Today is day three of the Wellbeing and Happiness: Towards a New Economic Paradigm conference at the United Nations. We spent the first day building momentum with speech after speech by world leaders (presidents, prime ministers?)

Day two we went into breakout sessions. Today all three groups presented their work to the Prime Minister. But before we began, we all spent two moments in silence. Two brief moments of eternity.

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Experts Group
The experts group was composed of academics and scientists. They reviewed the 12 recommended global policies and then agreed that a new goal is need, as per Dana Meadows suggestion In Limits to Growth. Bob Costanza presented their findings in graphics with the pillars of Well-being and Happiness, Ecology, Fairness and Efficient Use of Resources overlaid by natural, social, economic and personal environment. They saw four needed strategies: (1) a complex systems-based approach, (2) trans-disciplinary (beyond interdisciplinary), (3) adaptive management, and (4) participatory, solutions focused. They called for working groups to focus on (a)definitions and measurements, (b) Complex systems, (c) Institutions and Governance, (d) Financial systems, (e) GNH Enterprise, and (f) Education for altruism and compassion. A man who works at the UN cited the UN Resolution on Happiness 65/309: and suggested the committees for development policy and quadrennial policy review are a good place for the work of the suggested groups to start. John Helliwell gave deep thanks, and talked of last year when the UN assembly broke into applause when the Prime Minister introduced the ides of happiness and well-being to the UN. Someone suggested that happiness become one of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

During the Q&A, one of the religious leaders challenged the science-based approach, stating we need a heart-spirit based movement. Bob agreed that we need a different approach within science, but that all the fields are needed.

Communications Group
The group identified three categories for their strategy: (1) Presenting a business case of the New Economic Paradigm, (2) Creating a communications roadmap and (3) use of Information Technology. For the business case, they talked about core components: Justice: Economic Social and Environmental, Survival of the Planet, Profitability of Business; and Personal well-being, health and happiness. For the road map they talked about the need to design, identify, create and disseminate effective communication. They identified the aspects of a Framework: Values, Target Audience, Message framing, Channels and Structures/Resources.

They identified some talking points:

  • UN Resolution on Happiness
  • Happiness and wellbeing dovetails with your mission
  • Give examples of what you plan to do
  • Examples from elsewhere
  • Each country defines happiness and well-being for itself
  • Sustainability is a part of happiness and well-being
  • Happiness and well-being is good for PR, who can object to this goal??
  • Happiness and well-being leverages citizen action
  • Promote local initiatives and improvements
  • Participation improves happiness
  • “If you are associated with this, you will look good”

The communications team called on a permanent secretarial that would oversee technical teams, communications and dissemination. They talked about a resting place for all the content out there: from social media to marketing and advertising campaigns. One comment was the need for un-branding the movement so it is not owned by any one or group of organization and thus more accesible. There was dissension with the idea of a business case – which is to make money, and the need for a moral case – because more than just money is at stake, but the future of the planet and people. One of the religious leaders asked what the impact of those who do not want a new economic paradigm will be.

Civic Group
This is the groups I was in. It was a rockin’ day. We were supposed to plan a global movement to implement gross national happiness. Hunter Lovins presented to the group. We created a charter for the work : We as inhabitants of an interdependent global system… Three things to do: (1) Create a secretariat (just like the communications group said). (2) Create a Happiness Bank that is outside the debt based system which would fund projects outside the economic paradigm and raise 7B dollars, one dolar for each person on earth, then put place a board of elders from around the world. Lots of other plans for the bank were laid. (3) Conduct outreach to the world will, which includes building a new accounting system, using new indicators, transforming education, offering tangible toolkits, providing a databases of known solutions and many many other strategies. To get this work done, a shift in values is needed. A shift from the consumption society, a shift away from the goal of economic growth, a shift towards compassion and altruism.

World Religious Leaders Group
Our group had a subgroup of world religious leaders. They began their synopsis with a chant by a monk from Bhutan. In English it is: happiness, compassion, joy, equanimity, They spoke of the need for deepening and strengthen altruism and compassion. They called on a 1% campaign in which all people give 1% of their time and 1% of their money to a charity. They asked that all happiness meetings to open with a moment of silence. They crafted a statement which they all signed but I caught just a little bit: “As leaders representing various spiritual traditions, we believe that in the new economic paradigm, the role of spiritual traditions is to preserve and transmit to future generations the wisdom and love in their own religion, heritage… The new economic paradigm is based on compassion, altruism, balance, peace…. A pledge to ethical conduct…”

Planning Group
They all agreed that process is as important at the product. They identified the major conferences of initiatives coming up in the next 18 most. They looked to Occupy as an important player. They identified who in what group would conduct face to face meetings with people at RIon +20. They recommended a local strategy with local action. They decided they needed to offer a tool-box of established best practices. The importance of including and harnessing the power of youth was highlighted. Money and capacity building must be a part of the planning and strategy. They created a press release for the movement. During the planning group’s Q&A, a woman asked: How will we know when we are successful. The outcomes need to be developed so they are adaptive.

Yesterday at our working group we closed with a blessing by each, all of us holding hands and each leader saying a prayer then a short song. Today the session was closed with a intergenerational blessing by Rabbi Soetendorp.

This is a synopsis of the work of over 200 people who stayed after the first day, when there were over 650 people. Each of these people are amazing, highly qualified leaders in their field. The work we did yesterday to lay the groundwork for a global movement was powerful, and the world needs us to take action now.



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