Building Sustainable and Resilient Communities in Bhutan

The Konrad Adenauer Sharing Political and Civic Engagements Space (KASpaces) Workshop Series on Sustainable Cities and Resilient Communities recently concluded in three cities across Bhutan from May 15 to May 19, 2023, marking a significant step towards fostering sustainable development and building resilient communities. Organised by the KASpaces and ICLEI South Asia, with support from local governments, these intensive workshops provided a platform for local stakeholders to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to tackle pressing urban challenges and improve the quality of life for Bhutanese citizens.

The KASpaces Workshop Series spanned across Thimphu, Punakha, and Phuentsholing, bringing together a diverse group of participants, including urban planners, government officials, community leaders, architects, and environmental experts. This dynamic mix of individuals created an ideal environment for knowledge exchange and collaboration. Throughout the series, participants engaged in in-depth discussions on crucial topics such as sustainable urban planning, climate change mitigation, disaster resilience, community engagement, and green infrastructure development.

These workshops held significant value for Bhutan as it strives to become a developed nation and prepares for the 13th Five-Year Plan. By identifying priority areas, projects, and key result areas, the workshops provided a valuable opportunity to address the specific issues, challenges, barriers, and solutions faced by Bhutanese cities.

Participants from Bhutan were encouraged to adapt and apply the approaches discussed during the workshops to the unique context of their cities, taking into consideration Bhutan’s commitment to Gross National Happiness and its holistic development philosophy. One of the notable highlights of the workshops was the focus on community participation and stakeholder engagement. Participants explored strategies to involve local communities in decision-making processes and empower them to actively contribute to sustainable development.

In addition to the workshops, delegations from ICLEI South Asia and KAS PDA engaged in high-level meetings with key government ministries, including the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, the Ministry of Energy & Natural Resources, and the Prime Minister’s Office. These meetings aimed to foster partnerships and facilitate collaboration towards the effective implementation of sustainable development goals.

Furthermore, Mr. Emani Kumar, Executive Director, ICLEI South Asia, alongside Ms. Alina Reiss, Deputy Director of KAS Singapore, delivered a lecture to students at the Royal Thimphu College. The lecture focused on sustainable development goals and highlighted the role that young students can play in accelerating their implementation. By inspiring and encouraging the younger generation, the session aimed to create a lasting impact on sustainable development efforts.

Overall, the KASpaces Workshop Series on Sustainable Cities and Resilient Communities played a crucial role in advancing sustainable development and resilience in Bhutan. By facilitating knowledge sharing, collaboration, and the adoption of sustainable approaches tailored to Bhutan’s unique context, the workshops contribute significantly to Bhutan’s ongoing journey towards achieving its development goals.

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