The tiny kingdom of Bhutan has sought a new path to development with a dual focus on ambitious conservation and human well being.
But more than a symbolic act, the planting was part of the country’s wide-ranging commitment to sustainability. Bhutan is now carbon negative: it produces more renewable energy than it needs, but the kingdom also acts as a carbon sink.
A country previously known for its isolationist policies, Bhutan’s former king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, sought a new path to development, not least with the Gross National Happiness(GNH) index.
GNH requires at least 60 per cent of land to be forested, allowing the country to absorb three times more carbon than it produces. Protected forests now cover over 72 per cent of the country.
Dr Saamdu Chetri, executive director of the Gross National Happiness Centre, believes the policy will grow more relevant as the country struggle with rapid modernisation and the direct threat of climate change. “After all, how can the future of a country be a prosperous one if you neglect to conserve your environment and take care of the wellbeing of your people?” he says…”
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