Lyonchhen was awarded the prestigious German Sustainability Award (GSA)

Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay was awarded the prestigious German Sustainability Award (GSA) for 2016 for his outstanding contributions in promoting sustainability at an event organized by the German Sustainability Award Foundation in Dusseldorf, Germany on 25th November 2016. The other honorary laureates for GSA 2016 include UN Secretary General Mr. Bank Ki Moon. Past German Sustainability Award laureates include Queen Silvia of Sweden, HRH Prince Charles of Wales, Dr. Gro Harlem Bruntdland, former Prime Minister of Norway, Dr. Horst Köhler, former President of Germany, Mr. Antonio Guterres,  former Prime Minister of Portugal and UN Secretary General-designate amongst others.

The GSA was instituted in 2008 to inspire decision makers in the public and private sectors to advocate for ecological and social sustainability and are awarded to government leaders, celebrities, cities and towns and leading global companies. The GSA is one the largest event of its kind in Europe attracting more than 2000 guests every year.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay paid tribute to the leadership of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, who at a young age of 17 years old envisioned the protection and preservation of Bhutan’s environment as a national priority long before sustainability and environmental issues were featured on the global agenda. Lyonchhen said that His Majesty the King continues to further this legacy. Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen also continues to support Bhutan’s conservation legacy with her role as the UNEP Ozone Ambassador and the Royal Patron of the Environment in Bhutan.

He also said that age old traditional Bhutanese customs and spiritual beliefs of peaceful co-existence with nature and Bhutan’s long term commitment to protecting the environment for Bhutan and the world continues to define the success of maintaining pristine ecosystems across the country.

Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay highlighted the challenges Bhutan faced from climate change and the serious risk it poses to the Bhutanese economy, which is critically reliant on hydropower generated by its network of pristine rivers. He said Bhutan has unconditionally self-imposed an ambitious commitment to remain carbon neutral in perpetuity and he said it was his hope that Bhutan’s actions would inspire leaders around the world to address climate change more seriously.

Preservation of the environment in Bhutan receives national priority in all its public policies and is one of the four pillars of Bhutan’s development philosophy of Gross National Happiness. The centrality of preserving the environment is reflected in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan which requires that 60% of the country be kept under forest at all times. Today, forest cover stands at 71% and more than half of the country (52%) is in a protected areas system that includes five national parks, four wildlife sanctuaries, one strict nature reserve and seven biological/ecological corridor, making  Bhutan one of the top global bio-diversity hotspots in the world. The Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an independent scientific analysis produced by four research organizations tracking climate action and global efforts towards the globally agreed aim of holding warming below 2°C, since 2009 has ranked Bhutan in the top spot and as a role model country for its INDCs, pledges and current policies to holding global warming to below 2°C.

Bhutan is increasingly being recognized for its development philosophy of Gross National Happiness. His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the people of the Kingdom of Bhutan were the recipient of the first ‘Champion of the Earth’ award in 2005 instituted by UNEP. In 2006, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo was awarded the prestigious World Wildlife Fund J. Paul Getty Award for Conservation Leadership and was inducted into the Kyoto Earth Hall of Fame for His Majesty’s outstanding contribution to the protection of the global environment in 2011.

While in Germany, Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay met Dr. Barbara Hendricks, the Federal Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Mr. Ms. Malu Dreyer, Minister President of Rhineland-Pfalz and President of the Bundesrat, and Mr. Johan Remmel, Minister for Climate Protection, Environment, Agriculture, Nature Conservation and Consumer Protection of the State of North-Rhine-Westphalia. Lyonchhen also met Dr. Wolfgang Pfeiffer and Mr. Cornelis Klein, Honorary Consuls of Bhutan in Germany and the Netherlands respectively, as well as Mr. Reinhard Wolf, President of the German Bhutan Himalaya Friendship Society among others.

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Speeches of HPM