Time for Bhutan and the World to Give ‘Happiness’ a Second Look

Jan 29th, 2015 | By

If there is one thing that could describe the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan in international development terms, it would most likely be the introduction of a unique metric to measure development progress: the “gross national happiness” index. But more than 40 years after the index was introduced by the country’s former king, Jigme Wangchuck,

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‘Smallest Country’ Bhutan Makes a Big Splash at Vibrant Gujarat

Jan 12th, 2015 | By

Even as some of the world’s most influential leaders spoke at the Vibrant Gujarat, it was Bhutan’s Prime Minister who stole the limelight and the maximum applause from the audience. Calling Bhutan one of the world’s “smallest countries, sandwiched between two of the world’s biggest powers India and China,” PM Tshering Tobgay, won both cheers

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Hydropower in Bhutan – Time For a Rethink?

Jan 9th, 2015 | By

The first international visit undertaken by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who came to power in May 2014 with a landslide electoral victory and a personal mandate for development and governance, was to India’s tiny neighbour to the north east, the landlocked Himalayan state of Bhutan. This indicates the importance this kingdom holds for India.

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The Case for Stronger Bhutanese-American Ties

Dec 24th, 2014 | By

The November APEC summit in China concluded with “historic” news – on agreements about climate change, trade, visas, and other issues. But the triumphal headlines do not mask the cold reality: Beijing is moving steadily to supplant U.S. power in the region, and replace the American-led international system with one of its own. Nowhere is

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A Conference Expands the Debate Over Hydropower in Bhutan

Dec 4th, 2014 | By

Hydropower is the mainstay of the Bhutanese economy, but how is the country moving ahead in its development? Is the present method of constructing hydropower projects conducive to economic development? Does it make sense for Bhutan to build 10,000 megawatts of hydropower by 2020, as some have suggested? These were some of the questions that

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Conversation with Bhutan’s Young “Dragon King”

Nov 19th, 2014 | By

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is a young ruler connected deeply with the digital universe while remaining anchored in the teaching and wisdom handed down through generations. He surfs the Web to gauge the mood of the people, following the conversations of his subjects and engaging them through social media. He has his own Facebook page, and he knows about National

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Up and About: A Tourist Destination That Does not Pinch the Pocket

Nov 17th, 2014 | By

Tourists from the city who have dreamt of travelling to international destinations at Indian rates might just have gotten lucky. Bhutan fulfils the criterion. Tucked amidst the tall peaks of the Himalayas, Bhutan has been rated the ‘happiest country’ according to the World Happiness Report 2013, and it seems to be spreading happiness to cost-conscious

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Gross National Happiness in Bhutan: Is it Working?

Oct 28th, 2014 | By

Nation Multimedia Group chairman Suthichai Yoon interviewed Bhutan’s Ambassador to Thailand Kesang Wangdi after a trip to the remote Himalayan kingdom famed for its notion of “GNH”. Excerpts: Ambassador Wangdi, I was in Bhutan two weeks ago. It was beautiful. And of course I asked everybody, ‘What is happiness?’, because Bhutan has told the whole

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For Bhutan, it Takes a Community to Save the Snow Leopard

Oct 26th, 2014 | By
NGS Picture ID:18250

First listed as globally endangered in 1972, snow leopards have declined by 20 percent over the past two decades throughout most of the 12 Central Asian countries they inhabit, from Afghanistan in the west to Mongolia in the east. Human activities – primarily habitat destruction, poaching and retaliatory killings to avenge livestock losses – present

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ADB to Fund USD 120 Million for Bhutan’s Hydropower Project

Sep 30th, 2014 | By

IANS: The Asian Development Bank will fund $120 million towards Bhutan’s 118 MW Nikachu hydropower project, whose total estimated project cost is $200 million dollars. The project is modelled on public-private partnership (PPP) lines, with Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC), and the debt to equity ratio of 65:35. Nikachu is the second project to be

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Climate Change: Bhutan Farms Face Growing Dangers

