Environment: The agriculture ministry and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) organised the Bhutan Country Consultation in Thimphu yesterday to create a platform for Bhutan and ICIMOD to decide priorities and emerging contexts of Bhutan and ICIMOD.

The Bhutan–ICIMOD consultation – Emerging Opportunities and Priorities for Sustainable Mountain Development in the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region – is also aimed to create a platform for Bhutan and the centre to revisit existing partnerships, determine areas of collaborative action of mutual and regional significance and to explore ideas to strengthen partnerships.

The key outputs would include consolidated priorities for ICIMOD’s next Medium Term Action Plan (MTAP) IV from 2018 -22.

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said that the country consultations to set ICIMODs priorities for the next five years is a good tool to ensure that ICIMOD continues to address the issues and challenges of its member countries.

Lyonpo said that the Bhutan country consultation for ICIMOD’s MTAP IV is of particular interest for Bhutan as it coincides with the 12th Five Year Plan Period in Bhutan. “We are currently in the process of setting the priorities for the 12th Plan based on the emerging issues and challenges that Bhutan is facing.”

As an intergovernmental organisation with a regional mandate, capitalising on its achievements and emerging opportunities in the region, ICIMOD conducts country consultations in the preparation of the Medium-Term Action Plan (MTAP) IV. ICIMOD’s work is periodically revised and translated into a five-year road map called the MTAP.

Based on this five-year plan, annual plans containing more specific activities will be developed each year.

Lyonpo said that while the poverty level in Bhutan has been more than halved over the past Plan period, the multidimensional poverty index revealed that 12.7 percent of the Bhutanese population still fall below the threshold in terms of health, education and living standards.

Despite Bhutan’s achievements in environmental conservation having earned global commendations, the country has been a victim of natural disasters, some of which are attributed to climate change.

Youth issues like unemployment, crime rates and vulnerability to negative impacts of developments are of a concern to the country. These are some of the issues that Lyonpo highlighted.

Eradicating poverty and reducing inequality, promoting gender equality, maintaining a healthy eco-system and carbon neutral and climate resilient development, enhancing economic diversity and productive capacities and ensuring water, food and nutrition security, among others, are some of the key elements of the objective of the 12th Plan, Lyonpo said. “These key elements are of direct relevance to ICIMOD’s mandate and its efforts.”

The ongoing partnership with ICIMOD in various fields including adaptation to change, transboundary landscape programmes, study of cryosphere, meteorology and water resource, geospatial solution application, improving ecosystem management, Himalayan university consortium would go a long way in contributing to meet the goals and objectives of Bhutan’s 12th Plan, Lyonpo said.

The first ever information, education communication (IEC) material on climate change including posters, leaflets and a hand book on Climate + Change, produced jointly by ICIMOD and Bhutan Media and Communications Institute with funding from the European Union were inaugurated on November 20.

More than thirty participants including officials from government agencies, non-governmental organisations, academic and research institutions, and representatives of the private sectors participated in the two-day consultation meeting at Le Meridien in Thimphu.

Dechen Tshomo