YK Poudel


Dubai, UAE: Gathering a pavilion-packed audience, the side event “Inspiring partnerships for sustainable financing for tiger landscapes”, took center stage at the Bhutan pavilion on December 9. The session was part of the Bhutan Pavilion at the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) in Dubai, UAE.

The session presented a takeaway of tiger conservation as untapped opportunities to achieve global climate and biodiversity goals.

Karma Tshering, secretary of Energy and Natural Resources (MoENR), highlighted that while the trajectory of tiger recovery shows promise, challenges persist.

He emphasised the sovereign reality of tigers being locally extinct in Southeast Asia, necessitating urgent revitalisation on a private basis.

“In 2010, leaders from tiger-range regions gathered to address the tiger’s population decline. A global ‘Tiger recovery adoption plan’ resulted in an increase in the tiger population from 3,200 in 2010 to about 5,000 globally in 2023,” he said.

Sonam Wangdi, chief of Nature Conservation Division, MoENR, stated that Bhutan’s decision of carbon neutrality, with 69.5 percent forest cover and rich biodiversity, comes at an economic cost.

He urged the global community to understand the happenings at the community level and support these communities. Collaborative discussions involving various agencies, according to him, would bring in more interventions with impactful outcomes.

Fred Launey, CEO of Panthera, emphasised that collaboration is the first step towards meeting the common goal. He stressed the urgency of working at all levels of societies, calling for a streamlined plan developed at a country level.

“Biodiversity is the central talk of holistic nature, species, and people. Investments and approaches must ensure benefit to the community,” he said.

A press statement from WWF Bhutan highlighted that conserving tigers helps tiger-range countries meet their global biodiversity, climate, and sustainable development commitments.

Today, climate change and biodiversity loss are pressing concerns worldwide, emphasizing the need to highlight how a sustainably funded, landscape-scale, and tiger-focused plan of action will help countries in the Asia region meet their climate commitments.

The panel members discussed challenges and suggested innovative strategies and collaborative partnerships to secure sustainable financing for preserving tiger landscapes. Tigers depend on and occur in almost all forest types in Asia.

Bhutan will host the “Sustainable Finance for Tiger Landscapes Conference” in April next year to advance tiger conservation efforts, under the patronage of Her Majesty Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck.

As the world’s largest cat and an apex predator, tigers play a vital role in the structure and function of the ecosystem on which both humans and wildlife rely.

The value of ecosystem services where tigers are present is estimated to run into trillions of dollars a year. Unfortunately, in the last 100 years, tigers have lost over 93 percent of their historic range and have become extinct in several countries in Southeast Asia.

Bhutan’s tiger population is growing at a rate of 5 percent yearly, on average, with the current population estimated at 131 individuals across the country. This is an increase of 27 percent compared with 103 in the last national tiger survey in 2015.