Welcome To The Bhutan Himalayan Climate Studies Portal
This portal was established to facilitate and coordinate research and collaboration among scientists, policy and decision makers, international NGO’s, researchers and international funding bodies, in relation to climate studies in Bhutan, and more broadly in the Himalaya. The aim of the portal is to create a hub for interactions between climate researchers, government decision makers and operational staff, thereby bridging the gap between climate adaptation research, policy and operations.
This will be a multi-agency collaboration led by the Royal University of Bhutan with multiple partners within and outside Bhutan.
The Royal Government of Bhutan has committed to remain permanently carbon neutral and has recognized the need to enhance capacity to respond, mitigate and adapt to climate change. The Government of Bhutan has also drafted the Climate Change Policy of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2020 to address the challenges of climate change and to facilitate the programmes identified for the 12th Five Year Plan National Key Results Areas (NKRA).
Like many developing countries, Bhutan is already experiencing negative impacts of the changing climate. Bhutan’s status as a developing country constrains its ability to adapt to climate risks, to conserve its unique natural assets, to provide food security to its people, and to continue to develop with equity.
The climate in the Himalayan region is changing more rapidly than world averages. Himalayan glaciers are retreating with significant effects on water availability for irrigation and significant risks of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) affecting downstream communities with in and beyond Bhutan’s international borders. The changing climate is also affecting Bhutan’s food security, wildfire risk, and biodiversity.
To best prepare Bhutan for current and future challenges, it is vital that collaborative trans-disciplinary research to underpin decision-making is supported and enhanced. The Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) has a vital role to play and its fundamental research goal of “development oriented and policy relevant research that would enhance sustainable wellbeing and happiness” has never been more important.
Climate change is a global concern with serious consequences for livelihoods in developing countries. It is therefore essential that the capacity of research and academic institutions is increased to provide the knowledge and skills to foster and promote adaptation activities and build long-term capacity for enhancing resilience.
Since it was established in 2003, the Royal University of Bhutan has made significant contributions to policy making through research. This proposal seeks to build the University’s research capacity to address the ecological, economic and social concerns arising from climate change. These problems are complex and inter-related, and thus a transdisciplinary approach is essential.
This project seeks to expand RUB’s research capacity by exposing researchers to new skills and knowledge, strengthen implementation of trans-disciplinary research methodologies, build research infrastructure, enhance research degree supervision skills, and support students by providing PhD scholarships. RUB specifically aims to build its credibility in climate studies by conducting training sessions and workshops; designing both short and long courses related to climate change science, impacts and adaptation; develop quality research proposals for internal and external agencies; and develop laboratory and other infrastructure that can form a center for excellence to conduct climate change-related research.
Partners And Stakeholders
Our major partners are the government agencies in Bhutan since they absorb our graduates in the market. The University also has a track record of developing linkages with many universities and research institutions internationally. For instance, RUB has joined the Least Developed Countries Universities Consortium on Climate Change (LUCCC) which is a south-south, long-term capacity-building programme.
RUB is also a member of Himalayan University Consortium (HUC) based within regional institutions such as the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, Nepal.
RUB has more than 50 active memoranda of understanding signed with international universities for various academic programs, staff and student exchange programs and collaborative research. To pursue the Bhutan Himalaya Climate Studies project, RUB will continue to partner with all these established institutions both within Bhutan and internationally.
Since RUB has a strong history of working with several development partners in Bhutan, RUB will also explore collaborations with interested development partners with specific interests and expertise in climate change education and research.
Specific Outputs Of Project
Building the capacity of climate-related expertise in Bhutan will require a long-term program. A minimum initial period of five years is proposed with the following objectives:
- A minimum of 10 climate-related papers in peer reviewed journals will be published by RUB academics and students over the next five years, with an emphasis on providing support for evidence-based policies of the Royal Government of Bhutan.
- At least 10 PhD students will be enrolled in climate studies with full scholarships for tuition, living allowances, field and laboratory expenses, conference participation, insurance etc.
- A minimum of five postdoctoral fellows will be funded, and a minimum of 10 short courses in climate-related transdisciplinary research will be implemented.
- The supervision skills and research management capabilities of academic supervisors in RUB will be developed via structured training programs. Academic networks within and beyond Bhutan will be enhanced, and, where appropriate, co-supervision arrangements will be made with researchers at international universities.
- Several agencies in Bhutan, including the University, will have established climate science-related facilities, including acquisition of relevant laboratory and field equipment.
- Laboratory and field infrastructure to support climate studies will be established, including equipment to measure air and water quality; metal analysis equipment; dendrochronology instrumentation; carbon, hydrogen and oxygen isotope analysis equipment; and vegetative and non-vegetative isotope analysis.
Dissemination & Expected Impacts
Effective dissemination of research results to other researchers, policy makers, and concerned communities is essential. RUB aims to enhance the sharing of research via outlets such as workshops, conferences, training sessions, seminars, forum interactions, policy briefs, journal articles, press releases, and through the national and international media.
The continued enhancement of educational and research capacity in climate studies will coincide with Bhutan graduating from its Least Developed Country status in 2023 and establish the country as an academic hub in climate change studies, especially in the context of the Hindu Kush Himalaya region by bridging the gap between climate adaptation research, policy and operations.