Aug 31st, 2014 | By

One of the most picturesque scenes from Bhutan is that of the snow-fed Phochu (male river) and Mochu (female river) merging to form the Punatsangchu. Thousands of padi farmers live in the fertile Punakha-Wangdue Phodrang valley, the rice bowl of western Bhutan. The peaceful, rustic image it presents is postcard pretty, but it also belies

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Indigenous Seed Savers Gather in the Andes, Agree to Fight Climate Change with Biodiversity

Aug 4th, 2014 | By

On top of a rugged Andean mountain situated high in Peru’s Cusco region, on 30,000 acres of conserved land known as Parque de la Papa (Spanish for “Potato Park”), indigenous farmers met in late April to discuss conditions they feared were threatening their ancestral lands. They came from as far as Bhutan and China, and

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Government to Pump Nu 2.2 Bn in Irrigation

Jun 29th, 2014 | By

Recognising that climate change is altering weather patterns, which in turn affect crop production in Bhutan, specifically paddy cultivation, the government will invest Nu 2.2B into irrigation in the next five years. Monsoon rains arriving later, and ending sooner than usual, is disrupting crop production and farm productivity, which, in Bhutan, mostly means rice. In

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Japan to Help Improve Bhutan’s ‘Happiness’ Index

Jun 24th, 2014 | By

The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is known throughout the world for its unusual approach to development, which includes measuring progress through the Gross National Happiness index. But beyond the “happiness,” the country is still mired in extreme poverty and chronic unemployment. About a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line and around

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Bhutan ‘at Risk From Mindless Growth and Western Consumerism’

Jun 2nd, 2014 | By
Bhutan Happiness Index

The Guardian: Bhutan risks making the same mistakes as other Asian countries by destroying its environment and social cohesion if it fails to engage young people in its gross national happiness (GNH) strategy. This is the warning from Tho Ha Vinh, the programme director of the GNH Centre, an NGO which is dedicated to protecting and

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Top UN Climate Official to Visit Bhutan

May 1st, 2014 | By

A top UN climate official will visit Bhutan from tomorrow to discuss the challenges faced by the Himalayan nation due to climate change. UNFCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres will call on Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and discuss the progress in responding to the challenges during her visit from May 1 to 3. The Second National

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Post-2015 – Why Should Bhutan Care?

Mar 24th, 2014 | By

If I told people that my position is called “Post-2015 National Coordinator”, majority wouldn’t have the faintest idea what such a person actually does. This article tries to explain what post-2015 means, and what is its relevance to Bhutan Today the world celebrates the UN International Day of Happiness, marked for the second time. Bhutan

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Nissan Signs a Deal with Bhutan to Supply Electric Cars to Help Reach Zero Emissions

Feb 23rd, 2014 | By

The remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has signed a deal with Japanese auto giant Nissan to become the ultimate showcase for electric cars, taking advantage of its abundance of hydropower. The announcement was made during a visit on Friday by Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn to Thimphu, the picturesque capital of Bhutan. Prime Minister Tshering

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Is it Time to Axe GDP as the Key Measure of Prosperity?

Jan 28th, 2014 | By

THE year was 1944. Tasked with an unprecedented rebuilding job amid the wreckage of a soon-to-end World War II, delegates from the Allied nations met in Bretton Woods, at New Hampshire in the US. Their mission? To draw up the new financial world order – one that satisfied their appetite for an open-market system. Among

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India Conveys Full Support for Bhutan’s Development

Jan 11th, 2014 | By

Business Standard: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has conveyed to Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck India’s full commitment and support to the Himalayan kingdom’s socio-economic development and also for development of its hydropower resources. The meeting with the Bhutan king were held in a very warm and friendly atmosphere, reflecting the spirit of trust, cooperation and understanding that

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Bhutan Seeks to be India’s Hydel Plant

Jan 6th, 2014 | By

Times News Network: Giant cranes scoop out mud from deep inside the mountains. Frenetic construction activity is on as a state-run company in this tiny landlocked Himalayan country races to complete one of the crucial hydropower plants. Workers at the site of the Dagachu hydropower plant are busy giving final touches to the project which is

