Chhimi Dema

Sunspots on his face haven’t gone away yet but his tired eyes brighten as he speaks about his journey to Lunana.

Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk, 40, from Thimphu, is on a journey unlike any other. He wants to share with the world the impacts of climate change and call everyone to take urgent action.

His recent travel to Lunana was the beginning of this journey for a project campaign he calls “The Messenger-Ride for Action”.

In a picture, a filmmaker, actor and environment advocate, Jamyang sits on a rock next to his bicycle overlooking the snow-capped mountains of Lunana. At the base of the mountains are Thorthomi and Rapstreng, the two lakes that pose a serious risk of glacial lake outburst flood in the country.

“I had this idea [of the project] since the pandemic,” Jamyang says.

It was April 2020. Jamyang was attending a leadership workshop in New York. The place where he was living then was the epicentre of the pandemic and he was exposed to the virus.

“It was a scary moment. I thought the virus might kill me. During those moments, I was reflecting a lot and I asked myself what is my life’s purpose. I did not have any answer,” he says.

He pondered about his passion and what he loved.

“Out of this question came this campaign. This campaign combines everything I love – film, travel, environment, and sports,” Jamyang says.

Jamyang planned to start the campaign in 2020 but it was delayed owing to a series of lockdowns in the country.

During his campaign, he rides his bicycle. In places where he cannot ride, he carries it on his back.

He visits schools and talks to the young about climate and the need for urgent action. He inspires the youth to take action and do something with their lives in whatever sphere they want to be in. “I want to inspire them to give their best.”

The campaign

has three key messages: plant trees and take care of them, transition immediately to renewable energy, and include climate studies in the school curriculum.

The 40-year-old returned from Lunana and brought with him a bottle he found on the way filled with water from Thorthomi.

According to Jamyang, the bottle stands for plastic pollution that is rampant in the world and the glacier water represents the melting glaciers. “The bottle as a whole is symbolic of climate action.”

It took 13 days for him to go and return from Lunana.

He walked for at least eight hours for seven days to reach Thorthomi lake.

Despite the training that he received, Jamyang says that nothing can prepare one for the natural elements. “Each day it was getting tougher. It was life-threatening, especially carrying and balancing a bicycle on the back.”

Starting September 24, Jamyang is starting another campaign from Pemagatshel.

Pemagatshel is a dzongkhag dear to him.

It was in Pemagatsel that he was introduced to film and his love for nature was nurtured. “My father [a former dzongdag] on his tours would visit the villages through forests and I used to accompany him. That is when my love for nature grew. To pay homage, I want to start from Pemagatshel, a place where it all began.”

Jamyang travels with a camera and soundman. His journey will be documented.

Each episode will tackle different environmental angles in each district.

Jamyang and his team are partnering with Shangreela, an over-the-top platform in the country.

The project will cover 15 dzongkhags and he will reach Thimphu on October 24.

It has been challenging to raise funds for the project because of Covid-19, Jamyang says. “We have raised money enough to cover only 15 districts.”

The project will continue until 2030.

Jamyang says: “It is an ambitious project but I am confident, although sometimes it is overwhelming. But I will be able to do it with the right support from partners and friends.”

The team is also partnering with hotels and homestays for the travels. The project also aims to help promote the country as an eco-tourism destination.