Nestled in the heart of the Himalayas, the kingdom of Bhutan was famously the first country in the world to measure its development using the philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH). This term was first coined by His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan in the early 1970s.
Bhutan was also the first country in the world to become carbon negative, and has pledged to remain carbon neutral forever. Currently, more than 50% of the country is protected through its network of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and biological corridors. This conservation effort is one of the key pillars of GNH and one that is intertwined with this small Himalayan kingdom’s spiritual and cultural values.
With these credentials behind it, Bhutan is chairing the Least Developed Countries (LDC) at COP26 – a group of 47 nations that are especially vulnerable to climate change but have done the least to cause the problem.
Mr. Tshewang Wangchuk is the Executive Director of the Bhutan Foundation. Tshewang worked for the Royal Government of Bhutan’s Nature Conservation Division and involved in its extensive protected area management system, serving as park director for two national parks. From 2003–2005, he coordinated WWF International’s tiger program, covering tiger-range countries in Asia. Tshewang holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in plant and wildlife management from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Master’s of Science degree from the University of Life Sciences in Norway. His doctoral dissertation in wildlife biology at the University of Montana focuses on the endangered snow leopard. Tshewang is the first National Geographic explorer from Bhutan, is a member of the Explorers Club and serves on the Board of Directors of the Snow Leopard Conservancy.
Dr Nawang Norbu joined Bhutan Ecological Society in 2017 after having served as Director of the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE). He was the pioneer for the establishment of society while at the Institute in 2010. As a Director at the UWICE, he helped convene the Climate Summit for A Living Himalayas, a process that brought together civil society, academics, and government representatives from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal culminating in the signing of the agreement in November 2011 to adopt a framework action plan to adapt to climate change. He also initiated the establishment of the School for Field Studies (SFS) in Bhutan. Prior to working at the institute, he also served as Park Manager for the Phrumsengla National Park where he led the drafting of a five-year management plan for the park and also the adjoining biological corridor. Nawang received his PhD in Natural Sciences from the University of Konstanz and International Max Planck Research School (Germany). He is interested in exploring the drivers and consequences of development and how it influences environmental conservation and societal progress.