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Green Climate Fund approves $25.3 million for climate-resilient agriculture in Bhutan

Photo credit: Tshering Phuntsho, UNDP Bhutan

9 July 2019, Thimpu, Bhutan -- At its 23rd Board Meeting the Green Climate Fund (GCF) approved USD 25.3 million in support of Bhutan’s efforts to prepare and adapt to climate change and ensuring that Bhutan is heading towards low carbon and climate-resilient developments.

“As a mountainous agricultural country, climate change is proving extremely disruptive and expensive for Bhutan. Flooding and landslides during monsoon have caused extensive damages to vital infrastructure like roads, access to market, and rural livelihoods. Conversely, during the dry season, there has been an increasing pressure on drinking and irrigation water” said Mr. Thinley Namgyel, Secretary of the Gross National Happiness Commission and GCF National Designated Authority in Bhutan.

He added the financing support has come at the right time in helping to bridge the resource gap of the 12th plan and addressing climate change issues, particularly in the agriculture sector, which is one of the priority sectors in the 12th plan.

The Royal Government of Bhutan, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), accessed the Green Climate Fund. “The Gross National Happiness Commission acknowledges the GCF Secretariat, UNDP and all other relevant government agencies, including Royal Government of Bhutan Mission Offices for the solidarity and team work in successfully securing the fund,” the commission said. 

“Bhutan’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) highlights that the rural poor will be hit the hardest by climate change and its related impacts. This project, therefore, directly responds to the rural communities’ needs and address their challenges in the agriculture sector,” said Ms. Azusa Kubota, Resident Representative of UNDP Bhutan. “With a long history of strong partnership with the GNHC, both at the policy and community levels, UNDP is pleased to support this project and concretely contribute to the Government’s top priority and Sustainable Development Goals.”

The project will primarily benefit rural communities through provision of sustainable land and water management, more climate-resilient irrigation and agriculture, and climate-resilient roads. The project will also work with government agencies to mainstream climate change risks into land and water management planning.

In addition to supporting the 12th plan, the project is in coherence with the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs – including no poverty (SDG 1), gender equality (SDG 5), reduced inequalities (SDG 10), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) and climate action (SDG 13)  – and aligns well with Bhutan’s Nationally Determined Contribution under the global Paris Agreement.

By the end of the project, it is anticipated that over 400km of roads will be climate-proofed, 8,000 hectares of farmland will have reliable climate-resilient irrigation schemes, and crop yields would be increased by 30%.

GNHC and UNDP will provide strategic and oversight roles to the project while local governments and agencies like the National Centre for Hydrology and MeteorologyDepartment of AgricultureDepartment of IndustryDepartment of Forest and Park Services, and Department of Roads will implement the project.

Project implementation is expected to begin from January 2020 and complete by 31st December 2020.


Additional notes to editors

The average poverty rate in Bhutan is 12%, largely focused in rural areas, and especially in communities reliant on the agriculture sector. Of the eight dzongkhags selected for the project, four in particular have poverty rates which exceed the national average of 12% (Dagana, Samste Trongsa, Tsirang and Zhemgang).

Data from weather stations in Bhutan show clear increases (positive trends) in mean and maximum temperatures.

Whilst average annual rainfall has seen a decline, there have been significant increases in both the length of the dry season and several indices measuring extremes of daily rainfall.

Climate risk-related challenges are expected to continue and worsen with climate change.

For more information on the project, ‘Supporting Climate Resilience and Transformational Change in the Agriculture Sector in Bhutan’, please visit

Photos available upon request.

About the Green Climate Fund

The Green Climate Fund is a global fund created to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change. GCF helps developing countries limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. It seeks to promote a paradigm shift to low-emission and climate-resilient development, taking into account the needs of nations that are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.

About the United Nations Development Programme

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

UNDP was one of the first organisations accredited by the Green Climate Fund in 2015 and is one of the largest brokers of climate change grant support to developing countries.

Ms. Mariana Simoes | Regional Technical Specialist, Climate Change Adaptation | UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub |

Mr. Chimi Rinzin | Climate Change Adaptation & Disaster Risk Reduction Team Lead | UNDP Bhutan |

Mr. Nawaraj Chhetri | Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Team Lead | UNDP Bhutan |