YK Poudel

Besides the 15 ongoing projects worth US Dollar 12 million, the Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (BTFEC) said it would fund projects worth USD 2 million each year. 

For this, the BTFEC, an autonomous grant-making organisation accredited by the Green Climate Fund and Adaptation Fund, accepted proposals from both government and private agencies to support activities to promote social welfare through environment conservation.  

“Last year we received over 90 proposals and we encourage more projects to be proposed that benefit the society and nature conservation for annual grants,” said the Managing Director of the BTFEC, Karma Tshering (PhD).

“The BTFEC was established to secure a mechanism for sustainable financing for the preservation of the country’s biodiversity, promoting social welfare and environmental conservation,” he said. 

The BTFEC, one of the oldest organisations in Bhutan, is the world’s first environmental trust fund—a collaborative venture between the Royal Government of Bhutan, the United Nations Development Program, and World Wildlife Fund. 

It had funded over 241 environmental projects amounting to over USD 30 million since its inception on March 6, 1991. Its donors included the World Wildlife Fund, Global Environment Facility, Green Climate Fund, and the governments of Bhutan, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.

“For any project, we look into collaboration among the agencies. Currently, we are engaging with various Civil Society Organizations to make them aware of the areas through which they can propose and the amount they can access as grants,” Karma Tshering said.

Chief Programme Officer of BTFEC,  Kinley Tshering, said that BTF generates income from its endowment fund of over  USD 20 million initially raised from multilateral and bilateral networks. 

“The endowment has grown to approximately USD 72 million—80 percent is invested in global financial markets and 20 percent in the Bhutanese financial market,” Kinley Tshering said. 

According to him, there are two categories of accessing grants: large grants up to Nu 15 million; to be done within three years and small grants up to four hundred thousand, to be done within a year.

“BTFEC is in the process of tapping into three major projects worth USD 25 million,” he said.

His Royal Highness the Gyaltshab Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Leytshog Lopon Sangay Dorji, and senior government officials attended the inauguration of the Secretariat of BTFEC yesterday. 

The construction of the building started in 2020 with a budget allocation of Nu 113 million—which will be shared between Health Trust Fund, Bhutan for Life and BTFEC.