The Center for Local Governance and Research, Bhutan in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, London, UK organised a one-day conference on the theme ‘Bhutan: Biodemocracy and Resilience’ on 19th July 2019 in Thimphu, Bhutan.

The aim of the conference was to emphasise the good environmental lessons from Bhutan and to deliberate upon what can be done further to build more resilience for the twin environmental and developmental challenges of the future. The conference provided an opportunity to highlight the lessons the world can learn from Bhutanese experience and reflect upon how Bhutan can best continue on its unique developmental trajectory that combines
wellbeing and development with care for the environment.

As intended, the conference brought together Bhutanese people from many domains of life – scholars, policymakers, professionals, business persons, parliamentarians, teachers, entrepreneurs, citizens active in media, nongovernmental and civil society sector, and students – to think about these challenges, share knowledge, experience and learn in a cooperative and nonpartisan environment.

The Conference had an eclectic group of speakers who illuminated on specific areas and topics relating to the following broad themes:

  • Re-thinking the economy mindfully – what are the crucial issues that lie at the intersections of Economy, Development and Environment?;
  • Conservation narratives for land and people – what kinds of narratives enable better conservation of ecologies and heritage?;
  • Education and Policy – how can education embed and reproduce values that support policy-making for a better future?; and,
  • Specific policy domains where Bhutan leads the world – how can these be amplified?

The knowledge produced on building environmental and socioeconomic resilience on Bhutan’s development trajectory as a sustainable biodemocracy is an asset to Bhutanese policy-making. It can enable the learning from experience and reflection; moreover, the Bhutanese experience may have a wider applicability outside Bhutan. This conference and workshop was a small step to producing a knowledge-bank that foregrounds the developmental challenges and highlights the possible responses to them.