Thinley Namgay  

Under-representation of youth in the decision-making process regarding climate-related policies is one of the issues in the country, climate advocates say.

They said that there is a need for more consultations with youth and better platforms for them to carry Bhutan’s efforts beyond the borders.

More than 46 percent of Bhutan’s population is below the age of 25 as per the census record of 2022. The advocates said that this section of the population has the potential to shape the narrative of major climate policies that the country is pursuing today.

The lack of opportunities and resources are the major hurdles to sharing their views, experiences, and plans to tackle climate change according to panellists at the Paro Forum on Climate Justice for Happiness that ended last week.

Panellist Namgay Choden from the Global Shapers said that the inclusion of young people in systemic change is crucial.  “Good public policy is needed, and youth must possess relevant skills and knowledge to challenge key decisions.”

Namgay Choden said that due to the lack of opportunity, there is a growing perception among youths that decision-making is only for the decision-makers.

“Relevant stakeholders should work with young people to carry out Bhutan’s legacy as a climate champion,” Namgay Choden said, adding that Bhutan’s status as a carbon-negative country is at risk considering the country’s consumption and emission.

Another panellist and Travel vlogger Tshering Denkar said that climate change is apparent today. “What’s happening in mountains owing to receding glaciers and rising temperatures is worrying.”

Tshering Denkar said that on her journey towards the base of Gangkar Puensum from Bumthang she saw that the source of Chamkhar chhu is drying up. “I was told by the nomads that the place used to be full of rivers in the past.  Now it just looks like a landslide-prone zone with a few tributaries.”

Deki Yangzom from Tarayana Foundation said that besides scientific knowledge, youths should also understand the indigenous perception of climate change as an alternative.

She said youths today are not familiar with evidence-driven activities such as research. Moreover, she said a climate-related curriculum is needed in schools and colleges.

A young vlogger Kuenga Rinchen Dradhul, who is a class IV student at Gyalpoizhing HSS said climate change is worrying.

He said, “I talked with elder people in Gyalpoizhing and they told me that the place wasn’t as hot as it is today. This tempted me to create my Facebook page to create awareness.”

He said that climate change is creating an imbalance in the natural ecosystem. “We must act fast.”