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Bhutan Hoping for Happiness With Hydropower

Jan 2nd, 2014 | By

By the middle of 2014, the stately yellow, black and white Great Hornbills that live in the forest along the Dagachhu – a river in Bhutan’s Himalayan foothills – should get some peace after four years of drilling, blasting and construction around their rural haunts. Some countries have oil and gas. Others have fertile plains on

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Bhutan’s Environmental Success is a Pleasing Paradox

Dec 29th, 2013 | By

The Conversation: In a time of diminishing global biodiversity, Bhutan’s conservation achievements read like an environmentalist’s heavenly dream. More than 50% of its land area is designated as protected in national parks, nature reserves and biological corridors. More than 80% of the country is covered by natural forests, and it has a reafforestation program that is

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Winter Time Power Import of Bhutan is Going Up Increasing Concern of India

Dec 23rd, 2013 | By

Economic Times Bureau: Come winter, the king becomes seeker. And the distressed need is showing an upward trend. Diminishing hydropower production trend of the green power king Bhutan is going to be a major concern for India, too dependent on water based power from the Himalayan neighbour. In one side, while Bhutan’s own demand during dry

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All Taxis Could Be Electric in Bhutan

Dec 13th, 2013 | By

The government of Bhutan is considering replacing all their gas-powered taxis with electric ones. So far, the electric vehicles mentioned in connection with this potential plan have been Nissan Leafs and Teslas. Prime minister Tshering Tobgay wants to reduce oil imports by 70%. Currently, petroleum products are the country’s top imports, costing billions per year. Fluctuating oil prices

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Bhutan Prospers by Exporting ‘Sustainable’ Energy, But Some Doubt That It Is

Dec 11th, 2013 | By

Traveling in this western Bhutanese valley is like going back in time before the Industrial Revolution, with only forests, rice paddies and scattered farming villages visible from the road. But after one more turn, the peaceful countryside life is suddenly replaced by chugging machinery. Welcome to the construction site of Bhutan’s Punatsangchhu-I hydropower plant. The

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‘Happy’ But Poor? Measuring Development in Bhutan

Dec 3rd, 2013 | By

The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, home to quaint Buddhist temples set in an untouched landscape, is somewhat of an oddity when it comes to measuring economic progress. Instead of using its GDP, the country produces its own index measuring people’s happiness. According to the government, the Gross National Happiness is a “more holistic approach” to development

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Mandarin Production Sours

Nov 30th, 2013 | By

Kuensel News: For the last three years, mandarin business has been declining in Gomdhar, Wangphu, Orong and Samdrupcholing dungkhag in Samdrupjongkhar. Mandarin is the main cash crop to farmers of Gomdhar, Wangphu, Orong and gewogs in Samdrupcholing dungkhag, including Martshala.  The dependence on mandarin for livelihood, however, has become inconsistent, with its production plummeting by

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Bhutan Wants to Transform Itself Into an Electric Car “Hot Spot”

Nov 26th, 2013 | By

A tiny Himalayan kingdom that’s long been fiercely protective of its ancient Buddhist traditions wants to transform its capital into an electric car city. Tshering Tobgay, prime minister of Bhutan, said this week that the city of Thimpu would start replacing all official government vehicles (paywall) with the Nissan Leaf. Taxis and private cars will eventually be replaced with

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Farming Practices Critical To Preservation Of Endangered Bird Species

Nov 16th, 2013 | By

In contrary to conventional beliefs that presence of human settlements within the Black Necked crane (BNC) habitat impedes conservation of the endangered bird, a research has found out that human settlement and farming practices are critical to its preservation. The research findings were recorded by a team of researchers from the agriculture ministry who recently

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The Himalayas, A Special Report

Oct 8th, 2013 | By

With one-fifth of the world’s population relying on seasonal Himalayan melting, the disappearance of the Third Pole is sending warning signs. Floods, droughts, wildfires, windstorms, water contamination and illnesses plague the 1.3 billion people who live in the watersheds directly supplied by glacial melt from the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region. The waterways of Afghanistan, Bangladesh,

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Bhutan Looks To Become World’s First 100% Organic Country

Sep 11th, 2013 | By
Lotto Zam, a Bhutanese woman farmer, sells tomatoes and other produce at a market in Shaba, Bhutan.

