Bhutan to define biodiversity and climate investments and opportunities

Jul 18, 2016

50% of Bhutan's total land area is under the Protected Area network of the country.

18 July 2016, Thimphu: With a two-day workshop commencing Monday 18 July in Thimphu, Bhutan begins a three-year journey to determine how best to finance the nation’s rich biodiversity conservation and climate action.

Bhutan joins 29 other nations in this effort as a member of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP’s) BIOFIN (Biodiversity Finance) initiative, designed to leverage resources for biodiversity conservation through long-term financial solutions by joining hands with national biodiversity stakeholders and global conservation partners.

Speaking at the launch of the of the BIOFIN (Biodiversity Finance) initiative, Agriculture minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said that although biodiversity continues, “To be of great economic, social, ecological, cultural and spiritual importance to the Bhutanese people”, it is essential for countries like Bhutan to assess financial gaps.

As part of the BIOFIN Inception Phase, a Project Steering Committee and a Technical Working Group have been created to help steer the BIOFIN process in Bhutan. The BIOFIN Steering Committee, comprising of high-level biodiversity stakeholders, will provide overall guidance to the project.  The Committee will ensure that the project implementation is in line with the approved project guidelines and government norms.

Through the initiative, which is supported by the European Commission and the Governments of Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Flanders, Bhutan will define current biodiversity conservation investments, and identify financial needs and resource mobilization challenges and opportunities through national assessments. Potential revenue streams beyond traditional development financing will be explored, considering private sector, local fund providers, and other partners in line with the blended finance vision of the Agenda 2030.

The BIOFIN aims to build an evidence-based investment case to attract investors to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 on Biodiversity, Forests and Desertification, as well as making progress against other SDGs including SDG 13 on Climate Action, and SDG 1 on the eradication of poverty.

Addressing the participants during the launch, Ms. Christina Carlson, the UNDP Bhutan Resident Representative said, “Therefore, there is a scope to unify the approaches to allow for a more integrated analysis of public investments and gaps in these SDGs.”

With more than 50 percent of the total land area under the protected area system and a constitutional mandate to preserve at least 60 percent of the nation under forest cover for all time, Bhutan is a global leader in environmental conservation.

Bhutan’s forests can sequester 6.3 million tons of carbon dioxide - four times of what the Bhutan emits - making it world’s only carbon negative country. Recent evaluation has valued Bhutan’s total ecosystem services to be worth US$ 15.5 billion per year.

However, for a developing country like Bhutan, continued conservation comes at a cost and will require concerted effort: Bhutan has one of the highest per capita fuel wood consumption in the world and 69 percent of the population relies on climate-sensitive agriculture. At the same time, the Bhutanese economy is dependent on hydro-power, a sector vulnerable to impacts of climate change. The global platform and network of BIOFIN therefore presents an opportunity for Bhutan to learn from other nation’s experiences, and to share its own, such that both national and global biodiversity conservation and climate action can be assured.

Given Bhutan’s unique position and scope to demonstrate its leadership in implementing the three prioritized SDGs, preliminary ideas for BIOFIN Bhutan indicates that there are existing and potential synergies between the three SDGs and their initiatives. In this context, a Green Investment Plan has been prepared and is available here

The BIOFIN Inception Report is also available here 

 

BIOFIN: UNDP in October 2012 launched the Biodiversity Finance Initiative – BIOFIN, as a new global partnership seeking to address the biodiversity finance challenge in a comprehensive manner – building a sound business case for increased investment in the management of ecosystems and biodiversity, with a particular focus on the needs and transformational opportunities at the national level. 

For more information, contact;

Ngawang Gyeltshen, BIOFIN Programme Coordinator, UNDP Bhutan: Ngawang.gyeltshen@undp.org

Pushkar Chhetri, Communications Analyst, UNDP Bhutan: pushkar.chhetri@undp.org

Or visit: www.biodiversityfinance.net