Award: Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay is one of the honorary laureates for the prestigious German Sustainability Award (GSA) 2016 for his outstanding contributions in promoting sustainability in Bhutan.

Lyonchoen was awarded at an event organised by the German Sustainability Award Foundation in Dusseldorf, Germany yesterday evening.

Speaking at the German sustainability Day before the award ceremony, Lyonchoenpaid tribute to the leadership of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, who at a young age of 17 years envisioned the protection and preservation of Bhutan’s environment as a national priority long before sustainability and environmental issues featured on the global agenda.

Lyonchoen said that His Majesty The King continues to further this legacy. Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen also continues to support Bhutan’s conservation legacy with her role as the UNEP Ozone Ambassador and the Royal Patron of the Environment in Bhutan.

He also said that age-old traditional Bhutanese customs and spiritual beliefs of peaceful co-existence with nature and Bhutan’s long term commitment to protecting the environment for Bhutan and the world continues to define the success of maintaining pristine ecosystems across the country.

Lyonchoen highlighted the challenges Bhutan faced from climate change and the serious risk it poses to the Bhutanese economy, which is critically reliant on hydropower generated by its network of pristine rivers. He said Bhutan has unconditionally self-imposed an ambitious commitment to remain carbon neutral in perpetuity and he said it was his hope that Bhutan’s actions would inspire leaders around the world to address climate change more seriously.

On the impact of Bhutan’s environmental policies, especially with the issue of Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC), Lyonchoen, speaking to Kuensel, said that sustainability is about balance.

“We can’t tip the balance so far to one side that rural life becomes unbearable. Rural life, particularly farming is a very importance part of our narrative and we have to make it more comfortable. This is why we take HWC very seriously,” Lyonchoen said. “Right now one of the strongest measures is the use of electric fencing and its proving to be very effective”.

The other honorary laureates for GSA 2016 include UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon,  Charles Aznavour, an Armenian singer and American actor Nicholas Cage.

Past German Sustainability Award laureates include Queen Silvia of Sweden, HRH Prince Charles of Wales, Dr. Gro Harlem Bruntdland, former Prime Minister of Norway, Dr. Horst Köhler, former President of Germany, Mr Antonio Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal and the UN Secretary General-designate amongst others.

The GSA was instituted in 2008 to inspire decision makers in the public and private sectors to advocate for ecological and social sustainability and are awarded to government leaders, celebrities, cities and towns and leading global companies. The GSA is one the largest events of its kind in Europe attracting more than 2,000 guests every year.

Rinzin Wangchuk | Dusseldorf