Bhutan to receive USD 10M for FAO-led GEF projects

Bhutan to receive USD 10M for FAO-led GEF projects

In a significant development for Bhutan’s agricultural sector, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has approved two projects totaling USD 10.6 million under the Food Systems Integrated Program (FSIP). Bhutan is one of the 14 Asian and Pacific countries benefiting from the GEF’s initiative, aimed at promoting sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices.

The projects, facilitated and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Bhutan office in collaboration with the Royal Government of Bhutan, will address key challenges faced by the country’s agriculture sector. The first project, titled “Productive and Sustainable Food Systems in Bhutan for Environmental Benefits and Gross National Happiness,” is a five-year initiative set to conclude in 2028. With a budget of USD 9.3 million, it aims to target 35,000 hectares of agricultural land, with a focus on promoting inclusive, gender-sensitive, and climate-smart food production. The project will address issues such as rural outmigration, human-wildlife conflict, and the lack of viable markets.

Bhutan is among the 22 countries where FAO is leading a total of 48 projects, collectively worth USD 2.9 billion, supporting National Food Systems Transformation Pathways and aligning with international environmental commitments like the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the Paris Agreement.

The second project, valued at USD 1.2 million, titled “Enabling the Kingdom of Bhutan to prepare 4th National Communication and 1st and 2nd BTR,” is designed to foster conditions for mainstreaming mitigation concerns into sustainable development strategies. This initiative, operating through the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency, will enhance Bhutan’s capacity in quality assurance, control mechanisms, and reporting of emissions inventories in the agriculture sector.

Ken Shimizu, FAO Representative for Bhutan and Nepal, emphasized that these projects will contribute to the transformation of food systems at various levels, supporting sustainable and healthy food systems. He highlighted the importance of collaboration with the Royal Government of Bhutan for the successful implementation of the projects.

Globally, 46 countries, including Bhutan, have partnered with FAO to access finance from the GEF in this work program. The GEF, dedicated to confronting biodiversity loss, climate change, pollution, and other environmental challenges, has provided over $24 billion in grants and mobilized $138 billion in co-financing over the past three decades.

The Food Systems Integrated Program, part of the GEF-8, focuses on catalyzing the transformation to sustainable food systems that are nature-positive, resilient, and pollution-reduced. Bhutan’s inclusion in this program is a testament to the country’s commitment to environmental sustainability and the well-being of its citizens.

Sangay Rabten from Thimphu