BTFEC gets a new home

BTFEC gets a new home

The new Secretariat building will be the pulse of social welfare, environmental and biodiversity conservation efforts in the country

The Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (BTFEC) consecrated its new Secretariat building in Changangkha, Thimphu on February 8, 2024. His Royal Highness, Gyaltshab, Dasho Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay, Leytshog Lopon Sangay Dorji and senior government officials graced the occasion.

The construction of the fully solar-powered building started in 2020 with a budget of Nu 113 million (M). The buildingโ€™s exterior wears a traditional architectural design while the interior is furnished with all the modern amenities and boasts of disabled-friendly staircases, along with elevators.

The cost and the space inside the three-storied building will be shared between Health Trust Fund, Bhutan for Life and BTFEC since all of them share similar social and environmental mandates.

The BTFEC is one of the oldest organizations in Bhutan and the worldโ€™s first environmental trust fund-a collaborative venture between the Royal Government of Bhutan, the United Nations Development Program, and World Wildlife Fund. The BTFEC was established to secure a mechanism for sustainable financing for the preservation of the countryโ€™s biodiversity, promoting social welfare and environmental conservation.

It has funded over 241 environmental projects amounting to over USD 30M since its inception on March 6, 1991. Its donors included the World Wildlife Fund, Global Environment Facility, Green Climate Fund, and the governments of Bhutan, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.

A total of 15 projects are currently underway worth over USD 12M, while BTFEC will be funding projects worth USD 2M every year. Accredited by the Green Climate Fund and Adaptation Fund as an autonomous grant-making organization, BTFEC accepted proposals from both government and private agencies to support activities to promote social welfare through environmental conservation.ย  Over 90 proposals were received last year while BTFEC encourages more project proposals to shower in, which will benefit the society and nature conservation efforts through the annual grants.

The BTFEC is currently engaged with numerous Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) for project collaboration and to make them aware of the areas through which they can propose, and the amount that they can access as grants.

There are two categories of accessing grants. The large grants are up to Nu 15M, to be done within three years and small grants up to Nu 0.4M, to be done within a year. BTFEC is in the process of tapping into three major projects worth USD 25M.

BTFEC generates income from its endowment fund of over USD 20M that was initially raised from multilateral and bilateral networks. The endowment fund has grown to approximately USD 72M. While 80 percent of the endowment is invested in global financial markets, 20 percent is invested in the Bhutanese financial market, officials said.

Meanwhile, the BTFEC Secretariat was established in 1991 as an Independent Grant-making Organization. His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo granted the Royal Charter to BTFEC on May 27, 1996.

In 2004, His Majesty the King (then Chhoetse Poenlop) graced as the Chairman of the Trust Fund from November 19, 2004 to September 2008. Bhutan Trust Fund was accredited as the National Implementing Entity (NIE) to Adaptation Fund (AF) on January 25, 2018. Similarly, BTF was accredited as the Direct Access Entity (DAE) to Green Climate Fund (GCF) on April 24, 2020.

His Majesty the King granted the Royal Charter with enhanced mandates on September 8, 2021.

Tashi Namgyal from Thimphu