It is always a moment of pride for me being a Bhutanese citizen when my country and my leaders are conferred with awards and accolades. While Bhutan is known worldwide mostly because of the developmental approach embracing sustainability in name of Gross National Happiness which have four pillars, Good governance, Sustainable socio-economic development, Preservation and promotion of culture, and Environmental Conservation, it is the progress in the fourth pillar that is often recognized and praised by the outside world. No doubt, Bhutan maintained centuries of self-imposed isolation with modern development commencing only in the 1960s when the first five-year plan was launched, so the Bhutanese younger generations have always inherited pristine and rich forest cover which are not infiltered for modern developmental greeds. Our successive kings have been so wise that when the country finally embraced modern development, a middle path approach was followed and natural resources are never compromised for the future generations.
|Source: Ashna Jawal|
Pioneered by the Great Fourth, His majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, environmental conservation is taken very seriously in Bhutan with an entire article in the Constitution of Kingdom of Bhutan dedicated to environmental conservation, mandating 60% of the country to be kept under forests cover for all the time to come. Needless to say the awards won by His Majesty the Fourth King for he was a Champion of Environmental Conservation in Bhutan but in 2016, the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Lyonchen Dasho Tshering Tobgay was amongst one of the honorary laureates of the prestigious German Sustainability Award for promoting sustainability in Bhutan, indicating that Bhutanese political leaders are following the steps taken by our Monarchs in maintaining environmental sustainability.
Fast forward, it is 2018 and yet again Bhutan perched on the top to receive the Earth Award at a ceremony in ITB (International Tourism Bourse) in Berlin, Germany. The award was received by the Tourism Council of Bhutan as the award was initiated to recognize and appreciate sustainable tourist destinations. While Bhutan being a green destination is because of the government's commitment towards environmental conservation, yet again, it is the far-sighted visions of our great Monarchs who introduced High-value Low-volume tourism policy to provide quality services to the guests and reduce negative impacts of tourism influx, that has enabled a sustainable and well-regulated flow of tourists visiting Bhutan. Bhutanese are lucky to have visionary monarchs, who not only ease the lives of our people today but also ensures a safe and secure place for the future generations.
Our local efforts might be small at the global scale, but its impact on our living population is large. We should be humbled with the accolades and awards given by the world for the little efforts that we put but should be proud that it is reaching strong message to wider global scale. The awards also remind ourselves to be mindful of what we are actually planning and doing because, during each award session, our leaders give a lot of emphasis on what we are doing in the forefront of conservation and sustainability. For a small nation with even smaller population, a well-planned development can have a lasting impact than taking blind shorter steps to obtain easy recognition and early benefit for obtaining political mileage. In the next half-century, it will be even more proud for our children to have few naturally flowing rivers without being dammed, protected areas well secured without roads crisscrossing multiple times, rural settings undisturbed but well furnished with basic amenities, towns well-built with a perfect blend of traditional and innovative designs, our roads meandering through the green woods without scars of degradation, and most importantly the generation than be benefited immensely from the tourists who visit Bhutan with genuine sense of belief that Happiness is a Place. It will be a beautiful prize for our future leaders and citizens that we are yet to come.