YK Poudel

Bhutan recently hosted a two-day stocktaking conference called the “Bhutan Climate Roundtable” to assess the country’s climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

The Thimphu conference was the first of its kind in the country, demonstrating Bhutan’s commitment to addressing the pressing issue of climate change.

The conference, organised by the Department of Environment and Climate Change of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MoENR) in collaboration with the Bhutan Ecological Society at the Centre for Bhutan and GNH Studies, aimed to facilitate discussions on climate change mitigation and adaptation. It sought to establish frameworks, forge partnerships, and investigate transformative interventions to address Bhutan’s climate priorities.

Furthermore, the conference emphasised the potential for leveraging the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process, particularly at the upcoming COP-28.

Sonam Dargay, a representative from the Department of Environment and Climate Change, emphasised the importance of climate action strategies for both adaptation and mitigation. Bhutan’s carbon neutral declaration at COP15 in 2009 was a significant first step in this direction.

“With this declaration, Bhutan pledged that its emissions would not exceed the country’s sequestration capacity,” Sonam Dargay said.

Bhutan has taken a number of steps to meet this commitment, including the Climate Change Policy 2020, Low Emission Development Strategies, Carbon Market Rules 2023, climate finance initiatives, and the Clean Development Mechanism, among others. Bhutan has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Singapore and has received expressions of interest from Japan in pursuit of carbon market mechanisms.

Sonam Dargay emphasised the importance of collaboration among working agencies such as the Department of Environment and Climate Change, the Department of Geology and Mines, and others. “As Bhutan transitions from a Least Developed Country (LDC), we must strategize our policies and plans to align them with our national needs, drawing on our experience, resources, and support from external agencies.”

Bhutan has been an active participant in UN climate negotiations since signing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 and formally ratifying the agreement in 1995. The ability of Bhutan to align its national policies with global climate goals is critical, as it has earned the country significant political capital and credibility.

The conference drew more than 50 participants from the government, private sector, civil society organisations, and youth organisations. This diverse representation demonstrates the country’s dedication to encouraging multi-stakeholder collaboration in addressing the climate crisis. 

The conference served as an important platform for collective reflection and strategic planning as Bhutan assesses its climate action efforts and establishes priorities for a climate-resilient future. Bhutan continues to inspire and lead the global fight against climate change with its unwavering commitment to sustainable development and environmental conservation.