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Bhutan and its Foreign Policy in Response to Environment and Climate Change

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Environment and climate change is a concerning issue in Bhutan. Climate change has become one of the twenty first century’s important and debated environmental issues in both, national and international forums. They have been discussions regarding climate change and environmental deterioration as a cause of insecurity. The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan which is a land locked country is also working tirelessly to overcome such issues and one of the climate policies of the country is to remain carbon neutral. Climate change is not only an environmental issue but also a serious challenge to sustainable development of the country and livelihood of people. However, the environment of Bhutan is considered as pure and clean in the world. About 72 percent of the country is covered with forest and the people are dependent on agriculture. The environment and climate change is already taking place and our country is also facing lots of challenges. However, Bhutan has made policies with the foreign countries to safeguard the pristine environment which is considered as jewel of the country. The foreign policy of the country is made in such a way that it will follow the changing contours of international policies to preserve and promote the national interest. Therefore, in this essay I will mainly talk about how strategies provided by foreign countries are enforced, the benefits gained from foreign policy and lastly, how it helped in maintaining Bhutan’s relationship with foreign countries.

By being the country with carbon neutral and green environment, many foreign policies are implemented to maintain same sprite. Starting from the evolution of the contemporary world and human being, many revolutions has taken place which resulted in the heavy usage of natural resources. If such activity continues without any measures to utilize those resources, then sooner or later, there seems to evolve lots of consequences that would shatter the humanity. Bhutan is a developing country and many parts of its environment have remained green. So, country like Bhutan puts extra effort to maintain the same status. So, in order to protect the untouched environment, one policy that Bhutan regulates in line with foreigners is the ‘High Value Low Impact’ policy, enforced by the tourism sector (Dorji, 2001). Through this policy the number of tourist visiting Bhutan is reduced due to heavy tax and hence, restrict maximum hamper to the environment. Apart from the tourist regulation, the country has also preserved some areas as a protected natural environment zone like Parks and sanctuary with the help of International Organizations like The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Bhutan has also been in several summits held among the regional and global organizations to discuss about the modern issue of Climate change. According to Jagran (2010), during the 16th SARRC summit held in Thimphu in 2010, the theme for the summit was Climate Change. During the summit, the Prime Minister of Bhutan proposed several points to look after the challenges of the climate change. As said by the former Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Bhutan believes in the code ‘thinking and acting globally’. So, in the year 2017 the combined nation of Nepal, Bangladesh and India proposed an agreement known as BBIN, but it was rejected by Bhutan because the term of agreement sates about the free movement of vehicles within any of these countries (Ali, 2017). So, in line with environment and climate change it was a big concern for the country like Bhutan. Likewise, to create awareness about the environmental and climate change by the Bhutanese in the world, several matters were discussed by the high officials of our country with the international organization. In the year 2017, the former Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay gave a ted talk in Germany about climate change in Bhutan and its challenges. Hence, it had exhibited Bhutan’s concern for environment and climate change and how they are implementing policies accordingly.

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As most of the countries in the world are now striving to maintain balance between their materialistic tasks and concern for destruction of environment, country like Bhutan is facing lots of challenges. As an under develop country, there is limited resources to resolve such issues. However, the developmental activity of the country is guided by the philosophy of GNH and foreigners have started admiring the strategy followed by Bhutan. Hence, country like Bhutan receives large amount of grant from different organizations in order to enhance protective measures for the environment. According to Thinley (2013), In the August of 2018, WWF gave $48 million as a fund for protecting wild life together with environment. Similarly, the European Union contributed to Bhutan’s sustainable development with 7.4 Million Euro in the year 2019 as an appreciation for being agency towards green environment. Moreover, the Global Environmental Facility has also provided a support of US dollar 10 million to established the trust fund for environmental conservation which now leads in nature conservation and in effective management of the country’s protected areas. Additionally, it provided US dollar 3.5 million to reduce the risk by lowering the water level of most potentially dangerous glacier lakes annually and mainstreaming disaster risk reduction into development. Bhutan is also been visited by environmentalists and researchers to study about the environment and system that functions for the promotion. By possessing sound natural environment besides their unique culture, increasing number of tourists is willing to visit the country and experience the nature upon paying high taxes. Thus, due to the stress that Bhutan gives towards conserving nature and dealing with climate change, it has been an advantage for the small kingdom to equally balance their developmental plans and conserve environment with assists from the world.

Bhutan has collaborated with numerous countries in terms of foreign relations for many reasons and one of them is to protect antique natural environment. With the establishment of first five year plan in 1961, Bhutan started opening up to outside world (Bhattarcharya, 1996). Ever since the connection of motor road in 1961, the phase where Bhutan remained isolated from the foreign countries came to an end. Thereafter, Bhutan focused in expanding their international relationship epically from the year 2007 and as of now, Bhutan has diplomatic relationship with 52 States. India is one of them and many developmental activities in the country are carried out with the support from India. Time to go green in Bhutan is adopted by India Government for the development of hydro power plants where there is less effect on environment and more use of renewable energy available in country (Srinivasan, 2018).We can see several hydro power dams which lightens our houses and less use of fossil and fuel wood, is most valuable contribution contributed by Indian Government. In this modern era, many developed nation are now concern with the environment and climate issues. Therefore, they tend to contribute huge fund to those countries where nature prevails larger part of its area and those who take serious about climate change. Hence, Bhutan involves as one of the countries that is been appreciated for conserving the environment and emitting lesser CO2. Bhutan’s international relationship policy regulates base on promoting natural environment and other subject matters like culture and trades. Hence, the country has successfully developed relationships with many countries in a short period of time. With ambassadors placed in respective diplomat countries, Bhutan could enjoy merits like, getting opportunities for Bhutanese students to study abroad, get recruited as an employee, initiate bilateral business trades and other aids that they receive from various countries.

In conclusion, Bhutan is a country which is currently moving towards modernization, but the concern for protecting environment and climate change has never left behind. Being a country with rich biodiversity many foreign policies are implemented to protect and reduce the problem of environment and climate change in near future. Many foreign countries have made policies in line with environment and climate change and tried to sign agreement with Bhutan, but our country never fail to make a wise decision. Furthermore, country like Bhutan has received lots of contributions from international agencies in term of cash and kind to look into the issues of environment and climate change. The developmental work of the country is guided by the philosophy of Gross National Happiness which tends to balance peoples material need and conserving nature. Further, due to the government’s dynamic foreign policy in response to environment and climate change, it has prosper their motive to make impacts in the world that also maintains a suitable foreign relationship which helps Bhutan to progress their developmental activities.

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