Bhutan Addressed Climate Change Concerns With Foreign Delegates At The 14th Round Table Meeting


Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering said at the Round Table Meeting that climate change is real and efforts must be made to reduce its impact.

(Source: Facebook/Wind of Fortune)


By Sonam Yangdon The Bhutanese

During the inaugural ceremony of the 14th Round Table Meeting (RTM) held in Thimphu from 12-14 March, Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering reiterated that climate change is real and efforts must be made to reduce its impact, given Bhutan’s vulnerability.

Similarly, discussions and commitments from Bhutan’s developing partners and donors during the 2-day long Round Table Meeting revolved around climate change and the need for climate financing to realise the theme of the event - Enhancing happiness and sustainable development through partnerships.

Impact of Climate change on Bhutan’s eligibility to graduate from the Least Developed Country (LDC) status

In this regard, the government informed the partners and donors that in order to ensure that Bhutan’s developmental achievements are not put off-track by the adverse impacts of climate change, priority will be given to build national and innovative capacity to understand climate change pathways more intricately among the sectors.

There are also plans in the pipeline to develop local solutions and to secure the investments required to deal with climate change impacts.



During the 14th Round Table Meeting hosted by the Royal Government of Bhutan held from 12-14 March 2019 in Thimphu, a panel discussion on Gross National Happiness was conducted. The lively discussion was moderated by Dasho Karma Tshiteem, Chairperson of the Royal Civil Service Commission.

Source: Youtube/14th RTM


For a country to be eligible for graduation from the Least Developed Country (LDC) status, the graduation threshold for two out of three LDC identification criteria must be met. The criteria are: Per capita Gross National Income (GNI), the Human Assets Index (HAI), and Economic Vulnerability Index.

While Bhutan has already met the two identified criteria (GNI and HAI) consecutively during the two triennial meetings, it has not fulfilled the Economic Vulnerability Index. To make it more challenging, climate change poses a great threat in achieving EVI.

Why is Bhutan so susceptible to the adverse impact of Climate change?

Thinley Namgyel, the Secretary of the Gross National Happiness Commission presented that Bhutan’s economic vulnerabilities are increased even more due to its special vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate change.

“Despite its sustainable development approach, events such as glacial lake outburst floods, flash floods, landslides, windstorms, forest fires, extreme drought and severe fluctuations in seasonal weather patterns pose looming threats for its highly nature-dependent livelihoods and its hydropower and agricultural-based economy.”

Thinley Namgyel informed the delegates that Bhutan has 677 glaciers and 2794 glacial lakes. The country has experienced 21 glacial Lake Outburst floods in the last 2 centuries, of which 4 outbursts have been reported in the last forty years.


The biggest climate related threat in Bhutan is the Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF). GLOF takes place in heavily glaciered mountain regions and are triggered by natural forces, such as heavy rains, landslides, avalanches and earthquakes. The government has initiated numerous structural measures to reduce the possibility of future GLOF incidents. Measures such as draining of lake levels, installation of early warning systems, and building river protection embankments have been initiated.



Bhutan also lies in the seismic zone IV and V which makes the country susceptible to earthquakes.

Speaking at the RTM during a panel discussion on climate and disaster resilient development, the agriculture minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor said that the climate change impacts in the country are evident from the invasive plants and pests found – a recent phenomenon.

Bhutan takes constructive steps to address the impact of Climate change

“Bhutan which is highly dependent on agriculture, hydropower for revenue generation, and limited landlocked economic transition, is challenged by the climate change impacts. We have tried our best to set an example to the world and placed high importance to address the impacts of climate change. The policies and laws, including the 12th Five Year Plan, are all set for low emission climate resilient development,” said Lyonpo Yeshey.

He added that framing such laws and policies to mitigate the impacts of climate change in the country comes with a cost - extra efforts and foregoing numerous economic opportunities.

In addition, Bhutan’s policies will have to go through its Gross National Happiness policy screening tool which is very environmentally-sensitive. Therefore, with such stringent policies in place, it impedes the country’s economic growth.

Some of the challenges Bhutan face in addressing climate change issues in the country include: limited technical know-how, financial constraints and limited human capacity among others.

After a clear-cut presentation on Bhutan’s economic vulnerability due to climate change and the devastating impacts it can have on the country, many donors and partners re-affirmed their support.

