Bhutan is a small nation nested in the Himalayas between India and China. With a populace of a mere 750,000 people, the country is one of the few countries with a carbon-negative status. Not just carbon-neutral, this region is a carbon-sink and has evidences of negative carbon emissions. Numerous factors come into play towards awarding the nation this benchmark in environmental standards. The country recently entered a contract with Nissan to provide its residents cars that are electricity powered.
The country’s carbon sinks absorb more carbon than its factories emit each year. While the nation emits 1.5 million tons of carbon each year via its factories, the dense forest cover absorbs 6 million tons of carbon. 72% of this country is forested, and its constitution strictly declares that 60% of the region should remain forested. To implement the same the country has even banned export of logs.
The nation also aims at achieving zero-net green house emissions and zero-waste production by 2030. The chief religion of this nation is Buddhism and it is another reason that the nationals strongly believe in preserving and nurturing nature. Recently, members of each household in Bhutan planted a tree on the occasion of the birth of the first successor in the royal family. A net total of 108,000 trees were planted on the occasion.
Gross National Happiness
Influenced strongly by the idea that overall growth is directly related to the happiness of the population, the nation measures its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) under a very different criterion. Instead of GDP, Bhutan aims at achieving a high GNH or Gross National Happiness. The four founding principles of GNH are sustainable and equitable socioeconomic development, promotion of culture, environmental conservation and good governance.
Green Bhutan includes sustainable programs at various levels one of these being the nation’s tourism. The tourism in Bhutan has suffered greatly because of its expensive tourist permits. Bhutan currently charges $250 for a tourist permit which includes a mandatory guide. To promote a sustainable tourism the nation aims at developing its revenue and employment potential to lift its economy. This way they are hoping to establish a “low impact-high value” approach and preventing the culturally and environmentally negative effects of mass-tourism.
Green Schools initiative
In order to create a learning system where the principles of sustainable practices are given the necessary importance that they deserve Bhutan has included the concepts of GNH in its curriculum. Under the Green Schools program Bhutan has initiated sustainable classroom practicesin all its schools. The Jigme Losel primary school in its capital is the set model for the green schools mindset. The school has introduced various practical schemes like a communal vegetable patch, a class-tree to care for and a sustainable food program to feed students from low-income families.
The country is set on achieving its environment goals by implementing sustainable practices in every field possible. This includes agriculture as well. The nation is introducing the concept of sustainable agriculture at grassroots too by including it at school level. With the diversity of crop that grows naturally in the nation, Bhutan aims at exporting a substantial fraction of its herbs at a great margin to support its economy. The nation provides free electricity to its farmers to enable them to conserve on fuel. Natural fuel is also greatly promoted. Bhutan conserves its watersheds by its ‘run-of-the-river’ hydroelectricity development initiative across the nation. Most of its electricity needs are managed through foreign exchange from India.
The tiny nation of Bhutan teaches all the nations a lesson on sustainability at each level of its economy. Every policy in the nation has been framed around its basic instinct of preserving the environment.