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11 Mar 2016 | Atmosphere Initiative

Ministerial Visits in Bhutan

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On a mid-February visit to Thimphu and the Gyelyong Tshokhang (National Assembly of Bhutan), the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development’s (ICIMOD) Dr Eklabya Sharma, Director Programme Operations and Dr Golam Rasul, Theme Leader, Livelihoods called upon Lyonpo Jigme Zangpo, Speaker of Bhutan and Dasho Sangay Duba, Secretary General, National Assembly of Bhutan. The group discussed ICIMOD’s overall work in mountain livelihoods, ecosystems, climate change, cryosphere, atmosphere and water in eight regional countries and the challenges facing the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region.

The Honourable Speaker commended ICIMOD and the role the organisation is playing  in Bhutan’s socio-economic development and environmental conservation. He also explained the challenges facing the National Assembly committees.  ‘Being a young democracy, capacity building for young Bhutanese parliamentarians is crucial’, the Honourable Speaker said.

(left to right) ICIMOD’s Dr Golam Rasul, Nisar A. Memon, Chairman, Water Environment Forum, Pakistan, ICIMOD’s Dr Eklabya Sharma, Kinzang Wangdi, Cabinet Secretary of Bhutan
Photo: Tashi Dorji/ICIMOD

Further, the Honourable Speaker suggested the formation of a working committee comprising members of the National Assembly Secretariat of Bhutan and ICIMOD to explore possible areas of collaborations. ‘ICIMOD could be instrumental in helping Bhutanese parliamentarians better understand the impacts of climate change and gender mainstreaming resulting in better policies and legislation’, he said

‘The Bhutanese farming sector is facing challenges of a labour shortage, wildlife conflicts and increasing natural disasters’, Dasho Sangay Duba, Secretary General, National Assembly of Bhutan  said. ‘Young and abled persons are migrating to towns and cities, leaving behind old, fragile and mostly women to engage in agriculture. Dasho said that ICIMOD should strengthen its role in innovative livelihoods options, supporting mountain specific policies, mainstreaming gender and climate, piloting landscape programmes, and initiating Human Resource Development through platform such as Himalayan University Consortium.

The ICIMOD team were also able to meet with Dasho Kinzang Wangdi, Cabinet Secretary of Bhutan. Dasho highlighted the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to eradicate poverty and maintained ‘the principles of sustainable development is consistent with Bhutan’s development philosophy of Gross National Happiness’. Dasho underscored the role of ICIMOD to ensure effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the HKH Region.

The ICIMOD team along with Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, Minister of Agriculture and Forest, Bhutan and Vice-Chairman of National Environment Commission (NEC) of Bhutan visited the Air Quality Observatory in Thimphu. Lyonpo commended ICIMOD for their support and installation of state-of-the-art air quality monitoring stations at strategic locations in Bhutan and for training NEC staff in station management.

The team also met with Phub Tshering, Secretary General, Bhutan Chambers of Commerce and Industries (BCCI). Tshering was appreciative of ICIMOD’s support in promoting kiwi as high value crop in Bhutan. The kiwi saplings and training led to rapid uptake of kiwi farming in Bhutan.

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