Bhutan leads climate action in mountainous regions

Through Snowman Race and Bhutan Climate Action Summit

Choki Wangmo

Mountain ecosystems are sensitive to the impacts of climate change and are being affected at a faster rate than other terrestrial habitats.

But this vulnerable system is not at the centre of climate change debates. However, Bhutan is setting a precedent, often going it alone.

Envisioned by His Majesty The King, the Snowman Race (SMR) seeks to bring the world’s attention to climate change and its impacts on the lives of people living in fragile mountain ecosystems.

Themed “Honoring Eco-preneurs and Climate Champions”, Snowman Race Secretariat yesterday announced Bhutan Climate Action Summit, which will be held after the five-day Snowman Race in October this year.

The one-and-a-half-day summit will circle around carbon neutrality and the urgency of the climate crisis.

It is expected to bring together business leaders, governments, civil societies and academia to garner commitments and pledges of concrete actions to tackle the global climate crisis towards ensuring a sustainable world.

The summit will focus on engaging the private sector in the region and beyond, with an aim to make them an integral part of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts to galvanise global climate action.

During the summit, Bhutan would award business communities of the Asia region for their commitment to carbon neutrality. It would facilitate pledges from business leaders and multinational companies towards reducing their carbon emissions and contributing to positive climate actions.

It would also encourage sustainable business practices as a means to support the Nationally Determined Contributions and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through partnership and networking to share information, technologies and experience.

Chairperson of the SMR Secretariat, Kesang Wangdi, said that the SMR and the summit would bring the climate action at the forefront to address climate change impact faced by people living in the mountains.

“It will bring people together and work on how best the government organisations, non-governmental organisations and other agencies can identify climate actions in the national and global levels,” Kesang Wangdi said.

“It is not Bhutan-centric and will involve people from different regions for collective and coherent action,” he added.

The summit is expected to raise an innovative climate action fund to increase resilience and climate adaptation in Bhutan’s highlands and secure commitments from business leaders, partner countries and institutions.

Resident Representative for UNDP Bhutan, Azusa Kubota, said that Snowman Race in itself was symbolic and representative of climate race which translated climate change message and awareness into reality. “When a tiny carbon neutral mountain Kingdom takes action, it will inspire global movement on climate change.”

Twenty renowned international athletes and Bhutan’s five top athletes will run the 300km SMR through some of the toughest and dangerous trekking routes in the world.

This year is considered a super policy year globally for the planet and the people; 2020 marks the start of a ‘Decade of Action’ to meet the SDGs and drive climate action.

It also marks the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

This year is also a Super Year for biodiversity.

Kesang Wangdi said that for Bhutan it was a super-super year because the whole SMR and the climate action summit was an offering to His Majesty The King’s 40th birth anniversary.

Representatives from local and international partner agencies, including WWF Bhutan and UN in Bhutan were present during the announcement.

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