Earth Report, Gross National Happiness

    Wednesday December 12, 2012 @ 1:00 PM

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    Before 1960, the Himalayan mountain Kingdom of Bhutan had no contact with the outside world. Isolationism was a policy of choice. However, squeezed between two regional superpowers, China and India, it was vulnerable to a takeover; so in 1971 the kingdom joined the UN. That didn’t mean that Bhutan's enlightened Eton-educated king was about to see his country embrace the 20th-century pattern of development that puts material wealth before all else. In the succeeding decades, Bhutan has certainly opened up. But in this edition of Earth Report, we find that it has done so largely on its own terms.

    Post-screening discussion with Dena Merriam of the Global Peace Initiative of Women.

    GAIAM TV Selected Film Short

    About the Speaker

    Dena Merriam began working in the interfaith movement in the late 1990s when she served as Vice Chair of the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders held at the United Nation in New York.  She subsequently convened a meeting of women religious and spiritual leaders at the Palais des Nations in Geneva and from that gathering founded the Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW) in 2002, an organization chaired by a multi-faith group of women spiritual leaders.  The mission of this organization is to enable women to facilitate healing and reconciliation in areas of conflict and post-conflict, and to bring spiritual resources to help address critical global problems.  GPIW’s work in the area of peacebuilding has expanded to include fostering new models of development, inclusive and sustainable, and to changing attitudes toward the environment, regaining the sense of awe, respect and reverence for earth and her life systems.  In addition to organizing dialogues in areas of conflict and tension, GPIW has organized spiritual forums at the United Nations Climate Conferences in 2010 and 2011, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in Brazil in 2012.  The organization has also organized spiritual forums during the G20 Summits in 2010 and 2011 around the theme “Re-envisioning Prosperity.”  These activities have led to a deeper exploration of the concept behind the Gross National Happiness Index (GNH) developed by the government of Bhutan, and in 2012 GPIW established a working partnership with the GNH Center in Bhutan. Representing GPIW, she recently met with the Honorable PM of Bhutan, Jigmi Thinley at Rio+20 and again in Bhutan in Oct 2012. With the GNH Center, she will be organizing  a conference on GNH from an inter-faith perspective in June of 2013. The meeting will bring together religious leaders from many faith traditions  and many parts of the world to explore ways to deepen understanding and implementation of GNH internationally.