Bhutan is renowned for espousing Gross National Happiness but now the isolated Himalayan nation is also looking to become known as a world leader in organic farming.  “We are nearly all Buddhists. Being kind to the environment and the planet has a central meaning for us,” says Kesang Tshomo, co-ordinator of the Ministry of Agriculture’s

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Focus On Personal Expertise On Last Day Of Workshop

Sep 9th, 2013 | By
Bhutan mules

ToI: The workshop on ‘Implementation of Thimphu Statement on Climate Change: Integration of Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction’ culminated on Saturday. On the last day of the workshop, the delegates focused on capacity building initiatives, developing institutional capacities, developing personal expertise and legislative basis need to support an institutional structure for addressing the

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Bhutanese Schools To Serve As Database For Climate Change Study

Jun 16th, 2013 | By

Ph.News Yahoo: Come July, students and teachers in 20 schools will get the opportunity to monitor climate change in the country using scientific instruments worth US$150,000 donated by Karuna Foundation in the United States. Schools using the instruments will serve as database for the climate change study, the first of its kind, carried out by

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World Environment Day In Bhutan

Jun 11th, 2013 | By

Bhutan Observer: The day was observed coinciding with Her Majesty’s birthday from this year onwards, as a tribute to Her Majesty’s patronage of the environment sector in Bhutan. In an address at the commemoration, Her Majesty said that World Environment day is of great relevance and consequence to millions of people who understand the importance

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Bhutan-The Land Of Gross National Happiness

May 21st, 2013 | By
On the Druk Path Trek between Timphu and Paro in Bhutan

Buenos AH: The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is the last surviving paradise on Earth. This legendary Shangri-La, now a member of the United Nations, is home to over 700,000 people. Until 1958, it was practically closed to visitors. When Nehru, the Indian Prime Minister, visited Bhutan during that year he rode in on a

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Tiny Bhutan Redefines ‘Progress’

May 13th, 2013 | By
Bhutan mules

My parents lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s and were profoundly affected by it. They taught us to work hard to earn a living, live within our means, save for tomorrow, share and not be greedy and help our neighbours because one day we might need their help. Those homilies and teachings seem

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Is There Hope For Hydropower As The Climate Changes?

May 2nd, 2013 | By

Hydropower is by far the most established form of renewable energy. Though not without environmental impact, either in terms of the local environment or, in the case of large dams, in terms of carbon emissions from the reservoirs behind the dams, hydro is here to stay. Unfortunately hydropower will be affected to a far greater

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Is Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Inclusive?

Apr 15th, 2013 | By

Himalayan Times: Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan kingdom sandwiched between two super powers India and China, has gained popularity after introducing a new development measure, Gross National Happiness (GNH), in recent years. The fourth monarch of Bhutan, Jigme Singey Wangchuck, introduced it in the early 1990s along with his vision of establishing good governance, promoting sustainable

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Bhutan’s National Happiness By Being World’s First Organic Country

Apr 14th, 2013 | By
Bhutan Epoch times

ABC Net: The small, landlocked country of Bhutan is aiming to increase its national happiness by becoming the first country in the world to completely shift to organic farming. About 80 per cent of Bhutan’s 800,000 residents depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. The country plans to use the organic status, which it hopes to

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Sustainable Happy Efficient:Toward Comprehensive Indicator Of Well Being

Mar 29th, 2013 | By
SHE-Brent Olson

Policy Innovations: Historically, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been accepted as a proxy measurement of well-being in society, though its faults and flaws when used for this purpose are legion and increasingly apparent. GDP measures the volume of monetary exchange within the economy—the commotion of money and nothing more. That makes it an infinite planet

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Climate Summit Bearing Fruit-Really?

