initiated an important new connection with the Ecovillages network .

· Point number 5. For the Business sector interesting contacts have been established in the Information and Communication Technology field in order to explore new, more human-based, ways to tackle the so called ‘Digital Divide’ between rich and poor countries, thus future cooperation may also include the media sector .

· Point number 6. New Opportunities for Social ventures, ‘Slow and Fair Trade’, and Social entrepreneurs have been discussed; as well as the importance of Volunteerism. I hope that Suan Nguen Mee Ma Co., Ltd, a typical small-scale social enterprise and the organizer of this conference, will continue acting as a catalyst for new partnerships in this important field of shaping a new role in society for the business sector.

· Point number 7. In terms of Research, the Center for Bhutan Studies is anticipated to continue its leadership role for research from the developing countries’ perspectives; interacting with a stable International partnership including GPI Atlantic (Canada), the New Economics Foundation (U.K.), the East-West Center in Hawaii, and Osaka University in Japan.

· The last point of my observations is point number 8. And that is: the Research activities have, in general, two components. The first component is research on the development and application of well-being and happiness indicators; and the second component is research on paradigms underlying ‘development’ or ‘progress’. In Thailand I expect that this research will be by at least four players: the Social Research Institute (CUSRI), and the Center for Ethics of Science and Technology, both at Chulalongkorn University; the Center for Contemplative Education at Mahidol University; and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, particularly in the field of applied research.

Dear Friends,

The Third International Conference on Gross National Happiness has been a remarkable platform for exchanges between a stimulating diversity of spiritual leaders, initiated by an extraordinary gathering in Wat Hin Mak Peng ( วัดหินหมากเป้ง) in Nongkhai Province.

In addition, the Conference has demonstrated that art and culture, including the art of cooking and story-telling, are essential for building communication in a holistic perspective.

Tomorrow, at the meeting hosted by the Center for Bhutan Studies, you will have an opportunity to exchange your own observations and to make concrete arrangements for cooperation towards the future.

Now, to conclude our meeting, I would like to make two final points that I think should constructively add to the quintessence of the Third International Conference on Gross National Happiness.

· The first point is : Ultimate Happiness is Peace.

· And the second point is: We need to work and operationalize from Local to National and Global as well as from Global to National and Local.

Thank you very much.

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