November 11, Thimphu: The Royal Government of Bhutan, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), donors and partners from around the world today announced their commitment to create a Nu. 2.8 Billion (USD $43 million) fund—the first of its kind in Asia—to permanently protect Bhutan’s network of protected areas.
This funding will be combined with annual contributions from the Royal Government of Bhutan, which will be contributed over a 14-year period, to support a new program called Bhutan for Life (BFL). The program will ensure that there is sustainable funding to properly manage Bhutan’s protected areas, which constitute over 51 percent of the country, the highest percentage of land designated as protected in Asia.
At the launch of the BFL, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests said, “Our incredible journey of conservation has been possible because of visionary leadership from our beloved Monarchs and the unique cultural values Bhutanese attaches to our environment. The success of our efforts is also because of the good will and generous support from many donors, conservation partners and Bhutan’s friends.”
Proper management of the protected areas will ensure that the country’s 5-million acre network of forests and rivers will be protected against poaching, illegal logging and other threats. Forests will be able to absorb carbon so Bhutan can maintain its commitment to being carbon neutral for all times to come. Bhutan’s rivers, which are part of a network of rivers that provide water for one-fifth of the world, will remain clean. The country’s natural resources will support the livelihoods of much of the country’s rural population and help them to be more resilient against the impacts of climate change. And iconic wildlife, such as Bengal tigers and Asian elephants, will thrive in their natural habitat.
Her Majesty Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck graced the launch ceremony today and awarded certificates of special recognition to the donors and partners of BFL who were present at the ceremony. Among them were representatives from the Green Climate Fund, Global Environment Facility, World Wildlife Fund, UNDP, DT Families Foundation, Philipp Family Foundation, the Bedari Foundation, Bhutan Foundation and other private donors. Earlier today, the Royal Government of Bhutan and WWF also signed a declaration of commitment of BFL, witnessed by donors and partners of BFL.
At the heart of this, Royal Government of Bhutan and WWF led initiative is a fund that will make annual payments, starting high and declining to zero over a projected period of 14 years. During this time, the government of Bhutan will gradually increase its funding to match the decline in donor funding. Thereafter, Bhutan will be positioned to fully fund all protected areas on its own. An independent board with representatives from the government of Bhutan, BFL donors and relevant experts will oversee the implementation of the BFL-funded activities for the next 14 years.
BFL uses an innovative financial approach called Project Finance for Permanence (PFP).