Announcing the Bhutan Biodemocracy Conference 2020

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic loss of human life worldwide and we are confronted with an unprecedented challenge to public health, food systems, and economies in different parts of the world. The question of resilience has never been more urgent.

While Bhutan has faced the severe challenges around Covid-19, we Bhutanese have been most fortunate to be guided by His Majesty The King during this unprecedented time of uncertainty. Bhutan’s cautious and timely response, to manage a real and ever growing threat of the pandemic, has spared us the agony and anguish that many continue to experience. Creating compassion and a sense of volunteerism deep within our diverse communities, and inviting support from our constant friends and neighbours, His Majesty’s relentless visits to meet communities, to inspire confidence in our response, has once again reminded us of why the Monarchy in Bhutan is the symbol of our unity.

The pandemic is not over; far from it, challenges lie ahead of us. Problems have changed, priorities have shifted and the need for solutions have grown in urgency. It is important to strengthen our understanding of Bhutan’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to recognize our resilience. How did we respond as a society? Were our policies and institutions responsive enough? What are/were our most pressing challenges? What have we learnt? Guided by some of these questions, the Center for Local Governance & Research in partnership with the University of Westminster’s Centre for the Study of Democracy will be organizing a two-day Virtual Bhutan Biodemocracy and Regional Conference 2020 on December 21 and 22, 2020. While specifically focused on the pandemic, this conference builds upon our First Bhutan as Biodemocracy: Building Socioeconomic and Environmental Resilience Conference of July 2019.

Objective

Complacency is not a viable option. It is important that we learn from the experience of this pandemic to build learning on biodemocracy and resilience. We need to reflect on the ways to minimize health risks and economic vulnerabilities, as well as to build upon the spirit of volunteerism and community leadership that sustains us through these times and uncertainties posed by climate-related crisis, social and economic turbulences, and other changes unraveling before us.

By bringing together Bhutanese to share experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the world in unprecedented ways including Bhutan, in an informal and non-partisan space, we aim to generate discussions and dialogue, addressed at strengthening our resilience.

The panel discussions will cover these five thematic areas and will be streamed online.

  • Economic Vulnerability and Climate Change
  • Volunteerism and Public Health
  • Local Governments
  • Agriculture
  • Employment, Hydropower and Tourism

Organising Team:

Sangay Khandu and Tharchen, Center for Local Governance & Research, Thimphu, Bhutan

Dr Nitasha Kaul, Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, London

Proceedings of Bhutan: Biodemocracy & Resilience Conference 2020