The GNH Fund 21 June, 2011 – The litmus test to create a gross national happiness fund has begun.
Some 70 people, comprising inventors, entrepreneurs, scientists, financiers and bankers from around 25 countries, have come together to assess opportunities green technologies offer for economic development that are in line with Bhutan’s development philosophy.
Degradable plastics, tapping resin fuel from blue pine to replace imported fossil fuel, putting wind turbines on electricity turbines and mining without much waste and damage are among the identified projects that would be discussed in the next five days.
Belgian entrepreneur and founder of Zero Emissions Research Initiative (ZERI) foundation, Gunter Pauli, known for coming up with the Blue Economy business model, said all participants are committed to economic development; one, where work is done with what one has.
“We don’t want to emulate the economic models of China or India where it’s mass produced and standardised,” Gunter Pauli said. “And we’ve found in Bhutan a very fertile ground for an economic model that really tries to reach out, not just to what you can have as a person, but what you can be as a person.”
Gunter Pauli identified 36 projects that could be implemented using green technology when he was travelling across Bhutan. After discussions with the Bhutanese, they zoomed into a dozen of these projects that “made a lot of sense.”
“For example, we have a person here from Colombia tapping pines to make fuel for the cars,” Gunter Pauli said. “We don’t kill the tree and instead it actually becomes stronger and so tapping trees for fuel is one opportunity.”
He said there are also people among the participants, who can turn waste generated from forests, tree or agriculture into plastics. “So, instead of having plastics, which are bad for your environment, we can have plastics, which are good for your environment,” he said.
Yet another participant is an investor in Internet, who has about 80 companies across the world related to Internet. “He has offered that, if Bhutan is interested, all the young people could be connected to the Internet for free,” Gunter Pauli said.
In the coming five days, some 15 concrete ideas, proposals and technologies would be shared and discussed. Providing a concrete insight in the innovative business models, the projects cover energy, food, housing, health, construction and even internet.
GNH commission secretary Karma Tshiteem said, at the moment, the GNH fund is an idea that would fund green projects, which benefit the communities.
“We’ve identified a series of projects and now see if we can get people interested to invest money to support these projects,” the secretary said, after the opening of the meeting yesterday in Termalinca, Thimphu. “That investment will be done in this fund called the GNH fund.”
The workshop was inaugurated by Her Majesty the queen mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck.
President of Club of Rome and Vice-Chairman of ZERI foundation during the inauguration, Ashok Khosla, said blue economy is about alternatives, about how does one choose the kinds of technologies and the right kind of approaches.
“It’s quite amazing that Bhutan is actually pioneering ways through the application of blue economy principles,” he said. “Bhutan seems to have understood the difference between need and greed, between efficiency and sufficiency, and that is the driving force for what is to become a great blue economy.”
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