Energy Descent at the national level: Bhutan
By Ben Brangwyn 22nd June 2012
Bhutan is going organic, nationally!
This Rio +20 paper written by the Prime Minister of Bhutan – and it really seems to have been written by him rather than by a bunch of speech writers – is remarkable in many ways. It applauds the work done by small civil society groups, it repeatedly emphasises National Happiness, and it gives some quick insights into life in Bhutan. And what takes my breath away is what can happen when all the apparatus of a state works towards an ecologically sound set of goals.
Read the entire paper (it’s not long). It shifted my sense of “what’s possible” quite significantly. Kudos to the Bhutanese government for taking these bold steps.
It’s worth me pointing out that there are a couple of areas that concerned me, and I don’t know if they’re a problem or not:
- “It takes 500 years for a single inch of topsoil to form” isn’t right at all – check out the first 5 minutes of this Keylining, Permaculture and Greening the Desert video, and/or google “keylining”.
- He doesn’t mention land ownership issues – perhaps not a problem over there
- He doesn’t mention the impact of climate change on agriculture and whether the degree of adaptability of organic agriculture to changing conditions makes it more or less attractive than non-organic.
- He doesn’t mention energy much, which makes me wonder if they’ve fully appreciated EROEI (even though their actions do address it).
Imagine if the UK, or Italy or Australia took this approach…
Incidentally, he refers to a meeting in the US in April 2012 with lots of heads of state. Transition Network had the honour of receiving a highly personalised invitation to that meeting (someone from Transition US attended for us), and it’s clear that Bhutan really did it’s homework when looking for groups that are working in the same direction as them. Heartwarming!