Qatar Diaries: Could Bhutan Knock Some Sense Into COP18?
It’s okay if you’re not away about the current goings-on in Doha, we really have not heard much from Qatar about COP18. These annual United Nations meetings on climate change really have not achieved much, despite the constant politicking and investment the UN plunks into this annual event. For the 17,000 who have descended onto Doha, they can be assured of one thing: Qatari hospitality, amongst the finest in the Middle East. More needs to happen than partying and networking, however. With all the talk about helping out developing nations deal with climate adaption, carbon credits, and who is to blame for this atmospheric mess, etc., one tiny country is snagging some attention. As Annie Kelley of The Guardian and Observer reports:
As representatives in Doha struggle to find ways of reaching a consensus on global emissions, Bhutan is also being held up as an example of a developing country that has put environmental conservation and sustainability at the heart of its political agenda. In the last 20 years Bhutan has doubled life expectancy, enrolled almost 100% of its children in primary school and overhauled its infrastructure.Should the rest of the world follow this country’s model? Bhutan, a small landlocked country wedged between India and China, faces numerous difficulties, including poverty. But since 1971 it has eschewed GDP as a way to measure progress. Instead Bhutan touts gross national happiness (GNH) to gauge the environmental, social and spiritual health of its citizens. The rest of the world may have mocked Bhutan in the past, but the climate and financial crises of the past few years have changed more hearts and minds. The more we collect and gain, the more we seem to be unsatisfied. We cannot replicate Bhutan on a dime, but this hamlet of a country could teach us some lessons. Photo of Qatari landscape courtesy Leon Kaye.