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Clean Bhutan: Aiming to make Bhutan one of the cleanest countries

“Clean Bhutan” aspires to fulfill the very aspirations of His Majesty in making Bhutan one of the cleanest countries in the world. His Majesty has always stressed on the importance of keeping our surroundings clean and managing our own waste to ensure national integrity, national pride and a bright future.

Mr. Nedup Tshering, Executive Director of the Clean Bhutan Organization, has always wanted to contribute in keeping Bhutan clean and saw Bhutan’s poor waste management as a grave threat to our environment. While Mr. Nedup was studying in Australia in 2003, he perceived the need for a strong waste management system in the country and gradually started to work on the proposal to establish such system for Thimphu. He submitted the proposal to Thimphu Thromde (then known as Thimphu City Corporation) in 2007, with citations of best examples of several developing and developed countries in having their own waste management systems. But the proposal was rejected since the authorities then, was planning to privatize waste management.

So, Clean Bhutan Organization (CBO) initially was established as a cause for one year project to dedicate their services in celebrating the joyous occasion of the 60th Birth Anniversary of our Fourth King. Fortunately the project was duly a huge success that, the Prime Minister suggested the project be continued as a registered Civil Society Organization. Thus CBO was officially registered as a CSO in the country on 11th November, 2014. “The ruling government and relevant agencies have been very supportive since day one of the establishment of Clean Bhutan in trying to achieve Clean Bhutan’s goal,” said Mr.Nidup.

As of November 2016, Clean Bhutan had 2,689 registered members. Mr. Nidup clarified that being a member does not mean that they should participate in cleaning campaign activities organized by Clean Bhutan. The main objective of becoming a member, he said is to practice the eight clean paths to achieve the vision, which are, If you see anyone litter, educate the litterbugs, do not throw wrappers and any other waste out of moving vehicle, take you own waste collection bags, when you are travelling, do not leave an area with your litter after using the area, carry your own shopping bags when you go out shopping.

The other three are segregate your waste and manage it properly at home and anyway at all times – learn to reduce at source, educate your children/parents to be litter free and practice  the 3R’s (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) and be responsible of your own waste and practice sustainable consumption lifestyle.

Clean Bhutan now has six outreach offices in Mongar, Trongsa, Tashigang, Samtse, Paro, and Bumthang to address and look into the waste management issues. However Clean Bhutan said they would rather educate the people’s mindset on proper waste management and instill Clean Bhutan’s vision through planned advocacy than open more of such offices, which only escalates expenses.

People’s mind is currently polluted with the fact that the area they dwell around should be clean and well maintained and beyond that is not their business. We have seen how some people bring in their trash bags and leave it beside the roads or at other’s neighborhood. “Waste management is a cross-sectoral problem and clean Bhutan alone cannot achieve anything if we do not work collaboratively,” said Mr.Nidup. He said that to keep our country clean, it would require the effort and consistency of every single citizen.

Clean Bhutan has been working with some government agencies and institutions like Thromde or municipalities in 20 Dzongkhags, Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA), National Environment Commission (NEC), and Ministry of Education (MoE) among others.

Mr. Nidup describes initiating waste management activities and carrying out advocacy programs around the country as virtually climbing a 90 degree cliff. “Survey in urban areas show that people are willing to segregate their waste, but have no intention of reducing the trash at source. We are fast becoming a consumerist society and tend to buy everything we lay our hands on in the market,” said Nidup. So, Clean Bhutan advocates people in assisting them to understand the eventual consequences of consumerism by pointing out numerous drawbacks of poor waste management and increasing consumerism.

Clean Bhutan’s main concern and focus area includes rivers and tributaries where riverine ecosystem near the town and villages are choked with solid waste after people dump their trash in rivers. The organization manages the trekking routes and highways which are left unattended. People dwelling in the urban as well as rural are educated on the importance of proper waste management.

In order to accomplish their mission, Clean Bhutan has set the following goals:                                                                                                                         Short-term: To work with the local government, municipalities & local communities to manage waste more efficiently (1-4 years);                   Medium-term: Work hard to change the mindset of all Bhutanese citizen to practice 3R’s & responsibility (1-10 year); Long-term: Advocate Behavioral Change (ABC) on sustainable consumption to prevent Bhutan from becoming a consumerist society (1-16 years and onwards).

Clean Bhutan is positive in achieving its vision of making Bhutan a zero waste country by 2030. “With the blessings from the Golden Throne and 100% support from the present government, particularly The Prime Minister, we are positive that the vision of zero waste Bhutan by 2030 can be achieved,” said Nidup.

Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen is now the Royal patron of the Clean Bhutan Organization and CBO is all the more positive of achieving their goals with such supportive gestures.

 

About Sonam Yangdon

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