A workshop on environmental adjudication for the judiciary of Bhutan, recommended awareness programmes, need to include climate change in the education curriculum, strengthening coordination among stakeholders, and capacity building to combat climate change in the country.

An official from NEC said that there is a need for awareness on climate change at the community level. “We also lack capacity and resources to implement the strategies. Including climate change in the curriculum is something we would like to focus in the future.”

Although Bhutan does not have a climate change law, a climate change policy that is being drafted is expected to specify the roles and responsibilities of the sectors.

An NEC official said that climate change affect water resources, health and agriculture, among others. “Due to climate change the hydrological cycle has also changed in the country. The concentration of CO2 has also increased from 28.7 GT in 1970 to 49 GT in 2004.”

Records show that global atmospheric concentration of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide have increased remarkably as a result of human activities since 1750. About 56 percent of CO2 comes from fossil fuels and about 17 percent from deforestation, biomass, and decay.

An official from NEC said that to combat climate change Bhutan had declared to remain carbon neutral and pledged to maintain a minimum of 60 percent forest coverage for all times to come. She said that the country developed sectorial low emission development strategies and emphasised green growth.

Bhutan ratified UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Kyoto Protocol in 1997, and Paris Agreement in 2015.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk said the Constitution mandates that each generation had the right to inherit and have equitable access to the use and benefits of the same diversity and abundance of the natural resources enjoyed by the previous generations. “A strong independent, transparent, and well-resourced judiciary is imperative to protect the environment. Judges and courts have the capacity to directly influence environmental protection.”

The workshop will also discuss tribunal best practices in terms of environmental and climate change.

The two-day workshop that is being attended by lawyers, judges, registrars and officials from National Environment Commission (NEC) will end today.

The workshop also had representatives from organisations such as Asian Development Bank, UN Environment, and US Environmental Protection Agency. The experts from these organisations shared experiences and cases of environmental and climate change adjudication.

Phurpa Lhamo