Engaging effectively in climate diplomacy: policy pointers from Bhutan

Engaging effectively in climate diplomacy: policy pointers from Bhutan

Driven by its development philosophy, Gross National Happiness, Bhutan has achieved carbon neutrality. Internationally recognised as a model for climate action, this small Least Developed Country is able to approach climate diplomacy from a position of moral authority. This briefing explores the main factors that have shaped Bhutan’s climate diplomacy, including how the country has leveraged its comparative strengths across multiple sectors to approach diplomatic engagement in its variety of forms and ensured coordination between its national and sectoral bodies. As the world takes forward various landmark international frameworks agreed in 2015, Bhutan’s effective climate diplomacy will place it in the best possible position to influence their implementation. It can also provide a guide for other countries — particularly small states — that seek to further the reach of their climate diplomacy.

Policy pointers:

  • centring national development on environmental sustainability can help governments fully integrate environmental conservation into domestic and foreign policy
  • fulfilling international commitments and achieving carbon neutrality increases political capital on the international stage, bolsters national credibility and strengthens negotiators’ moral authority to lobby for greater ambition from others
  • small states should work to preserve and fully participate in a rules-based multilateral system that allows them to negotiate complex matters on an equal footing, regardless of size, population, strength or economic capacity
  • effective coordination among national agencies will ensure they bring their best talent to the negotiating table
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