Tho Ha Vinh | 14.02.2017

Gross National Happiness: An Alternative Development Paradigm

Tho Ha Vinh, Source: Tho Ha Vinh
Tho Ha Vinh, Source: Tho Ha Vinh

Public talk | 14.02.2017 | 16:00 - 17:30 | Uni Freiburg | Tennenbacher Str. 4, 79106 Freiburg, Germany | Herderbau | Room 100


About: Tho Ha Vinh holds a Ph.D. in psychology and education from the University of Geneva. He is the Program Director at the Gross National Happiness Centre in Bhutan ( and the founder and chairman of Eurasia Foundation, a humanitarian NGO ( Also, Tho Ha Vinh is a Buddhist teacher in the Tradition of Vietnamese Zen Buddhism ordained by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Previously, he has been serving as head of training, learning and development at the International Committee of the Red Cross, and has been working as a professor with several universities in Europe and Vietnam. Tho Ha Vinh published books and articles on curative education, engaged spirituality, intercultural dialogue, adult education and humanitarian action.


Talk: In the 1970s, the fourth King of Bhutan challenged the conventional and materialistic notions of development. He realized that the existing development paradigm based on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measurement was narrowly focussing on endless economic growth despite limited resources on a finite planet. Above all, it did not consider the goal of all progress, which is to enhance the happiness of all people and the wellbeing of all life forms. Inspired by age-old Buddhist wisdom in the ancient Kingdom of Bhutan, the fourth King concluded that GDP was neither an equitable nor a meaningful measurement for human happiness, nor should it be the primary focus for governance. Thus, the philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH) was born. Since that time this pioneering vision of GNH has guided Bhutan’s development and policy formation. Unique among the community of nations, it is a balanced ‘middle path’, in which equitable socio-economic development is integrated with environmental conservation, cultural promotion, and good governance. In this talk we will together explore the framework of GNH and outline examples of its implementation in specific areas such as education and business in Bhutan and abroad.