YK Poudel

Youth advocates highlighted the concerns of erratic rainfall patterns, retreating glaciers, glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) and increase in temperature among others at the third Climate Action Champions Network (CACN) convention held in Dubai recently.

The regional discourse attended by over 100 participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and experts from regional countries discussed the threats of climate change and its impact.

The participants presented and discussed the geo-political issues faced by mountainous countries like Bhutan and Nepal that affects till the mangroves growing southern plains of Sri Lanka.

Tshering Tobgay, research officer at the Royal Society for Protection of Nature, said that the increasing temperature has risked Bhutan’s vulnerability to GLOFs and flash floods. 

“Increasing GLOF and flash floods is a severe threat to Bhutan as  the country’s economy relies on hydro-power, the majority of the settlements and agricultural lands are along the river,” he said. “A  GLOF in Bhutan will severely damage infrastructure which are not disaster-resilient along with lives and properties.”

The regional discourse, he said, allowed the participants to learn about the challenges faced by South Asian countries, the actions taken, adaptation and mitigation strategies and financing scopes.

Tshering Denkar, a social media influencer (Denkar’s Getaway) raised concerns of rural communities and livestock impacted from increasing cases of GLOF and flash floods.

“GLOF, flash flood and climate change is a timely, if not a late discussion. Bhutan is facing the brunt of climate change,” she said. “Bhutan’s negative carbon contribution is acknowledged, but when it comes to taking accountability and climate financing the support provided is not adequate.”

Denkar’s Getaway reported mountainous communities losing their properties and livestock to climate change impact. “Not much has been done to include the local communities in the discussion and support their livelihood,” she said.

The responsibility, she said, to meet global climate goals falls not solely on world leaders and policy makers, but on all agencies, with youth playing a crucial role.


While climate neutrality, climate and disaster resilience are identified in the six key areas of focus in the 12th Plan, the focus of GLOF and related issues aren’t a priority for Bhutan in the Nationally Determined Contributions, 2021.

Temperature increase, erratic rainfall pattern and timing, hydro-meteorological and geological disasters are some of the major climate change induced issues in Bhutan.

Bhutan has faced over 21 GLOF and frequent landslides damaging agricultural land, lives and properties. Bhutan and the Himalayan countries, under the projected future deglaciating scenario, are identified to face increasing GLOF and flash flood issues over the decades. A research study in 2023 found the Punatsangchhu basin with 17 gewogs vulnerable to GLOF and related threats.

As per National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM) 2019 update, Bhutan has 17 potentially dangerous lakes. Regionally, the Hindu Kush Himalayas region is home to the largest ice reserves outside the polar regions, supporting 10 major rivers. These rivers sustain about 240 million people in the mountains and more than 1.6 billion downstream—who are at a high risk of climate hazards.

Although NCHM continuously monitors glacial lakes and provides weather forecasts and advisories, and has early warning systems in place through its 234 stations, the human resource constraints, awareness and funding are the main challenges.

The State of Climate in Asia report 2023, states that Bhutan scores better in observation and forecasting. However, the score is low on warning, dissemination of information and preparedness to disasters.

Bhutan is the 38th most vulnerable to climate change threats, while it stands 62nd in its preparedness.

Last year, the Asia-Pacific region suffered from multiple extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change. About 79 hydro-met related disasters occurred resulting in over 2000 fatalities.


The secretary of the Energy and Natural Resources ministry, Karma Tshering, stressed the need for immediate and robust global action to address the escalating climate crisis at the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28). The Mountain Agenda got adopted by the member parties.

Developing and implementing early warning systems for GLOF risk reduction should include risk knowledge, monitoring and warning, dissemination and communication, and response capability.

In 2023, Asian Development Bank (ADB) committed USD 1.2 billion through technical assistance and loan towards climate and disaster risk management. Of which 9.8 billion was streamlined to climate finance. ADB also launched the Climate Change Action Plan, 2023-2030 at COP28 for actions hereafter.