Then a Fresh
Economic Paradigm…
Himalayan Consensus is a holistic economic development paradigm that emphasizes the integrity of planetary eco-systems as an indispensible basis for socio-economic development.
Himalayan Consensus makes Bhutan’s vision of GNH operational by expanding the innovative solutions of social entrepreneurs into globally relevant models for environmentally enhancing economic development.
It applies Himalayan traditions towards contemporary challenges and priorities and harmonizes the concerns of human communities, commercial enterprise, and the natural environment.

Himalayan Consensus as a concept arose from Laurence Brahm’s original work pioneering social enterprise on the Tibetan plateau. During the film expedition “Searching for Shangri-la” in 2002, he was strongly influenced by local responses to globalization. Ethnic groups across the region were spontaneously setting up small-scale businesses to protect their identity and culture. Indigenous culture by nature emphasizes protection of the environment. From this equation he saw an economic paradigm.

Laurence Brahm and Ian Baker being received by Bhutan's current Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay

In 2005, drawing upon collective experiences (eco-tourism, nature conservancy, restoration, education, medical and artisan workshops for disabled) he established Shambhala Serai group as one of Asia’s first social enterprise. Today it includes four hotels in Tibet – three in historical restored buildings and one a nature conservancy. All rely on solar energy. The operations in turn support a school of one hundred and fifty children, medical clinics, workshop for Tibetans with disabilities. The social enterprise raised funding for over 3,000 corrective operations for blind nomads. Only local Tibetan staff are managing and working in the business.
From this experience Brahm concluded a business can be: profitable, protect culture, empower people, and be environmentally sound. If managed properly a business model can assure sustainability of culture and be a driver for environmental protection innovation and technology. It all comes down to values and approach. Brahm firmly believes that pre-conceived notions (such as business must be about profit only, or misconceptions that environmental protection is a hindrance to growth) must be overcome by a more rational, holistic yet pragmatic approach.
From 2007 he began integrating experiences with Mohammed Yunus the father of micro-finance, and leaders in Bhutan where the concept of “gross national happiness” was born, the concept of Himalayan Consensus emerged as a fresh economic paradigm. Brahm wrote extensively about this concept in a series of articles under the column “Himalayan Consensus” in Asia Review magazine during the years 2007-2008. Himalayan Consensus was again articulated in Brahm’s 2009 book “The Anti-Globalization Breakfast Club” and explained in more detailed economic language in his latest book “FUSION ECONOMICS” which also introduces the African Consensus.
Other early spokespersons for Himalayan Consensus have included: National Geographic Himalayan explorer Ian Baker (the only explorer to ever reach the basin of the Brahmaputra canyon which is the world’s deepest gorge and author of numerous books including “Heart of the World” and “Dalai Lama’s Secret Temple”); founder of China Explorer’s Society Wong How Man (the first man to discover the actual source location of the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, and Salween rivers on the Tibetan plateau); Nepalese business leader Sujeev Shakya (author of the book “Unleashing Nepal” and founder of the Nepal Economic Forum), Bhutan’s former Prime Minister Sri Lankan President Rajapaksna.

Himalayan Consensus Core Principles draw upon traditional values of the Himalayan region to emphasize:

I)      Respect of ethnic diversity, through
II)      Cultural sustainable development, that prioritizes
III)      Environmental protection

Economic foundations are integral to assuring cultural evolution in a sustainable way that protects ethnic diversity. Which all goes to say that business is needed to be a stakeholder in the community. Businesas in turn needs to recognize that environmental integrity is essential for our survival as a species and therefore a priority. Moreover, reducing energy costs through renewable and efficient energy can be the next opportunity for business innovation and finance.

Advising on the Hindu Kush Himalayan Assessment on climate change to apply scientific observation of glacial melt to government policy for mitigation.

Himalayan Consensus Summit is an outcome from these years of work articulating the Himalayan Consensus as a fresh economic paradigm. It will convene as an influential group of multi-stakeholder leaders representing a spectrum of interests from: business, finance, civil society and government. The Summit will convene annually in Bhutan and develop a consensus of vision and action between these stakeholders. Through panel discussions profiling individual success cases, practical experiences will be synthesized into an integrated environmentally enhancing economic development model. The Himalayan Consensus Summit will emphasize locally inspired solutions with global relevance and applicability. Annual Summits will conclude with an outcome document to serve as pragmatic policy recommendations for decision makers that can guide business toward environmental and social responsibility, to build each consecutive year as an evolving framework for sustainable development.

Himalayan Consensus Secretariat

The Himalayan Consensus Secretariat is being established in Kathmandu as the working offices of the Himalayan Consensus Summit. The Secretariat will conceptualize and plan the annual Himalayan Consensus Summit, and undertake programs to realize the outcomes of the Summit, through projects arising from the summit, supported through website, media and data base management, hosting and participation in workshops, seminars, and establishing a socially interactive community outreach and exhibition center in Kathmandu.
Himalayan Consensus Institute is a non-government organization registered under the laws of Hong Kong. It was established to promote the Himalayan Consensus as a fresh economic paradigm and to conduct social enterprise, environmental and community empowerment projects and research in the Himalayan region. It also has become partner to Uongozi Institute and University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania in advising on the establishment of the African Consensus Forum, an initiative based on Himalayan Consensus precepts.
Himalayan Consensus Institute is cooperating with the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature in convening the Himalayan Consensus Summit in Bhutan together with ICIMOD based in Nepal. Other stakeholders are Eco-Himalaya, Nepal Economic Forum and Dwarinkas in Nepal.
Himalayan Consensus Institute advocacy emphasizes practical government responses through policy to guide business toward decision-making that will ensure protection of local diversity, community empowerment, and prioritizing environmental protection through adoption of renewable and efficient energy.

Discussing Himalayan Consensus as the actualization of GNH with Bhutan's former Prime Minister Jigme Y. Thinley.

With Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksna.

With Muhammad Yunus in Beijing and at Rio+20 and in Beijing. In 2006 Brahm joined Yunus on the front cover of China’s financial magazine Cai Jing story entitled “Bankers to the Poor.”

In the field in western Tibet....Meeting with Bhutan's Minister of Commerce Norbu Wangchuk with National Geographic explorer and author Ian Baker.

In the field in western Tibet....Meeting with Bhutan's Minister of Commerce Norbu Wangchuk with National Geographic explorer and author Ian Baker.