Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What’s happening at the UN this afternoon?

It is late in the afternoon for a conference, but still many people are here. The Prime Minister opens with a moment of silence then a gentle joke about sleepiness. Each group met to make commitments. The Prime Minister asks for thoughts and ideas – but only processed thoughts meaning they come via the group leader or other person appointed – within 10 days, so by April 14. These thoughts are to be finalized by the second week of May and this report will be submitted to the Secretary General with copies to all. The Prime Minister will forward the 12 policy recommendations to each head of state in the world, even calling some on the phone.

The reports:

Expert Group
The scientists and academics decided to focused on formation of a commission and what its goals would be. Perhaps it would be called the Global Wellbeing and Happiness commission. It would facilitates this great transition to a new economic paradigm where happiness and well-being are the focus. The commission would produce documents, recommend proposals for action, employ the new communications technologies and take action to make this activity more broadly participatory. Some models mentioned were the New Iceland Constitution in which participatory democracy is embedded; Wiki-style peer reviewed encyclopedia such as Encyclopedia of Earth in which there is also attribution, funding through

Communications Group
This group decided to gather information and create a space on the website with calendar, blogging, subscription only, create materials and other resources. They are writing a press release to get it out in at least 12 languages and release that this evening. They are putting together a global press release. For internal communication, they are creating a network so there is a way to keep in touch. They are putting together a package for Rio +20 based on the findings of the expert group. They are putting together a global press release.

Civic Group
My group again! Coyote is the UN person who gifted us with his presence. He reported our recommendations and pledges. There is an absolute need for an open source communication or portal, so we can all communicate and read responses. We recommended more reflection on the process, and that Bhutan continues championing the movement. We felt a clear need to broaden the constituencies and composed a broad letter of outreach for everyone. Civil society groups are very diverse, and we felt we are not one of the 9 groups of agenda 21, but instead “yeast” to reach out and “grow the loaf” so all can enjoy a communion of subjects and not a group of objects. We desire to create a inclusive diverse membership. We gave great thanks for the opportunity for this event.

Spiritual Community Group
We reflected on the small representation of the traditional and non-traditional faiths. The desire is to embrace and include every faith-based group including humanistic faiths, atheists and agnostics. We all pledged to help outreach by reaching out to all our networks – regardless of basis of faith. In our group, each gave their contacts.

Planning Group
The planning group highlighted the process and how much in these three days the process has been broad, inclusive and learning demonstrates a process that works. This process needs to be reflected in the other groups and in the reports. We must fine a way to ensure the reports are as broad and inclusive as possible. The planning group intends to continue to plan with a committee of 5 that plans to continue to work for the next 18 months. The planning group committed to a workshop for Rio +20 to discuss resiliency- a people's summit; to work with the G20; Clinton Global Initiative; the Corporate Sustainability Forum; the Council on Wellbeing; The UN General Assembly and UN Quadrennial Comprehensive Review; Local Government, Education and Families. They will develop a methodology for civil society and businesses based on experts recommendations.

They made recommendation for youth engagement based on collaborative participatory decision making and engagement with youth at the university and campus level.

Major points from the planning group:
Continue support local economies
Continue to be inclusive on a local platform
Utilization of a rights based approach that empowers women

The Prime Minister concluded with words of love and thoughtfulness about this sustainable, holistic movement and the effort that it will take. Here are bits for what he said "People resist change, even when it is unsustainable and self-destructive, even when they know they are in pain and suffering. THis is the difficulty we face. People today acknowledge and accept change is necessary, but the willingness is not here. It will be difficult. We started with a bang, from the fringes to the established. We had leaders from key countries, but this is not the end, this is only the beginning. We must prepare for many disappointments, many frustrations. What is important is that we should not be deterred. We have to continue with the kind of commitment and dedication and devotion. The sacrifice we make is worthwhile, will be worthwhile, and if we continue with this spirit, it will be a big success. Do not think the success will be at the Rio 20+. We are proposing a total paradigm shift. Yet ridged systems are being proposed. I am not sure how much our ideas can be inserted into Rio 20+, but I will represent these ideas as accurately as I can. " The Prime Minister asked for a slot at Rio 20+ when people are listening - not asleep - when the timing is prominent. He promised to do his best to ensure the UN general assembly will continue discussing GNH.

"You gave me a mandate to appoint a commission. The commission we will establish will comprise the most eminent of scholars and who are committed to the advancement of our goal. However, there might be a bit of a delay in the establishment of this commission. I shall work with the UN to see how this commission can be co-owned by the UN and perhaps function under the auspices of the UN system."

"You came here to be a part of this process and now have a responsibility to be a part of the process." The Prime Minister established a Secretariat of several people who helped make the conference happen. He designated all of us as members of the secretariat.

"We worked hard, you worked hard, over 3 days, perhaps more. It has been a very satisfying endeavor so far. The media has been supportive. I believe a majority of the people around the world are aware of this effort and contemplating he soundness of the present way of life and the need for a different way of life. A way of life that is more meaningful, more just, that will lead us to what each of us desires in life as an ultimate goal: happiness."

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