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Energy, Sustainability, and Resilience: Insights from Bhutan and Bangladesh

In a world facing increasing challenges related to climate change, the pursuit of sustainable and resilient energy systems has become more urgent than ever. Countries around the globe are grappling with the need to transition to cleaner, more reliable sources of energy while ensuring that their communities are equipped to withstand the impacts of a changing climate. Two countries, Bhutan and Bangladesh, offer valuable lessons in this regard, demonstrating innovative approaches to energy, sustainability, and resilience that can serve as inspiration for the rest of the world.

Bhutan: A Model of Sustainable Development

Nestled in the eastern Himalayas, the small kingdom of Bhutan has gained international recognition for its commitment to sustainable development. Central to Bhutan's approach is the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH), which prioritizes the well-being of its citizens over purely economic indicators of progress.

Renewable Energy as a Pillar of Bhutan's Development

One of the key pillars of Bhutan's development strategy is the harnessing of its abundant renewable energy resources. The country's rivers and steep topography make it well-suited for the generation of hydropower, which has become the backbone of Bhutan's energy sector. In fact, Bhutan generates surplus electricity from its hydropower plants, much of which it exports to neighboring India.

This focus on renewable energy has not only reduced Bhutan's reliance on fossil fuels but has also provided a significant source of revenue for the country. By leveraging its hydropower potential, Bhutan has demonstrated how a small nation can use clean energy to drive sustainable economic growth.

Prioritizing Environmental Conservation

In addition to its emphasis on renewable energy, Bhutan has also prioritized environmental conservation. The country's constitution mandates that at least 60% of its total land area must be maintained as forest cover. This commitment to preserving its natural landscapes not only contributes to global climate goals but also supports the well-being of Bhutan's population by ensuring access to clean air, water, and natural resources.

Bangladesh: Navigating Climate Vulnerability through Resilient Solutions

In contrast to Bhutan, Bangladesh faces significant challenges as a low-lying delta country highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Despite these obstacles, Bangladesh has emerged as a leader in implementing innovative solutions to enhance its resilience and sustainability.

Scaling up Renewable Energy Initiatives

Bangladesh has made significant strides in scaling up its renewable energy initiatives, particularly in the solar power sector. With a large rural population lacking access to reliable electricity, solar home systems have become a popular and effective way to bring power to off-grid communities. The government has also set ambitious targets for expanding its solar energy capacity, aiming to generate 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2021.

Furthermore, Bangladesh has been investing in offshore wind projects, recognizing the potential of this untapped resource to diversify its energy mix and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. By embracing a diverse range of renewable energy sources, Bangladesh is laying the groundwork for a more sustainable and resilient energy future.

Climate-Resilient Infrastructure and Adaptation

Given the country's susceptibility to extreme weather events and sea-level rise, Bangladesh has prioritized climate-resilient infrastructure and adaptation measures. This includes initiatives such as building elevated roads and embankments to protect against flooding, promoting climate-smart agriculture practices, and investing in early warning systems to enhance disaster preparedness.

Moreover, Bangladesh has been at the forefront of community-based adaptation efforts, empowering local communities to develop and implement their own resilience plans. By fostering grassroots resilience, Bangladesh is not only enhancing its ability to cope with climate-related challenges but also fostering a sense of ownership and empowerment among its citizens.

Lessons for the Global Community

The experiences of Bhutan and Bangladesh offer valuable insights for the global community as it grapples with the interconnected challenges of energy sustainability and climate resilience.

Integrated Approaches to Development

Bhutan's emphasis on holistic development, as encapsulated in the GNH framework, underscores the importance of considering social, environmental, and economic factors in decision-making. By adopting an integrated approach to development, countries can strive for meaningful progress that prioritizes the well-being of their citizens while safeguarding the planet.

Diversification of Energy Sources

Both Bhutan and Bangladesh demonstrate the benefits of diversifying energy sources to enhance resilience and sustainability. By tapping into a mix of renewable resources, including hydropower, solar, and wind, countries can reduce their vulnerability to supply disruptions and price fluctuations associated with fossil fuels. This diversification also contributes to a more stable and secure energy landscape.

Community Engagement and Empowerment

The community-oriented approaches taken by Bangladesh to build resilience highlight the importance of engaging and empowering local populations in resilience-building efforts. By involving communities in decision-making processes and investing in their capacity to adapt to climate impacts, countries can foster a sense of resilience from the ground up, ultimately strengthening their ability to weather future challenges.

International Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing

Finally, the experiences of Bhutan and Bangladesh underscore the value of international collaboration and knowledge sharing in advancing sustainable and resilient energy solutions. As countries across the globe work to address common environmental challenges, including climate change and energy transition, exchanging best practices and lessons learned can accelerate progress and foster a more connected global community.


The experiences of Bhutan and Bangladesh offer valuable lessons for the world as it seeks to navigate the complex intersection of energy, sustainability, and resilience. By embracing renewable energy, prioritizing environmental conservation, investing in climate-resilient infrastructure and adaptation, and engaging communities in resilience-building efforts, these countries have shown that it is possible to chart a path toward a more sustainable and resilient future. As the global community strives to address the pressing challenges of climate change and energy security, the innovative approaches of Bhutan and Bangladesh serve as beacons of inspiration, offering practical insights that can inform and shape the collective pursuit of a more sustainable and resilient world.

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