Himalayan Consensus is a holistic development paradigm that emphasizes the integrity of planetary eco-systems as an indispensable basis for socio-economic development in the Himalayan region. The agenda of the HCS program is to design and create sustainable alternative solutions based on grass root and alternative efforts that are being developed around the region. The Himalayan Consensus process involves convening an annual conference that will bring together pioneers across the region, together with business and financial leaders, in seeking pragmatic ways to scale local solutions. The first Himalayan Consensus Summit 2016 was organized in Kathmandu Valley on 17th and 18th March at the Himalaya Hotel by the Himalayan Consensus Institute, China and Nepal Economic Forum.
The opening plenary of the summit brought together global thought leaders such as the Former Foreign Secretary and Ambassador of India to US and China, Nirupama Rao, Executive President of Finance Center for South-South Cooperation, Zhang Zhi Ping, and John and Doris Naisbitt; authors of the best-seller Megatrends. The diverse panel set the tone of the summit by sharing their experiences of working and observing different paradigm changes in the economic development of countries and regions.
Laurence Brahm, Founder of Himalayan Consensus Institute (HCI), portrayed the summit as a platform for articulating a new set of ideas for a fresh economic paradigm, built on foundations of compassionate capital, environmental economics; and not monolithic globalization but diversified glocalization. South Asia is creating all kinds of business models based on sustainable development principles, which not only work towards protecting their cultures but also helps protect the environment. According to him people working towards such sustainable development paradigms are today not the representatives of alternative economics but are in fact the new mainstream. As solutions to the challenges in the Himalayan region are being discovered from within, by communities and business leaders, fresh impetus has been provided for a new financial architecture that is now emerging with India and China as the front-runners.
Before the opening plenary started, Head of Delegation of European Union to Nepal and H. E. RenjseTeerink and Ambassador of Norway to Nepal – H.E. KjellTormodPettersen addressed the participants of the summit.
Head of Delegation of European Union to Nepal, H. E. RenjseTeerink, reflected on the need for a new discourse that brings forward practical solutions to some of the most pressing problems faced by Asia; and the whole world, such as the growing pressure over natural resources, the consequences of natural and man-made disasters, the need to find a fairer economic system that allows prosperity to reach all, and the means and mechanisms to achieve all of this. In context of strengthening connectivity, Ambassador Teerink highlighted how South Asia remains one of the least integrated regions in both political and economic fronts. This is an unfortunate paradox as historically, people and ideas have circulated freely in this part of the world and looking forward, meaningful cooperation will not just be beneficial but indispensable in finding solutions to common challenges and in realizing the shared goal of prosperity.
Ambassador of Norway to Nepal, H.E. KjellTormodPettersen, started his address by how the Himalayan region has diverse ecologies and rich natural resources, but as a region still lags behind in terms of development and welfare of its people. Talking about the importance of having local dialogue and solutions to problems facing the region, he maintained that although climate change and carbon emissions are being talked about everywhere in the world today, it is a long leap from the halls of Paris to the hills of Nepal.
Policy maker and development thinker- Sam Pitroda,had to cancel his participation in the summit at the last minute owing to his health issues. He sent a video message to address the participants of the summit. His video address dwelled upon the need to have a new design for the world, sharing his excitement about the idea of Himalayan Consensus. Mr. Pitroda stated that technologyhas a lot to offer and the possibilities for the future are unique but the designs we have today are now proving to be obsolete. While technology has made tremendous leaps in helping the world deal with many of the challenges such as fighting diseases and reducing infant mortality, the world has also seen new challenges emerging in the forms of rising inequalities, and terror threats.
The post-World War II designs which saw decolonization, Chinese modernization, formation of a bipolar world and then later a uni-polar world are now changing. He stressed on the need to design a world where everybody is connected and to leverage this connectivity for the better. Mr. Pitroda stated that to him, new design was all about moving to the next step from democracy to inclusion.
The new design has to move the world from human rights to human beings, from capital markets to environmental economy, from consumption to conservation, and from violence to non-violence and for this we need new institutions, new economy, new measurements, and new organizational architectures.
Former Foreign Secretary and Ambassador of India to US and China, Ms. Nirupama Rao, opined that consensus is a term that eludes much of our political discourse today; whether internal or external. The very concept of a Himalayan Consensus is therefore illuminated with meaning.
She presented her vision of the Himalayas—as a South Asian—as an abode of light, of sacred meaning, a Mandala of integrating spaces and composite cultures stretching from the Hindu-Kush in the West to mountains and foothills of the east, into India’s Northeast and Myanmar. She stated that in between this great fringe, that creates the frontiers between South Asia, and the Central Asian plateau including Tibet, holds the secret to our future in terms of climate, water, sustainability, preservation of intangible cultural heritage, of precious languages, architecture, transport and communications.
The critical question that faces us, as Ms. Rao put it, is whether we will be able to elude sovereignties and cartographic lines, are we able to access and advance the interests of the people in between and how countries of Asia like India and China can forge a new idea of ‘Panchsheel’ and peaceful coexistence, that accesses peace, tranquility and happiness which is the essential meaning of the term ‘Shambala’.
Executive President of Finance Center for South-South Cooperation, Mr. Zhang Zhi Ping, expressed that the Finance Center respects the principles around the idea of a Himalayan Consensus which stresses the importance of protecting ethnic diversity and indigenous identity. These principles also resemble the essence of South-South Cooperation.
The concept of South-South Cooperation is one which has been enriched significantly in the last few decades based on the principles of respecting the sovereign rights, solidarity, and equality among partners for mutual benefit. He stated that concepts such as Himalayan Consensus and South-South Cooperation are the key to forge a collective effort to improve the quality of life of people through sustainable development. He also talked about the new paradigm change in China and the opportunities it presents to other countries and stressed the importance of supply-side structural reforms.
John Naisbitt, the author of best-selling author of Global Game Change, highlighted that the summit was a great time for meeting and articulating discourses around a new paradigm as the world is changing far quicker than in the past several hundred years. He stated that for the past couple of centuries the west had been at the helm for its own benefit but, that now is over and the world is moving towards a new arrangement.
Acknowledging the rich ideas presented in the opening plenary and pointing to the immense knowledge on the region that the various speakers bring in during the course of the summit, Doris Naisbitt—the co-author of Global Game Change, opined that for her the Himalayan Consensus Summit was a great learning platform. Sharing her and John’s experiences around the world as they put together their book, she highlighted that there is really a game change happening in the world and drew parallels to such a paradigm shift with the Himalayan Consensus Summit.