400 plus Bhutanese register for Bhutan Innovation Forum within 2 days

400 plus Bhutanese register for Bhutan Innovation Forum within 2 days

Meet some of the luminaries that will make the skies of Paro and Bhutan glitter

Druk Holding and Investments (DHI) announcement of the “Inaugural Bhutan Innovation Forum,” set to be held at Dungkar Dzong in Pangbisa from  1-3 October, 2024, which will be centered around Gelephu Mindfulness City (GMC), has ignited huge interest in the Bhutanese populace.  This is illustrated by the fact that more than 400 Bhutanese had registered for the Forum as of 1800 hours, July 5th, 2024.

“Firstly, we have to thank His Majesty, not only for pioneering GMC, but for bringing these highly distinguished investors, thought leaders and philosophers to Bhutan. It will be three days of dialogues and though centered on GMC, the discussions will be about the world, for I believe that GMC is an answer to problems that the world faces today,” Ugen Tshering Dukpa, a civil servant added. “I do not know if we can avail the opportunity to attend, but I will definitely register,” he said.

“As covered by you paper, this forum is testament to His Majesty’s leadership and ability to inspire minds across various disciplines, one that can unite the world’s top thought leaders, economists, philosophers, investors, and philanthropists,” he said.

Chencho Tshering from Yoedzerling Higher Secondary School said that in a world that is experiencing turbulence with various headwinds and crosswinds, the concept of GMC is a tailwind that has propensity to help us propel through 21st century, with our economy and cultural intact. “It is this power of HM’s vision for GMC that has drawn luminaries from across the world and across disciplines to this tiny Himalayan Kingdom. Bhutan Innovation Forum is an output of Bold Beckoning that Bhutan has made, and come October these luminaries will be in Dungkar Dzong to help realize HM’s vision. If the future is created by what we do today, then definitely Bhutan Innovation Forum will harbinger for new pathway for development in Bhutan and the world. I would not want to miss it, if given a chance to participate,” Chencho said.

“Ever since HM the King announced GMC during 116th National day, it has almost become our Economic National Anthem with people wanting to sing it all our way to prosperity. And, now with experts from around the world in Bhutan to help fine-tune and sing the anthem, i would like to be part of the chorus, if not the lead,” he said, adding that he registered as soon as he could.

Chencho added that GMC is small Bhutan’s BIG story! “While the world is helping script the story, it is also equally important for average Bhutanese like us to be a part of the story. Attending the forum will help us understand the big picture, and carve out our own role and responsibilities in it – no matter how insignificant or indirect. Attending the forum by an average Bhutanese, as i see it, can heighten one’s sense of belonging and purpose to the BIG story.”

Adding to it, Chencho said such high end conferences and forums are kept as prerogative of high officials. “It is wonderful to let average Bhutanese be a part when it happens in our own country, which will help in diffusing more information about GMC. I am a teacher, and my participation in such forum could help me understand the process of building GMC narration, and help further the narratives at school,” he said. “It is an opportunity of a lifetime and there will be very rare occasions where you will see all these luminaries in one boat,”

Sonam Wangchuk, an upcoming entrepreneur based in Thimphu said. “I have read about all the distinguished guests who have confirmed to come, listened to podcasts and I am very excited that I will be seeing them and hearing them talk in person. I hope to learn about what they have to say about the Gelephu Mindfulness City (GMC), so that I can be prepared for anything,” Sonam said.

It is both the theme of the forum and the stars attending the forum which has generated the hype. So, who are these starts?

Evan Thomas Spiegel (born June 4, 1990) is a French-American businessman, co-founder and CEO of Snap Inc. He became a billionaire at the age of 25. Each day some 397 million people use Snapchat to send disappearing photos and videos. Spiegel launched the company with Bobby Murphy, a Stanford University fraternity brother, in 2011.

Joseph Eugene Stiglitz, was born on February 9, and is an American New Keynesian economist, public policy analyst, and political activist. He is a University Professor at Columbia University, where he teaches in the Economics Department, Business School, and School of International and Public Affairs, and chairs the Committee on Global Thought. Stiglitz won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2001 for his work on markets with asymmetric information and the John Bates Clark Medal in 1979.

He previously served as Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank and chaired President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors.

Professor Stern is the IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government, Chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and Head of the India Observatory at the London School of Economics.

He rose to fame with, the Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review which became one of the most influential reports on climate change ever produced since its release by Her Majesty’s Treasury of the UK Government in October 2006.

Sir Richard John Roberts, Chief Scientific Officer at New England Biolabs in Massachusetts, USA, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1993 for discovering split genes and mRNA splicing. These discoveries revolutionized the understanding of genes and advanced fields such as cancer research.

Michael Spence, born in 1943 in Montclair, New Jersey, is an American economist who, along with George A. Akerlof and Joseph E. Stiglitz, won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2001 for his work on the theory of markets with asymmetric information. Spence’s research on markets with asymmetric information led to the development of the theory of “signaling.”

Joyce Chang is the Global Head of Research and a management committee member for J.P. Morgan’s Corporate & Investment Bank. J.P. Morgan’s Global Research department, with over 900 analysts in 26 countries, holds top industry rankings. It has been ranked #1 in U.S. equity and fixed income research and European fixed income research by Institutional Investor and Greenwich Associates since 2010.

Joyce has been named one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Finance by American Banker for four consecutive years and recognized by the Wall Street Journal (Top 50 Women to Watch), Crain’s Business New York (40 Under 40), the Asian American Business Development Council (Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business), and the Women’s Bond Club (Annual Merit Award). She received her B.A. from Columbia University, winning the John Jay Award in 2014, and earned a Master of Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.

Bjarke Ingels is the Founding Partner of BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, with offices in Copenhagen, New York, London, and Barcelona. He gained international acclaim, including winning the Global Holcim Awards 2015 Bronze for “The Dryline: Urban flood protection infrastructure, New York.”

In 2005, Ingels founded BIG, which swiftly gained recognition through winning design and architectural competitions worldwide. The firm’s approach combines rigorous analysis, playful experimentation, social responsibility, and humor. BIG is behind GMC’s architect and unveiled its masterplan for a 1,000-square-kilometre development in Bhutan last year.

Born in France in 1946 to French philosopher Jean-François Revel and artist Yahne Le Toumelin, Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk, author, translator, and photographer. His journey into Buddhism began during his first visit to India in 1967, where he encountered renowned Tibetan spiritual masters. After earning his Ph.D. in cell genetics in 1972, he relocated to the Himalayas, where he has resided for the past 45 years.

Ricard is an internationally acclaimed author and speaker, recognized at prestigious events such as the World Economic Forum in Davos, United Nations forums, and TED.

By Ugyen Tenzin, Thimphu