Global leaders to congregate at the Bhutan Inaugural Innovation Forum this October

PEMA TSHOMO
Thimphu

Bhutan will convene a gathering of the world’s brightest minds this October at the inaugural Bhutan Innovation Forum, with a focus on the groundbreaking Gelephu Mindfulness City (GMC) project.

The forum, scheduled for October 1–3 in Pangbisa, Paro promises to be more than just another conference; it’s a testament to the global recognition Bhutan’s visionary King has garnered for his unique approach to development.

The three-day event will bring together over 70 renowned international speakers, including tech titans, Nobel laureates, and economic powerhouses. Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snap Inc., the company behind Snapchat, will join the forum alongside Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, climate economist Lord Nicholas Stern, and scientist and Nobel laureate Rich Roberts.

The roster also includes economist Mike Spence, J.P. Morgan Chase’s Chair of Global Research Joyce Chang, Buddhist monk and philosopher Matthieu Ricard, and world-renowned architect Bjarke Ingels.

This diverse assembly reflects the multifaceted nature of the GMC project, which seeks to integrate mindfulness practices with cutting-edge advancements in various sectors.

Spiegel expressed his honor at being invited to the forum, highlighting his admiration for His Majesty’s vision to empower Bhutan’s next generation of entrepreneurs. “I look forward to discussing how mindfulness can foster innovation and the critical role technology can play in this endeavor,” Spiegel said.

The forum will center on the GMC initiative, announced by His Majesty The King on the 116th National Day in 2023. His Majesty described GMC as a one-of-a-kind city “anchored on the vision and values of Gross National Happiness (GNH).” This city, to be built in Gelephu, aspires to be a “Mindfulness City” characterized by “conscious and sustainable businesses, inspired by Buddhist spiritual heritage, and distinguished by the uniqueness of the Bhutanese identity.”

Bhutan envisions Gelephu as a Special Administrative Region, a model knowledge economy that seamlessly integrates sustainability and well-being with economic prosperity. The city aims to become an incubator for excellence in art, innovation, and entrepreneurship, serving as an economic hub that propels not only Bhutan but the entire South Asian region towards a brighter future.

Joseph Stiglitz, another confirmed speaker, underscored the forum’s potential to transform Bhutan’s “collective learning capabilities,” the most crucial societal asset. “The Bhutan Innovation Forum will set the dynamics for building human capital and creating a learning society while upholding its commitments to mindfulness and societal well-being,” remarked Stiglitz.

Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk and scholar who has lived in the Himalayas for over five decades, is another notable attendee. Ricard brings a wealth of experience in meditation research and humanitarian work to the forum.

Ugyen Tenzin, Chief Editor of Business Bhutan, expressed his excitement about the forum’s potential impact. “This forum is the fruit of His Majesty’s tireless efforts in promoting the concept of GMC globally,” Tenzin said. “It signifies global recognition of His Majesty’s leadership and his remarkable ability to inspire minds from various disciplines.” 

Further, Ugyen Tenzin emphasized how the forum showcases the depth of the King’s knowledge and vision, evident in bringing together such a diverse and accomplished group of individuals.

The Bhutan Innovation Forum represents the culmination of the King’s unwavering dedication to the GMC project since its groundbreaking announcement in December 2023.

The forum also signifies the international community’s eagerness to contribute to this pioneering endeavor, further solidifying GMC’s position on the world stage. It serves as yet another testament to HM’s commitment to securing a bright and prosperous future for his people.

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