7th International Conference on Gross National Happiness (GNH) of Business

7-9 November 2017, Thimphu, Bhutan

The framework of TOA participation in the conference was longstanding collaboration between the Centre for Bhutan Studies & GNH and the School for Wellbeing Studies and Research. Towards Organic Asia (TOA) is an offspring of the School for Wellbeing.

In the conference remarkably titled GNH of Business, the TOA delegation articulated the challenges stakeholders,including the business sector, face to make food systems genuinely sustainable.A full paper titled Towards Organic Asia: A Food System Approach to Sustainable Development. Business for the Common Good had been submitted and Wallapa made an oral presentation on the subject in the plenary session.The delegation consisted of Witoon Lianchamroom, Founder and Director of BioThai; Victor Karunan, formerly UNICEF (New York and Malaysia), at present lecturer Development Studies at Chulalongkorn University and Thammasat University; Wallapa and Hans van Willenswaard, respectively TOA Mindful Markets movement coordinator and TOA Advisor. The paper and presentation argued that if GNH will be applied to the business sector, which is an interesting perspective, it should not only be as an index to measure the social and cultural performance of companies (which include the formal as well as informal sector like farming) but it should contribute to transformation of the economic system in its capacity as a “new development paradigm”. Reference was made to the “responsibilities of corporations for children’s  rights” upheld by UNICEF and the growing percentage of obesity among children caused by consumption of industrially over-processed food; as well as the growing grip of corporations on seed breeding as signaled by BioThai. According to the IPES-Food & Future of Food Report titled Unravelling the Food-Health Nexus edited by former UN Special Reporter on the right to food Olivier de Schutter (2017),damages caused by our present food systems amount to billions of dollars worldwide.

The delegation made visits to the Vice Chancellor of the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) and TOA EC member Dr. Sonam Tashi at College of Natural Resources (CNR), Lobesa, as well as to Toktoka organic farm and farmers’ markets. Dasho Karma Ura, President of CBS & GNH,suggested that a monograph based on the presentation of Wallapa should be published in Bhutan.

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