On 21 February, coinciding with the 40th Birth Anniversary His Majesty the Fifth King, the Snowman Race Secretariat and the Royal Government of Bhutan, in partnership with UN Bhutan, WWF and others launched the Bhutan Climate Action Summit “Honoring Ecopreneurs and Climate Champions”.
The one-and-a-half-day Climate Action Summit focused on carbon neutrality will follow the five-day Snowman Race, called as the world’s toughest ultramarathon and will take place from 13-17 October 2020.
The summit aims to drive home the urgency of climate crisis and how the time for action is running out.
The Snowman Race, envisioned by His Majesty The King following His Majesty’s numerous treks to Lunana in recent years, seeks to bring the world’s attention to climate change, as one of the defining issues.
Conceptualized by His Majesty the King, the race is a Royal vision to protect the natural environment and preserve the unique living cultures of remotes communities; those who are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
The runners in snowman race will cover 300 KMs of supremely challenging terrain covering mountain passes as high as 5,500 meters in less than 5 days. The route begins in Gasa before the route traverses Lunana, one of the most remote areas in Bhutan and the race will end at Bumthang.
This race aims to shine a global spotlight on the impact to the planet and to highlight the urgent need for global action. It is also to highlight the alarmingly real effects of global warming, particularly on the planet’s fragile ecosystems, such as those of the highlands.
Kesang Wangdi, Chairperson of the Snowman Race secretariat said that in the last 50 years, global temperature rose by 170 times the background rate. It abundantly clears that they need to see a cut in global emissions by 7.6 percent every year for next decade to remain on the pathways to 1.5 Centigrade goal.
“It is therefore not about whether there is climate change but rather how fast it is changing and what we are collectively and individually doing about it. Emboldened by the Royal Vision, the first Snowman Race aspires to galvanize climate action starting at local levels,” he said.
He said that “The climate action summit after a snowman race is expected to draw leaders from the business and corporate world to deliberate on bringing about bold and transformative changes through climate action, with emphasis on mountain ecosystems and gender.”
This is one small step in the direction that they all need to move in, together, before we run out of time, he added.
Meanwhile, the summit will focus on engaging the private sector in the region and beyond with an aim to make them an integral part of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts to galvanize global climate action.
He said that the summit aims to achieve the commitment at the highest level for cooperation within the business communities of the Asia region in a summit declaration and institute the first globally reputed award from Bhutan for commitment to carbon neutrality by business and corporations.
The other aim is to facilitate pledges from business leaders and multinational companies towards reducing their carbon emissions and contributing to positive climate actions/initiatives.
“The Snowman Race will facilitate and provide further impetus to the ongoing initiative called the Emergency Declaration for Nature and People by Heads of States, facilitated by WWF/UN and partners,” he added.
Dechen Dorji, Country Representative of World Wildlife Fund Bhutan (WWF) said that the summit also aims at endorsing the creation of an Innovative Climate Action Fund for increasing the resilience and climate adaptation of Bhutan’s highlands and securing commitments from business leaders, partner countries and institutions.
He said, “We would like to do through securing support from the private sector, governments, academic and civil society towards the ambitions for a new deal for nature and people 2020.”
The summit will also provide a platform for showcasing sustainable business practices as a means to support the realization of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).
The Snowman Race and the Summit couldn’t take place at a better time, said Resident Coordinator of UN Bhutan, Gerald Daly.
He said, “2020 marks the start of a decade of action to meet SDGs and drive climate action. 2020 also marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and to mark this, the United Nations launched the biggest-ever global conversation on the role of global cooperation in building the future we want; climate change being recognized as an urgent issue.”
Research has shown climate and gender are closely interlinked, he added.
It involves the participation of all segments of societies including official agencies, local communities, SOEs, NGOs and UN and other external partners.