Mar 21st, 2013 | By

WWF: Coordination Group of the Summit for a Living Himalayas (SLH) comprising of delegates from four countries (India, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh) met again on 23 February 2013. For the WWF LHGI, decisions taken by this Group in this meeting are a big step towards large scale regional action in the Eastern Himalayas. For the

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Bhutan: The World’s First Wholly Organic Nation?

Mar 12th, 2013 | By
A view of the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong or a fortress-monastery is seen in Thimphu, Bhutan, on June 6, 2009. REUTERS/Singye Wangchuk

Triple Pundit: The tiny nation of Bhutan attracted worldwide attention recently when it announced that it intends to convert its agriculture to 100 percent organic farming in the coming years.  For many, its claim is no surprise; the Kingdom of Bhutan has been incorporating sustainable growing methods into many of its agricultural practices for years.

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Bhutan’s Picture Of Gross National Happiness Blurs

Mar 11th, 2013 | By
Wangdue, project site of the Punatsangchu I Hydropower Project
Photo courtesy of Ritwick Dutta

IRN: Bhutan fires the imagination of an ideal mountain country with many snow-clad peaks, where people go about their daily chores in serenity, dressed in their national dress, wearing a smile and with a song on their lips. The image of the Gross National Happiness (GNH) that it portrays is ever present. The four pillars

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In Tibet, Change Comes To The Once-Pristine Roof Of The World

Mar 5th, 2013 | By
HKH photo

360 Yale: Renowned biologist George Schaller has been traveling to the Tibetan Plateau for nearly three decades, studying its unique wildlife. But with climate change and overgrazing taking a toll on the landscape, he reports, scientists and the Chinese government are working to preserve one of the planet’s wildest places. Chang Tang. It is a

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Social Innovation: Organic Farming, Climate Change and Bhutan

Feb 25th, 2013 | By

Justmean: Over the next 50 years, we will need to face global food and farming realities. We will need to meet the challenges of providing better nutrition for more people in spite of rapid environmental change while cutting back our overuse of natural resources, ecosystems and the climate. All this calls for social innovation in

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Bhutan: The Last Shangri-la

Feb 18th, 2013 | By

The Nation: With the visit of Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan to Thailand in June 2006 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of His Majesty the King, the Thais suddenly became aware of their fascinating neighbour to the northwest and its “Prince Charming” who became an instant fan of a legion of Thai

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How Bhutan Is Grappling With Climate Change

Feb 13th, 2013 | By

Down to Earth: Ugyen Tshewang, secretary, National Environment Commission of Bhutan, speaks to Ankur Paliwal on the effects on climate change and how the country is trying to cope with it. Tshewang was in the New Delhi to attend the recently concluded Delhi Sustainable Development Summit. How is Climate Change is affecting Bhutan? Our contribution

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Bhutan Set To Plough Lone Furrow As World’s First Wholly Organic Country

Feb 12th, 2013 | By
Stooping to conquer … Already an overwhelmingly agrarian state, Bhutan is aiming to become the world's first completely organic country. Photograph: Alamy

Guardian: By shunning all but organic farming techniques, the Himalayan state will cement its status as a paradigm of sustainability. Bhutan plans to become the first country in the world to turn its agriculture completely organic, banning the sales of pesticides and herbicides and relying on its own animals and farm waste for fertilisers. But

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Wise Use Of Resources, Limiting Climate Change Key To Sustainable Development – Experts

Feb 4th, 2013 | By
A view of the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong or a fortress-monastery is seen in Thimphu, Bhutan, on June 6, 2009. REUTERS/Singye Wangchuk

Alertnet: Good governance of natural resources and sustainable development must go hand in hand, or economies and nature are at risk, experts, diplomats and business leaders warned at a weekend summit in New Delhi. According to the experts at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, the growing impacts of climate change also is putting nations –

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Climate Conversations – Low carbon Resilience – Clever Idea Or Climate Panacea?

