“My country is not one big monastery populated with happy monks.”
That’s the first thing that Tshering Tobgay, the charismatic prime minister of the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan, wants you to know about his homeland.
People are forgiven for thinking otherwise. For its beautiful forests and mountains and ancient Buddhist architecture, Bhutan—a poor, isolated country sandwiched between India and China that famously measures Gross National Happiness as its main economic indicator—has been called the last Shangri-la. But the prime minister knows that perception works against Bhutan’s efforts to develop economically along a truly sustainable path that has eluded many other equally beautiful nations. In Bhutan, many people still live in poverty, youth unemployment is rising, and pressures on forests are increasing. Its total GDP, $2 billion, is half that of Springfield, Ohio. Continue reading How The Tiny, Poor Country Of Bhutan Became One Of The Most Sustainable Countries On Earth
Deep in the Himalayas, on the border between China and India, lies the Kingdom of Bhutan, which has pledged to remain carbon neutral for all time. In this illuminating talk, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay shares his country’s mission to put happiness before economic growth and set a world standard for environmental preservation.
The mountain kingdom of Bhutan may not seem an obvious place to look for lessons on addressing climate change. But on a recent visit I was impressed with how much this small country has achieved and also with its ambition. Bhutan has much to teach South Asia and the wider world. These lessons are especially relevant as the world negotiates in Paris a new pact on climate change at the International Climate Change Summit, known as COP21, which we all hope will eventually move the global economy to a low carbon and more resilient path. Continue reading Big lessons on climate change from a small country
The cats’ coming into conflict with humans is the main threat to its population in Bhutan
A preliminary snow leopard prey survey conducted recently at the Wangchuck Centennial Park using camera traps revealed several footages of snow leopards and its prey.Watch another video
The study, worth Nu 2M, World Wildlife Fund officials said would focus on the snow leopard population and their places of existence to help prioritise the best areas for conservation. Continue reading The elusive Snow Leopard caught on camera
Madrid, Spain, 21 December 2010: Nations General Assembly acknowledges role of tourism for sustainable development and poverty eradication. The United Nations General Assembly has adopted by consensus at its 65th session three separate resolutions emphasizing the role on tourism in sustainable development. The three resolutions, on the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, on the promotion of ecotourism and on the importance of sustainable tourism for Small Island Developing States stress the significance of the sector to the development agenda in terms of sustainability, employment and poverty elimination. The resolutions further welcomed the efforts and work of UNWTO in promoting sustainable tourism for poverty eradication. Continue reading Role of tourism for sustainable development & poverty eradication
Since Bhutan is predominantly a Buddhist country, policies often stem from Buddhist perception and ethics. Buddhist philosophy stresses the importance of all sentient beings and how all beings are interdependent. This notion also agrees with the scientific ecosystem theory that all species have a place and a function. The relationship between human beings and the environment is seen in a fundamentally different way as compared to the western approach. While the latter is based on the Christian instrumental view that nature exists solely for the benefit of mankind, the Buddhist concept of Sunyata (Form and Emptiness) holds that no subject or object has an independent existence; rather it dissolves into a web of relationships with all dimensions of its environment. Buddhism perceives reality as circular and not linear unlike western thought, which means human form is a part of the Karmic cycle and is really difficult to obtain, all forms are transient and therefore sustainable development is in everybody’s self interest instead of just that of the nature and future. Bhutan has never exploited it natural resources on grounds of commercial profitability. Continue reading The Buddhist Outlook & Bhutan
Koka, Wai Wai, Coke, Lays potatoes and Rockbee connoisseurs will have to find a GNH food alternative
Bhutanese consumers could soon end up paying higher rates for alcohol and foods classified as junk like carbonated drinks, potato chips, chocolates etc.
The Ministry of Finance along with its Department of Revenue and Customs are in the process of drawing up a list of alcohol and junk food products for taxation based on cabient instructions.
The Prime Minister Lyonchen Jigmi Y. Thinley in a press conference said the government had identified a list of food items as junk that would impair the health of especially children and so would be taxed higher. He gave the example of soda water.
“The new taxation policy structure, which Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu will be reporting to the National Assembly, has differentiated what constitutes healthy consumer items and what constitutes items that will accelerate the kind of problem for Bhutan associated with life style diseases,” said Lyonchen.
“When Lyonchen has said that taxation should be there on these products to discourage their use, the tax will have to be more than moderate to do so,” said Nima Wangdi, finance ministry’s director general. On the taxation structure the DG said the ministry had options of up to 150% tax.
The government and the stakeholders agree on an ambitious plan to bring in 100,000 high-end tourists by year 2012.
Bhutan will be sold as a high quality and low impact tourist destination which draws visitors throughout the year by building the necessary infrastructure, setting high benchmarks for delivery of services, diversifying products, and ensuring that its benefits reach a larger segment of the population.
The consultative meeting between the stakeholders of tourism and the government in Thimphu yesterday decided on numerous reforms that will take the industry forward in the years to come. Bhutan will be positioned as a responsible, unique, authentic and quality destination anchored on GNH philosophy with minimum negative impact on natural and cultural heritage. A nine-pronged approach will be adopted to bring in 100,000 tourists by 2012. These include developing an additional 2-3 circuits, promoting new products and defining Bhutan’s brand identity, value proposition and market to target audience. Aviation capacities will be built internationally and locally with domestic helicopter/airline services commencing soon to key destinations.
Daniel Spitzer digs into Bhutan’s soil to make a profit and sustain livelihoods
Courtesy: Article by David A. Andelman, Forbes Asia:Feb 05, 2010
Daniel Spitzer’s first shipment of 3,000 hazelnut trees arrived in Bhutan in December, each thumbnail-size and packed in 60 Pyrex petri dishes. The refrigerated plantlets headed straight for a hilltop laboratory-nursery just ten minutes from the airport. When they reach nearly 3 feet tall, they’ll be planted on a hilly tract in the remote eastern province of Mongar. Three years into the project, with six more ahead before marketable nuts begin dropping, it represents the first major foreign direct investment in Bhutan’s history and the realization of a dream the 53-year-old American entrepreneur has been nursing for three decades. Continue reading Happiness and Hazelnuts