Owing to Bhutan’s small economy, dependence on farming and agriculture, and nature of its topography, it is one of the most climate change vulnerable countries.
But Bhutan’s commitment is unwavering, even as it prepares to graduate from a Least Developed Country to a Middle-Income Country, and despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, its priorities are in place. With Gross National Happiness (GNH) as its guiding development philosophy, nature, climate change and conservation are in consonance with its development agenda.
The Climate Promise made as part of the Paris Agreement is only strengthened with the country’s commitment to raise climate ambition with the formulation of 2nd Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and the first National Adaptation Plan (NAP).
NEC Chair, Lyonpo Tandi Dorji said, “While Bhutan as a small country is doing all that we can to battle climate change, I am afraid that our actions alone may not be enough. Our actions along with actions from LDCs must be supported by those who have the capacity with finances and technology. In this regard, I remain much encouraged, and note the many pledges being made towards net-zero by many developed countries across the world. Indeed, we must all work to ensure that the virtue, force, and strength of multilateralism be harnessed to speed up the process of addressing climate change.”
NEC Secretary Dasho Sonam P Wangdi said, “The fact that we have all come together to work on this reemphasizes the need for action from everyone on climate change.
“Bhutan as the Chair of the Least Developed Countries under the UNFCCC has been leading the 46 LDCs on climate change. We are the most vulnerable yet we have been insignificant in causing the problem. So the LDCs have been calling for scaling up of ambitions on climate change because for us, resolving this problem is a matter of our survival.”
Resident Representative of UNDP Azusa Kubota said, “As for our humble contributions, UNDP in Bhutan has been privileged to support the Royal Government in advancing climate actions. We firmly believe in the power of science and data in formulating strategies and policies. Therefore, we sincerely hope that Bhutan’s next Nationally Determined Contributions will raise its benchmark, based on Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS), National Adaptation Plan (NAP), sustainable climate financing, while being in full alignment with the country’s ambition towards its green recovery from the pandemic and the 21st Century economic development.”
“Please know that our commitment goes directly to the communities. So far, we have jointly implemented adaptation projects through the NAPA and the climate adaptation in agriculture sector, funded by the Green Climate Fund. We are also committed to supporting mitigation and nature-based solutions, the examples being the promotion of electric vehicles to realize a low emission transport system in Bhutan and the upcoming eco-tourism project which will demonstrate nature-based solution at the grassroots. Water will remain our central focus. With support from the GEF-LDCF funding, we will be supporting the local communities to adapt to the ever-increasing climate-induced water problems.”
The Climate Series comes during the "super year for nature” and ahead of COP26 scheduled in November in Glasgow, Scotland. It aims to bring to the fore Bhutan's climate voices and actions, as countries are expected to ramp up support for accelerated actions towards the goal of limiting global temperature rise to below 2 degree Celsius, or preferably below 1.5 degree Celsius.
Aimed at creating wider awareness on the impacts of climate change and calling for action, the National Environment Commission in partnership with UNDP, Royal University of Bhutan, Bhutan Ecological Society, Bhutan Foundation, WWF Bhutan and UNCDF launched a Climate Series titled “Raising Climate Ambition: Voices from Bhutan” on Friday, 21 May 2021.
The five-part virtual series targets both local and international audiences and run from May - October 2021. It will be organized at various locations, including institute and colleges under the Royal University of Bhutan, with COVID protocols in place and participants mostly accessing the events virtually.
Series I, which followed the launch of the Climate Series today, is themed "Witness to Warming: Local Stories, Needs and Solutions". It looked at how climate change is manifesting on the ground.
During the event, three reports were also launched:
I. Roadmap & Strategy for Strengthening Climate Change Research in Bhutan
II. Gender and Climate Change in Bhutan
III. Biodiversity User List
The upcoming Climate Series (with tentative dates) are:
Series II - Keeping the Promise: Low Carbon and Resilient Development (4 June)
Series III - Taking Stock: Climate Fairness, Capacities and Finance (6 - 7 July)
Series IV - Youth matters: Voices and Action in Climate Change (12 August)
Series V – Climate Action Week (mid-October)