Success stories from Bhutan’s process to formulate and implement the NAP

In Bhutan, if you travel just five kilometers the weather and climate conditions can change significantly. In the country’s mountainous topography, water flow can be scarce in some regions, while flash floods can activate landslides in other areas.

To address the effects of climate change on the landscape, Bhutan has long been working to further adaptation priorities. The Kingdom of Bhutan launched its National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process in 2015, and in January 2019 the Green Climate Fund (GCF) approved readiness funding to further advance Bhutan’s NAP process with a focus on water as a cross-cutting adaptation issue with the support of UNDP. Bhutan’s NAP process aims to build on Bhutan’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), articulate medium to long-term climate adaptation priorities, and scale up investment in adaptation in priority sectors - including water resources.

January 2020, Dhaka - During the Gobeshona Conference, the GEF funded UN Environment-UNDP National Adaptation Plan Global Support (NAP-GSP) sat down with Lobzang Tempa, the Assistant Environmental Officer at the Climate Change Division of the National Environment Commission of Bhutan, to learn more about Bhutan’s experience in formulating and implementing their NAP.

NAP-GSP: How is your National Adaptation Planning effort going so far, and where is Bhutan in the process?  

Lobzang Tempa: Bhutan’s NAP process was launched in 2015 and in January 2019 funding for the NAP process was approved by the Green Climate Fund (GCF). It has been just over half a year since we began implementing our NAP process in June 2019. Right now, we are laying the groundwork by drafting a stakeholder engagement plan, guidelines and protocols for the whole NAP process.

NAPGSP: What is the relation between your adaptation planning process and the NDCs?

Lobzang Tempa: Bhutan’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) includes 10 adaptation priorities and clearly mentions the NAP process that will be critical to scaling up those adaptation activities in the medium-to-long term. The NAP will take these adaptation actions a little further and will include sector-specific vulnerability assessments and appraisals as well.

NAP-GSP: Is your adaptation planning/NAP process conducted at national level or at sectoral level only? Are there sectors that your ministry would like to engage with more in 2020 and beyond?

Lobzang Tempa: Bhutan’s NAP process is participatory and fully transparent- involving a multitude of stakeholders from inside and outside of government—i.e., sub-national authorities, academia, civil society, and the private sector. The stakeholder engagement plan that is being developed as a part of NAP process will help ensure all the relevant stakeholder are taken onboard in inclusive manner in taking the Bhutan’s NAP process forward.

NAP-GSP: Which national actors are critical partners in formulating a NAP and ensuring successful adaptation planning in the mid-to-long term?

Lobzang Tempa: To formulate the NAP, the role of the National Center for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM) is critical for collecting weather and climate information. They have capacity to analyze this data and disseminate it to the government, which we can use for projections on different sector’s vulnerabilities, which can inform our planning processes. Additionally, the Planning Commission (Gross National Happiness Commission) is another key partner in the NAP process because they have oversight of the decision-making processes. They have the mandate to allocate resources and make policy decisions for resource mobilization regarding the NAPs.  

NAP-GSP: If you could pick 2-3 specific objectives regarding your NAP process that would have been achieved by the end of 2020, what would they be?

Lobzang Tempa: The first objective we want to tick off in 2020 is to finalize the NAP Protocol and Guidelines. The NAP protocol and guidelines will facilitate the NAP process for planners and anyone engaged in the NAP formulation and implementation and provide guidance on iterative nature of the process. Another 2020 activity includes creating the “Knowledge Adaptation Platform,” for sharing relevant sectoral information. Currently, each sector is collecting their own climate change information, like the agriculture sector has weather data, while universities have research on climate change patterns and impact, but none of it is centralised. The knowledge platform is essential to our data and knowledge management processes.

NAP-GSP: There is a lot of talk at the Gobeshona Conference on the need for integrating budgets at the local level – for locally led climate action, and based on your country’s adaptation planning experience, do you see any entry points for leveraging finance to local level?

Lobzang Tempa: The national economic development plans are planned every five years and the Planning Commission allocates the resources to undertake the planned activities. Until 2018, only 20 percent of the budget was allocated to local governments. However, the subsequent five year plans starting from 2019, 50 percent of the total national budget will be allocated to the local governments. This will increase the opportunities for local governments to take up adaptation actions, which is strongly encouraged by the national government. Furthermore, we recently finalized the National Climate Change Policy, which includes provisions for locally led action.

Adaptation work in several key sectors in Bhutan continue to move ahead in 2020 with several intiatives underway. In 2019, the Green Climate Fund approved readiness funding of USD 25.3 million for Supporting Climate Resilience and Transformational Changes in the Agriculture Sector in Bhutan’  with the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) and UNDP and it will focus on enhancing climate resilience of the rural population by supporting climate-resilient irrigation, sustainable land management practices, and stabilization of critical landslide prone areas. The UNDP adaptation work on Disaster Risk Management, energy; environment, forestry, and water through the on-going NDC Support Programme work in Bhutan.

Footnotes: Story by Melanie Pisano, Climate Change Communications Specialist/UNDP with support from Louis Nunes Da Costa, Communications Specialist/UNDP HQ.