Bhutan: The Policy and Practice of Happiness

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The National Biodiversity Center of Bhutan recently hosted a multistakeholder workshop on access and benefit sharing (ABS), which was facilitated by Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) and Morten Tvedt (Fridtjof Nansen Institute). The outcomes of the workshop resulted in extensive discussions with the members of the National Biodiversity Center and eventually a working draft of a national ABS policy that is aligned with Bhutan’s current law, policy and vision. The working draft ABS policy will be further scrutinized within the Ministry for Agriculture and Forests and discussed with the different government departments. The working draft will also be debated at 4 regional community consultations over the next two months, after which it will be assessed by the Commission on Gross National Happiness to analyze whether it meets the standards set by the Gross National Happiness Indicators. At the end of this process, the draft ABS policy will be critically reflected upon by Bhutan’s cabinet and the final outcome of this reflection will be adopted. Based on this policy, the Royal Government of Bhutan intends to then commence developing its ABS legislation and regulations.

2 May 2011

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