As we near 2020, we talk about the implications of new technologies and international relations due to rapid and unchecked radicalisation of politics. Trade wars and rogue diplomacy between the richer and stronger economies are threatening not only national prosperity. They are disturbing world peace and order altogether. But the world, and each country individually, is increasingly facing a different truth today—climate change. It is in this perspective that credible leadership and united efforts is more than just necessary.
We are now in the age of new technological revolution. A structural shift is happening already in the more sensitive sectors. Inequality and joblessness stand to rise if governments fail to intervene urgently. In a way, in Bhutan, we are already facing these modern challenges. And they will only grow. The proliferation of new technologies and their impact on the economy is already pushing people to the fringes. Today, in the richer countries especially, more and more people are forced to come out on the streets. These are indications of the governments failing the people and the repercussions could be serious in the long term.
Bhutan is not too late to act. The country has been a climate and environment leader, but lack of concerted global action against climate change will affect the way we live. We are already facing the threats in their multiple forms. Worse, we are not even thinking concretely about preparing for the varied manifestations of climate change and their impact on the people, particularly in the poorer communities. The failure to make climate change the central issue of this century must be owned by both powerful and less powerful countries. Even that will not be enough, because the time is running out.
The fight against climate change now looks increasingly like a losing battle. It is so upon individual society to fend itself against the wrath of unpredictable change in weather patterns. That means investing in research and planning the more because the impact of climate change is wide-ranging—biodiversity loss to food to jobs and much more. Governments and economies may disagree when it comes to fighting climate change, but waiting for someone to lead is at best counsel of despair. Looking in and acting promptly, therefore, is the only option we have.
The vital question so is: how is Bhutan preparing to face climate change? The first area to look into could be agriculture and then the climate-induced disasters. We are not faring well in both. Due to small landholding agricultural productivity is small, which is further handicapped by rising rural-urban migration. As to how we can keep climate-induced disasters at bay, we do not even have a reliable plan. When officials and agencies responsible still can’t find a way to collaborate, there is a problem. The future looks grim.