In other words…

Oceans for Bhutan

I am in New York attending the Annual Parliamentary Hearing at United Nations Headquarters. It is a parliamentary conference on SDG 14: Life Below Oceans. The theme is ‘Preserving the oceans, safeguarding planet, ensuring human well-being in the context of the 2030 Agenda.
I made the following interventions today.
The participation of delegates from a mountain country in a conference on oceans may sound anachronistic. It isn’t! Our participation has three primary objectives.
1) As parliamentarians, we need to keep ourselves abreast of all important SDG discourses at the global level. Although we are a small country, we take our international obligations seriously. What happens in the Indian Ocean or Bay of Bengal has consequences in the Himalayas.
2) We are deeply appreciative of the interconnection and interdependence of life-forms. What happens in the marine eco-systems is not exclusive from what happens in terrestrial eco-systems. In Bhutan’s perspective, preservation of all life-forms, marine or terrestrial, is important not from the perspective of human well-being. Our primary consideration for preservation of life is not how much protein supply we need, how much trees and beaches are available for tourists etc. Our consideration is not incidental to human well-being but the basis of respect for all life forms as equal stakeholders in marine and terrestrial eco-system.
3) What happens in the Bay of Bengal is of concern to us. We hope that those of you in the Atlantic and Pacific would be equally concerned about what happens in the Andes or Himalayas. We cannot pretend that there is no interconnection. As a society dependent on agriculture for livelihood and on hydropower for our economy, the health of oceans and related issues of global warming and climate change are very important to us.
4) In the language of international politics, vocabularies like sacrifice and compassion may not have any place. The basis of international politics is self-interest. However, the international community must make allowance for leadership transcending national self-interest. In Bhutan, we have made sacrifices by overlooking benefits of development to preserve the environment and life-forms, floral and faunal, which benefits people beyond Bhutan.
5) We have legally committed to require 60% of our land cover under forests and to remain carbon-neutral for all times to come (although we are carbon negative for the moment). The concern of being a small nation and exigencies of development has not prevented us from making sacrifices so that the global community not only takes note of but also benefits. 
6) We thus support international initiatives like the one by IPU and UN to preserve oceans as home of aquatic lives, and also as the basis of all life-forms. It is in this context that we, from the mountains, participate in the conference on oceans and life below water.


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