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GCF National Adaptation Plan project in Bhutan

GCF National Adaptation Plan project in Bhutan


Climate change is expected to bring a raft of changes to Bhutan, including long-term impacts such as rising average temperatures, reduced dry-season precipitation coupled with increased wet-season precipitation, intensified rainfall events, erratic rainfall patterns, and altered monsoon timings. Additionally, the country faces heightened risks of hydro-meteorological and geological disasters, including glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), landslides, earthquakes, river erosion, flash floods, windstorms, and forest fires due to climate-related factors.

The hydropower, agriculture, and tourism sectors, collectively contributing nearly a quarter of GDP in Bhutan, are significantly vulnerable to climate variability and natural hazards. In response, this project, supported by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), is dedicated to assisting the Royal Government of Bhutan in further advancing its cross-sectoral National Adaptation Plan process. The project's primary goal is to reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts by enhancing adaptive capacity and resilience. It seeks to facilitate the coherent integration of climate change adaptation into new and existing policies, programs, and activities, especially within development planning processes and strategies across various sectors and at different levels. This includes establishing a robust monitoring and evaluation system for effective implementation.

Project details

Despite significant socio-economic progress, Bhutan faces the potential reversal of gains due to the adverse impacts of climate change. Bhutan initiated its National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process in 2015, building on the 2012 National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA). The NAP project aims to align with Bhutan’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) by accelerating medium- to long-term adaptation efforts, focusing on priority sectors, such as water resources. In addition, the project seeks to enhance Bhutan's NAP process by addressing challenges related to coordination, learning, awareness, technical capacity, systematic identification of adaptation options, and monitoring and evaluation. 

National-level outcomes involve enhanced coordination, knowledge management, technical capacity for climate scenarios, vulnerability assessments, appraised and prioritized adaptation options, and the formulation of the NAP with capacity for implementation and monitoring established. These outcomes include both a comprehensive component on water resources and activities across other climate-sensitive sectors in Bhutan. Barriers to adaptation planning in Bhutan are being identified and addressed through the formulation of the NAP, while institutional frameworks and systems are being strengthened to enable long-term decision-making for climate change adaptation. 

This initiative, led by the National Environment Commission Secretariat (NEC) in collaboration with various partners, builds on existing coordination efforts with UNDP and past adaptation projects, such as the GCF Readiness and Preparatory Support project “Strengthening the Capacity of NDA to access resources from the Green Climate Fund.” Mandated by Bhutan's environmental protection and water acts, the NEC’s central role is to ensure synergy with ongoing activities and prioritize adaptation options.

Project Updates

The NAP project has achieved significant milestones, including the successful publication of Bhutan’s NAP by the UNFCCC in September 2023, marked by strong ownership from the NEC and effective guidance from the Project Board and Technical Working Group. Additionally, the submitted NAP serves as Bhutan’s Adaptation Communication under the Paris Agreement. The NAP draft was presented to officials from all 20 districts, central-level agencies, development partners, civil society, private sector, and academia. A NAP implementation progress report was also produced aiming to inform the government, public, and international community about Bhutan's advancements in climate change adaptation. 

The objectives of Bhutan’s NAP process are to: 

1.     Ensure a continuous, progressive, and iterative process to assess the vulnerability and adaptation needs across all sectors and levels in Bhutan recognising the special needs of vulnerable groups through the National Adaptation Plan process. 

2.     Promote the integration of climate change adaptation planning and implementation of adaptation actions into national and local level plans where possible. 

3.     Enhance the climate information and knowledge system to support a long-term, iterative process of adaptation planning and implementation. 

4.     Assess progress in adaptation including measurement of resilience and to climate change.


Project activities have made significant strides in establishing institutional arrangements, stakeholder mapping, and drafting NAP protocols and guidelines. Bhutan has successfully conducted capacity assessments, participated in global events, and developed data management protocols and a climate platform. Activities like stocktaking of climate information, vulnerability analyses, and sector-specific training programs have contributed to increased awareness and improved capacity. Notably, climate training sessions were conducted for mid-level civil servants in all 20 districts and 205 local governments and a report on climate change vulnerability analysis and mapping was compiled to evaluate vulnerable regions.

The NAP has actively incorporated insights from past vulnerability assessments, ensuring a thorough understanding of sector-specific vulnerabilities across Bhutan, including those from the Third National Communication (TNC) to the UNFCCC and various sectoral reports. This has supported sector prioritization and climate risk assessments on agriculture, health, forests and biodiversity, energy, and water resources. This includes a comprehensive assessment of groundwater in Sarpang District and preparations for the GEF-LDCF Urban Resilience Project, with a focus on Thimpu and Paro areas, addressing a mix of hard and soft adaptation priorities outlined in the NAP. Three key proposals have concentrated on green infrastructure for Thimphu City, web-based meteorological services, and a hydrological system for flood forecasting and early warning services, further contributing to Bhutan's robust approach to adaptation planning and capacity-building initiatives.

Water Resources
Level of intervention
  • National
Key collaborators
  • National Governments
  • Non-Governmental Organizations
Implementing agencies and partnering organizations
  • Bhutan Ministry of Environment and Tourism
Project status
Under Implementation
Funding Source
Green Climate Fund
Financing amount
US$ 2,999,859

Key results and output

Outcome 1: Enhanced coordination, learning and knowledge management for an iterative NAP process.

Outcome 2: Technical capacity enhanced for the generation of climate scenarios and impact assessment.

Outcome 3: Vulnerability assessments undertaken and adaptation options prioritized.

Outcome 4: NAP formulated and capacity for implementation and monitoring established.

Reports & publications

Videos & multimedia