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  • Agenda

Beyond GDP: Development Alternatives to Growth

International Development Institute Symposium 2015
Humber College, Lakeshore Campus
Toronto, ON  


The economic growth paradigm and GDP, its accompanying measurement tool, have historically dominated development theory and practice. The need to move beyond such an approach, however, is increasingly clear. The recent global economic crisis, the challenge of climate change, on-going overconsumption mirrored by abject poverty, and the increasing role of religion and culture in shaping people’s priorities all suggest that a development paradigm based on unlimited growth is short-sighted, incomplete and, ultimately, unsustainable.

Beyond GDP: Development Alternatives to Growth will explore alternatives to the economic growth paradigm that are multidimensional and integrated. How might we move more effectively beyond a sole focus on GDP and growth? Three themes will structure the symposium: conceptualizing development alternatives that are multidimensional; measuring multidimensional approaches at the international, national and project levels; and implementing multidimensional development initiatives on the ground. Using the experience of Bhutan and its Gross National Happiness strategy as an example of an applied model, participants will explore how we might better shape sustainable development, both conceptually and practically, in both the Global South and North. 

REGISTRATION: 8:00 - 9:00am

1.  Welcome and Overview of the Day (9:00 - 9:15am)

2.  Opening Remarks (9:15 - 9:30am)

Speaker: The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, OC, OOnt, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and former Under-Secretary-General of the UN

3. Keynote Address: Bhutan and Gross National Happiness 
    as an Applied Model
(9:30 – 10am)

Speaker: Honourable Jigmi Y. Thinley, former Prime Minister of Bhutan

Focus: What can we learn about moving beyond GDP from Bhutan’s experience implementing Gross National Happiness (GNH), both in terms of conceptualizing a multidimensional approach as well as implementing and measuring it.

4. Armchair Session: A Conversation with
     the Honourable Jigmi Y. Thinley
(10:00 – 10:30am)

Speaker & Host: Honourable Jigmi Y. Thinley interviewed by Lauchlan Munro, Director of the School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa

Focus: Lessons learned from Bhutan’s experience, both positive and negative, in relation to the conceptualization, measurement and implementation of Gross National Happiness.

COFFEE BREAK (10:30 – 10:50am)

5. Conceptualizing Development as Multidimensional:
    Key Issues and Themes. Panel Presentations

    (10:50am – 12:15pm)

Moderator: David Miller, President & CEO, WWF-Canada

•  Marilyn McHarg, President, Aid Solutions 
•  Jamie McIntosh, Vice President, Programs and Policy, 
    World Vision Canada 
•  Faisal Moola, Director General, Ontario & Northern
    Canada, David Suzuki Foundation
•  Ian Smillie, Development consultant and author

Focus: How might development be better conceptualized and understood so it is multidimensional, integrated and sustainable?

LUNCH (12:15 – 1:30pm)

6. Measuring Multidimensional Development: Possibilities 
    and Challenges. Roundtable Discussion
 (1:30 – 2:30pm)

Moderator: Craig Johnson, University of Guelph

•  Susan J. Elliott, University of Waterloo 
•  Ronald Colman, Executive Director, GPI Atlantic 
•  Harry Cummings, University of Guelph
•  Katherine Scott, Vice President, Research & Policy, 
    Canadian Council on Social Development 

Focus: What key issues arise when measuring development initiatives in a multidimensional way that moves beyond a sole focus on GDP and economic growth?


7. Innovations and Issues in Implementing
    Multidimensional Development Strategies. 
    Breakout Sessions
 (2:45 – 4:00pm)

Session #1. Integrated Approaches to Conflict Prevention, Transformation and Vulnerability. (Room L1004)

- Simon Chorley, International Programs Manager,
   UNICEF Canada
- Maria Paula Ballesteros, Program Manager, Plan Canada
- Mukti Suvedi, Peace Advocate
- Chair: John Lewis, Humber College 

Session #2. Corporate Social Responsibility: A Private Sector Role in Multidimensional Development?
(Room L1006)

- Elizabeth Dove, Senior Vice President, Strategy,
   The Divinsky Group
- Phillip Haid, CEO, Public Inc.
- Cory Wanless, Klippensteins Barristers and Solicitors
- Chair: Susan MacGregor, Humber College 

Session #3. Sustainable & Equitable Livelihoods: Connecting Economic, Ecological, Gender and Rights Concerns. (Room L1009)

- Angela Wilton, Managing Senior Advisor, Research &
   Learning, Save the Children Canada
- Leah Adema, Program Coordinator, Presbyterian World
   Service & Development
- TJ Grant & Josh Folkema, World Vision Canada
- Chair: Stephen Stockton, Humber College 

Session #4. Integrated and Holistic Approaches to Health Development. (Room L1007)

- Dr. Heather Murphy, Research Fellow,
   University of Guelph
- Asha Gervan, International Development Institute,
   Humber College
- Sarath Chandrasekere, Humber College
- Chair: Marissa Kokkoros, Aura Freedom International 

8. Where To From Here? (4:05 – 4:20pm)

Speaker: Tanjina Mirza, Vice-President,
International Programs, Plan Canada

9. Closing (4:20 – 4:30pm)