Bhutan Climate Futures
As the first carbon negative country, Bhutan is a recognized champion of environmental stewardship and climate actions. This is further reinforced by Bhutan’s ambitious pledge in its NDC and Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDs), and commitment to remain carbon neutral perpetually. While it may appear difficult to find a niche in a country that is already climate proactive, when Bhutan passed a significant policy on climate: the Bhutan Climate Change Policy 2020*, there wasn't much excitement and dialogue generated in public discourse, evidenced by the absence of any media coverage. Subsequently, most of the Bhutanese youth remain unaware of their Government’s plans on climate change mitigation and adaptation. The dissemination and engagement of climate change policy to young Bhutanese is essential for several reasons. Over 46% of Bhutan’s populace is below the age of 25, representing a “positive force with enormous potential” to contribute to Bhutan’s socio-economic, cultural, and political environment. However, young people have voiced the lack of opportunities to shape narratives and meaningfully participate in decision-making as evidenced during the consultation sessions of the review of the National Youth Policy. Substantive underrepresentation of young people in crucial places of decision-making also occur simply because they aren’t equipped with the tools to engage with policy making— insights from the Hub-organized Davos Lab Dialogue conveyed that many young people mistakenly believe that policymaking is only for the policymakers and the older generation. Finally, although the decades of focus on environmental preservation have catapulted Bhutan's status as an environmental champion, the need to humanize climate change in the context of development and the changing climate is apparent. How can the young collaborate with government, institutions, and the private sector to achieve a prosperous, resilient, while remaining carbon-neutral country? We believe that in order to humanize climate change, young Bhutanese need to create and own their narratives about the changing climate and, subsequently, climate actions.
Solution: Bhutan Climate Futures Lab
To this end, the Thimphu Hub's broader climate mission has become to curate and disseminate climate-relevant information by amplifying and leveraging on the initiatives, research, and data of government and NGO partners to advance climate literacy and action for young Bhutanese aged 15-24. Climate Reality Trained “Green Shapers” at the Thimphu Hub designed and carried out a climate literacy program called “Bhutan Climate Futures” to enable its target demographic to understand the science, policymaking and advocacy for climate action as well as giving them skills, such as futures thinking, critical thinking and policy analysis, storytelling, coalition building and negotiation. The hub's aspiration is that participants can feel empowered to engage with climate change as something that they act upon. The climate literacy program (in the form of a workshop) also had participants pledge SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-bound) climate action projects under four categories:
- Dialogue: Ideas to create events for youth, by youth to present their climate narratives for effective discourse on topics pertaining to the Climate Change Policy 2020.
- Knowledge creation: Ideas to create fun and knowledgeable audio-visual or gamified or any medium content to make readers more aware of the climate, ecosystem composition, etc.
- Storytelling: Compelling campaigns on the Bhutan Climate Change policy 2020, bring real life stories of students from regions most affected by climate change (North and South)
- Eco-innovation: Entrepreneurial solutions for mitigation and adaptation to climate change issues in the community
*The Bhutan Climate Change Policy 2020 consolidates all existing environmental and climate legislation of the country. Though in the works since 2018, the policy was approved in 2020. The policy aims to provide strategic guidance to pursue the country's carbon-neutral development, ensure participation of stakeholders, and address challenges of the means of implementation and integration.
- Policy Literacy Workshops
- Collection and monitoring of SMART climate action pledges
- Engage 1 school, 1 college, 1 halfway home (100 youth aged 15-24)
- Target group understands the policymaking landscape by unpacking the policy objectives and means of implementation for Climate Policy 2020
- 100 young people aged 14-24 gain targeted skills for climate action such as storytelling, coalition building, design thinking, and public speaking
- Hub receives climate action pledges from workshop participants
- Quizzes to test before and after knowledge and feedback
- 100 young people aged 14-24 begin to design their SMART climate action pledges
- The number of SMART climate pledges received by the hub: 25% or more = Excellent; 15%: Very good; Less than 5%: Good