Need strong policies to achieve Green Economy

Bhutan has a detailed set of laws and regulations serving as good guidelines for corporate responsibility for the environment, but panelists suggested the need for correction of the policies to attain green economy during in the Better Business Summit last week.

“Keep the principle of green economy clean, part of GNH, to translate in business daily practice,” Executive Director of ICIMOD, David Molden said. He further added that the business sector could tap into the opportunities in the mountain area where there is more prevalence of the poverty as well a potential market area to generate products.

Chairperson and Editorial Director, Guardian Sustainable Business, Jo Confino said that Bhutan needs to define exactly what the brand Bhutan means, and added that Bhutan need to operationalize GNH. He said the rural sector needs to be made attractive as well to make GNH reliable to business development.

Bhutan promotes mega-hydro projects plants, a single largest economic opportunity but it is also a largest contributors to country’s environmental issues.

Program Manager, Sustainable Public Procurement, International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD) Oshani Perera says that the green economy needs investment. Further, she talked on deriving it from the sources of clean energy, hydro and derivatives of hydro. She also talked about the brown field as into agriculture businesses and tourism. She pointed the policies existing in Bhutan need correction.

The discussion also pointed to the fact that vehicles plying in the roads of Bhutan use 87,000 tons of imported fossil fuel that make up around Nu 4.4bn costing the economy as of 2010.

“ Bhutan’s annual fuel consumption will increase by another 30% between 2010 and 2020 and expected rise in fuel price by 6% per year during the period,” the National Environment Commission and Asian Development Bank estimates.

In the vehicle ownership, Thimphu alone has 58 % of the 66,000 vehicles as of 2012. Vehicles contribute 28 % of the Bhutan’s total carbon footprint (approx. 177000 tons of CO2 per year), NEC report states.The waste in Bhutan is a growing concern as there is increase in waste each year and the problems in managing waste are mounting.

Founder and CEO of Thunder Motors, Tashi Wangchuk spoke about his vision for electric cars. Stating on the non-renewable fossil fuels he says that Bhutan produces the cheaper energy, electricity and sells to India at Nu 2-5 per units of electricity but in return buy fossil fuels 20 times the transaction.

Senior Advisor, WBCSD, Phillippe Joubert shared some of the people’s misconception on green economy where huge cost would be incurred and lose jobs and suggests, “We must put in very strong rules.”

Bhutan ranks 103rd out of 178 countries, the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) developed by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. Bhutan scores well in some metrics but poor in others. Bhutan ranks 17th in the world for biodiversity and 25th for forestry.

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