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Kingdom of Bhutan to Chair the Least Developed Countries Group

Date: 01 February 2019

1 February 2019 – The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) negotiating group on climate change appointed Mr. Sonam Phuntsho Wangdi, from the Kingdom of Bhutan, as its Chair for 2019 and 2020. Mr. Wangdi is Secretary of the National Environment Commission of the Kingdom of Bhutan. The post follows a two-year chairmanship by the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, led by Mr Gebru Jember Endalew. The Chair represents the negotiating group of the 47 Least Developed Countries which, despite contributing the least to climate change, suffer the most from its impacts.

The incoming LDC Chair, Mr. Wangdi, said: “It’s a wonderful honour to be appointed Chair of the LDC Group, but also a great responsibility. As the impacts of climate change and the devastation it causes continue to increase, the urgency for action is clearer than ever. The coming years will be critical for the global response to climate change.”

Bhutan is a net carbon sink and has pledged to remain carbon neutral, backing up its 2009 carbon-neutral declaration with an ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) as well as fulfilling the constitutional mandate of maintaining 60% under forest cover for all times to come. The country’s contribution to climate change is negligible, but like other LDCs, it is disproportionately affected by climate change. With a large majority of Bhutan’s population dependent on subsistence farming, hydropower key to its economy, and the risk of outburst floods from glacial lakes increasing, the effects of climate change seriously threaten lives, livelihoods and development in Bhutan.

Mr. Wangdi said: “The countries that hold most responsibility for this climate crisis and have greater capacity, need to radically and urgently reduce their emissions and increase the levels of climate finance they provide. It is the LDCs that are hurt worst by climate change: we have the least capacity to adapt and address its damage, and without adequate and sustainable funding, LDCs risk being left behind in the transition to a zero-carbon future”

Parties to the Paris Agreement are requested to submit new or updated Nationally Determined Contributions by 2020. The UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York will also be an opportunity for countries to come together and show their commitment to bringing the Paris Agreement to life before 2020.

Mr. Wangdi said: “This year, we need to see countries step up and submit more ambitious plans for climate action. Existing commitments are far from enough to prevent warming from exceeding 1.5°C. Even more, with the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement now in place, we must move from commitments to action. Now is the time to ensure this blueprint becomes a robust system that puts the world on track for a more just and sustainable future.”

To conclude, Mr. Wangdi said: “The Kingdom of Bhutan looks forward to working with our fellow LDCs and the wider international community over the coming two years to advance our shared climate objectives. There is much at stake for our world, so be assured of our continued commitment and engagement to ensure a brighter and more prosperous future for all.”

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