Living with nature through oriental wisdom

08 October 2008 | News story

How do you measure how well off a country is? How about using Gross National Happiness (GNH)? That’s the way Bhutan defines quality of life, as opposed to Gross National Product.

And what about Thailand’s economic sufficiency philosophy? This focuses on living a moderate, self-dependent life without greed or overexploitation of, for example, natural resources.

Such ideas were explored at a workshop on Living with Nature through Oriental Wisdom at the heart of the IUCN World Conservation Congress today.

“Embracing a sustainable way of life requires an appreciation of how different kinds of knowledge contribute to peaceful and harmonious co-existence between human and the natural world,” says Prof. Apichai Puntasen, Vice Chair of Thailand-based Good Governance for Social Development and the Environment Institute.

The four pillars of Gross National Happiness are the promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, establishment of good governance and conservation of the natural environment.

“Alternative development approaches that seek a more balanced production and consumption pattern can offer valuable insights,” says Prof. Apichai Puntasen. “The Asia-Pacific region offers several alternative development models based on Oriental wisdom that apply local wisdom to national development policies. These concepts, based on moral and spiritual values, focus not only on sustainable production but also on sustainable consumption.”

The workshop explored how the current alternative development models can inform the debate on globalization in the context of extreme environmental challenges that we are facing today. The recommendations from the forum will be used to further develop Oriental Wisdom-based framework for environmental and natural resources management.