The government and UNDP Global Environment Facility (GEF)-Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) launched a project called Enhancing Sustainability and Climate Resilience of Forests and Agriculture Landscape and Community Livelihoods in Bhutan on November 11 in Thimphu to enhance climate resilience and biodiversity conservation.

Senior programme officer of Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), Pema Bazar, said that the project would work in both protected areas and dzongkhags.

The project, which will span for about six years covering 12 dzongkhags, 38 gewogs, four biological areas, and three protected areas, is the country’s first integrated initiative designed to support interconnected Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) such as life on land, climate action, and poverty eradication. It will begin from the third week of November this year.

Chief executive officer of GEF, Naoko Ishii, said that the project would work with communities to strengthen agricultural and livestock management to be climate resilient through a range of sustainable land management interventions. “It will support improvement and diversification of household incomes and significantly improve farmer’s market access in rural communities.”

UNDP’s resident representative, Gerald Daly, said that the project is third in a trilogy of successful partnerships between UNDP, GEF and the government in implementing Bhutan’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA).

The project will invest in adaptation measures, including climate resilient irrigation and road design, crop diversification, creation of biodiversity and conservation-oriented jobs, enhanced markets and market accessibility, and sustainable land management.

To help formulate the project and design appropriate interventions, assessment focusing on aspects, such as women empowerment, social gender, climate change, marketing, value addition, biological corridors, and human wildlife conflict among others were conducted.

The project will also complement Bhutan for Life, which would focus on working in four biological corridors through climate adaptive conservation plans, improved governance, and improving the lives of people who live in and around the corridors and adjoining parks.

GEF Trust Fund for Sustainable Forest Management Incentive Fund, the GEF Trust Fund for Biodiversity and Land Degradation, and the GEF-LDCF, funded 13.9 million USD for the project.

Rinchen Zangmo