Bhutan Dialogues

Welcome to your UN House and to the 6th session of Bhutan Dialogues.

As you  would  have known by now, Bhutan Dialogues is an open space for dynamic conversations on issues of national interest and with the objective to listen, share and refine our ideas in pursuit of social progress. Our Theme for today is Bhutan Climate Action.

In line with the topic, let me briefly share some points for climate action.

  • Climate change is real and it’s happening now. Most of us know that the earth is getting hotter, but do we really understand its causes or its impacts?
  • Climate change is, quite literally, change in the climate because of the increase in the average global temperature. Increase in the greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere (CO2 in particular) are trapping heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. This impacts on global weather systems everything from unexpected rainfall to extreme heatwaves.
  • We must all recognize the fact that Bhutan became the world’s first carbon negative country. Bhutan produces 1.5 million tonnes of carbon every year, but thanks to the country’s 72 per cent forest coverage, more than 6 million tonnes of carbon is absorbed.
  • Climate change is hitting developing countries the hardest, even though they have contributed the least to its causes. Droughts, floods, rising sea levels, and extreme weather disasters are causing food shortages, destroying homes, and claiming lives in some of the poorest places in the world.
  • It is small developing countries like Bhutan who will face the ill effects of climate change the most.
  • However, Bhutan is no exception when it comes to the impacts of climate change.
  • Bhutan, over the years, like many other countries, has seen an increase in landslides due to heavier rainfall. Bhutan’s weather stations show a rise in temperature of about 1 degree C in summer and 2 degrees in winter since 2000.
  • Recent studies show a reduction in irrigation water availability in some areas. Other global warming effects – shifting precipitation patterns, changing growing zones, more severe weather, worsening of air and water pollution and water scarcity — are surely on the increase.
  • For now, glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) threat is Bhutan’s strongest climate challenge for now.
  • Just a few years ago, one would not see people using mask to cover their mouth every time they stepped out of the comfort of their homes. But today, if you take a stroll along the Norzin Lam, you will see quite a handful of people wearing it.
  • It surely means, the climate is changing. It means that there is something wrong with the climate and the people are feeling and experiencing it.
  • It is unimaginable what might happen in ten years from now if we do not take action to curb the effects of climate change.
  • No country in the world can get away from experiencing the drastic effects of climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, and are now more than 50 percent higher than their 1990 level. Further, global warming is causing long-lasting changes to our climate system, which threatens irreversible consequences if we do not take action now.
  • Our planet’s ability to sustain life is incredible, and if we act now, we can protect it for our future generations.

During the course of the conversation today, we will discuss these issues more in-depth and share our views.

Our host for today is Dr. Karma Phuntsho from Loden Foundation.

  • Karma is like an onion. Every time you research on him, there is something new and interesting to learn about him. Like each layer of an onion, Dr. Karma gets more exciting.
  • Could it be true that Dr. Karma speaks eleven languages? And could it be true that Dr. Karma has 1,500 followers on social media?

Our guest speaker is Hendrick Visser from the Netherlands.

  • Hendrick is a Dutch civil engineer and a sociologist. His key areas of expertise are Sustainable Development approaches, Climate Change, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene behavior (WaSH), Agricultural development, Community Rural Infrastructure Development. Local Governance strengthening and local planning processes and many more.
  • He is currently an Independent Consultant and Director for International Fund for Agricultural Development Programme (IFAD).
  • He is the founder of Bhutan Animal Rescue and Care (BARC), a civil society organization (CSO) which works for the happy co-existence of animals and humans in the country. Currently they shelter 320 dog, 12 cats and 27 macaque monkeys at its rescue center in Yusipang.

If I may suggest everyone present here today to keep their keeps questions short and to the point. However, I assure you that the longer questions will not go home unanswered. If you have longer questions to ask, please feel free to catch hold of our speakers over a cup of tea after the session.

After tea, I would like to invite people to come back in here to raise the game. We can answer your questions, have a discussion or simply just talk to eachother.

Last but not the least if you all could kindly suggest me the names of the speakers you would like to hear for the next Bhutan Dialogues session.

May I please request each one of you to please turn off your phone or put it on silent mode. Let us take a quarter of a minute to do it right away.

Lastly without further ado, let us now commence with our program.

Kadinchey and Tashi Delek.

Opening statement by Gerald Daly, UN Resident Coordinator

Bhutan Dialogues (6th Session)

Venue: UN House, Kawajangsa, Thimphu

Date: March 8, 2018


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