Jan 25th, 2013 | By
China's population are set to become the world's biggest per capita polluters Photo: Global Warming Images / Alamy

Alertnet: Instead of talking about climate change mitigation or climate change adaptation, developed and developing national governments – including Laos, Cambodia, Rwanda, Afghanistan and Nepal – are making plans to simultaneously reduce carbon emissions and build up resilience to the impacts of climate change. Eight of the least developed countries (LDCs) have developed some kind

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Study Finds Glaciers In Himalayas Will Continue To Melt

Jan 10th, 2013 | By

Deseret News: Many Himalayan glaciers are melting and will keep melting whether climate changes continue or are replaced by consistent temperatures, according to research done by BYU geology professor Summer Rupper. “The results of the study clearly showed the magnitude of glacier changes over the coming decades is likely to be very large and that

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Sankosh To Have Serious Implications On Environment

Jan 8th, 2013 | By

Business Bhutan: Considered one of the biggest hydropower projects in the country, the 2,560 megawatt Sankosh hydropower project, is all set to get a green signal from the Indian government, but the commencement of the joint venture project will mean serious implications on the environment. According to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report for Sankosh

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Let Nature Be Your Teacher: Bhutan Takes Conservation Into The Classroom

Jan 3rd, 2013 | By
MDG : Bhutan : Green Schools

Guardian: Bhutan’s green schools project is an attempt to bring its revolutionary ‘happiness’ model to all young people. The Jigme Losel primary school in the Bhutanese capital, Thimphu, is a riot of green. Plants cover most surfaces and are piled precariously on walls and stairwells. On the wall behind the school’s vegetable patch a hand-painted

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Gross National Happiness Grades Well Being

Jan 3rd, 2013 | By
Bhutan photo

The Star Phonix: I had an opportunity to chat with David Suzuki last fall, and after we had commiserated awhile about how bad everything is, he told me the thing that gives him the most hope. It was Bhutan’s efforts to develop using Gross Domestic Happiness as its measure of well-being. Most countries, including Canada,

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In Bhutan, Conserving The Natural Environment And Biodiversity

Dec 27th, 2012 | By

DipNote: Do you know which country’s constitution promises that a minimum of 60 percent its land area will be maintained as forest for all time? Which country’s government pledges to protect, conserve, and improve the pristine environment and safeguard the biodiversity of the country; prevent pollution and ecological degradation; secure ecologically balanced sustainable development while

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EU To Support Bhutan Under Global Climate Change Alliance

Dec 7th, 2012 | By

Govt. of Bhutan: Thimphu, November 30: A Financing Agreement (FA) to formalise the European Union’s (EU) support to Bhutan under the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) was signed between the EU and the government. The Officiating Secretary of the Gross National Happiness Commission signed the FA in the presence of the EU Ambassador to Bhutan,

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Gross National Happiness In Bhutan: The Big Idea From A Tiny State

Dec 2nd, 2012 | By
The principles of Bhutan’s gross national happiness system are spelled out for pupils at a secondary school in Paro, a largely agricultural region.  Photograph: Jean-Baptiste Lopez

Guardian: Bhutan measures prosperity by gauging its citizens’ happiness levels, not the GDP. Now its ideas are attracting interest at the UN climate change conference in Doha. A series of hand-painted signs dot the side of the winding mountain road that runs between the airport and the Bhutanese capital, Thimphu. Instead of commands to cut

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How Climate Change is Affecting the Children of Bhutan

Nov 30th, 2012 | By
A Bhutanese farmer puts her harvest of chilies on the roof of a shed to dry and protect it from wild boars, deer, and monkeys in 2006.

Huffingtonpost: Growing up in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, I would often see crows perched on nearby trees and on the rooftops of our homes. We would chase them as they tried to pick up food that was kept to dry out in the sun. Ten years on, it has become rare to hear the

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Bhutanese Delegation Ready For The 2012 UN Climate Change Conference

Nov 26th, 2012 | By

The Bhutanese: One of the key issues to be considered during the Doha Climate Change Conference is the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding obligations on industrialized countries as the foundation for any future climate regimes. The first commitment periods of the Kyoto Protocol is scheduled to expire at the end

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