New investment avenues can be explored in addition to the existing partnerships to enhance mitigation efforts and to ensure sustainable development under the Gross National Happiness philosophy.

“Our pursuit of socio-economic development is delicately balanced with a strong focus on environmental conservation. We are too small in physical size to make any impact globally when it comes to climate change measures. In this regard, Bhutan requires the support of the international community, as the impacts of climate change have no physical boundaries,” the Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering appealed to the delegates.


This article first appeared in The Bhutanese and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.


Related Posts

'Bhutan Dialogues' Goes Global To Discuss Issues Concerning...

Bhutan Dialogues is a forum where leaders and change-makers can talk about policies, issues, challenges and solutions...

Feb 22, 2019 23:01

Climate Across Curriculum - Teaching Materials Developed In...

Though resources developed at the workshop are based on local context, it can be accessed by teachers all over the...

Feb 20, 2019 14:45

Students From Remote Lunana Learned Skills Such As Aikido,...

The winter camp included educational programs, arts and crafts, games and sports events.

Jan 20, 2019 07:44

One Third Of The Hindu Kush Himalayan Glaciers Could Melt By End...

Bhutan will see a rise in temperature higher than the regional average of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

Feb 13, 2019 17:56

Orange Trees Climb Higher in Bhutan with Climate Change

“Since the upper altitude regions are bearing more oranges than lower altitude regions, we believe it’s due to the...

Mar 25, 2018 21:13

Carbon Negative Bhutan Strives To Maintain Its Status As The...

The mountainous state absorbs three times more carbon dioxide than it emits, thanks mainly to the lush forests covering...

Oct 12, 2018 17:36



Government Of Bhutan Injects Nu 1 Billion To Kick-start Organic Flagship Programme

To export a product as an organic, it will be certified only after proper laboratory tests have been conducted.

Jul 12, 2019 21:48

Bhutan Known For Its Commitment And Dedication To The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation

Bhutan has a very 'good standing' among the member states of the SAARC.

Jul 07, 2019 22:59


Bhutan’s Commitment To Maintain Its Carbon Negative Status And Rich Biodiversity

The land where Bhutan is located has an exceptional concentration of endemic species.

Jul 15, 2019 23:38

Honouring Guru Rinpoche And His Lasting Legacy In Bhutan On His Birthday

The birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche falls on 11 July 2019 in Bhutan.

Jul 11, 2019 21:28


Bhutan’s Dragon Boys Starts FIFA World Cup Qualifiers With A 1-0 Win Over Guam

Midfielder, Tshering Dorji’s 35th minute strike was enough to make Bhutan win the first leg of the first round of the 2022 World Cup and...

Jun 08, 2019 22:18

Meet Choki Om – First Woman From Bhutan To Become A FIFA Referee

Originally from the district of Wangdue, Choki has already been a referee for over a decade.

May 16, 2019 20:58


Celebrating Bhutan's Entrepreneurs: Kunzang Choki Of Junction Bookstore, Thimphu

This story is part of an exclusive feature by Yeewong Magazine in Dec 2018 on celebrating entrepreneurship in Bhutan.

Jul 13, 2019 19:59

Celebrating Bhutan's Entrepreneurs: Kinley Zangmo Of CWang Mushrooms

This story is part of an exclusive feature by Yeewong Magazine in Dec 2018 on celebrating entrepreneurship in Bhutan.

Jul 10, 2019 22:38


Discover The 'Almost Medieval' Charm Of Haa - A Well Kept Secret Of Bhutan

Urbanisation has not touched Haa fully yet.

Jul 14, 2019 22:12

Applying Buddhist Values in Life: Discover Happiness In Bhutan Through Meditation

His Eminence Khedrupchen Rinpoche speaks about a workshop that tourists can partake in to apply Buddhist concepts into work.

Jun 21, 2019 12:35


French Designer Christian Louboutin Releases Bhutan-inspired Shoe Collection

Bhutan’s rich craftsmanship inspired the designer’s latest collection.

Jul 06, 2019 08:53

An Exciting Line-Up Of Speakers To Be Featured In Bhutan’s Mountain Echoes Festival 2019

Themed ‘Many Lives, Many Stories’ - the festival, according to the press release, will mark its 10th anniversary with modern Bhutanese...

Jun 25, 2019 21:28

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!