The world’s first environmental conservation Fund - BHUTAN TRUST FUND FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION (BTFEC) - held an event at the Hotel Le Méridien, Thimphu yesterday. The event was yet another first for the world’s pioneering fund specifically founded for the conservation of the nation’s natural environment. In an era of exclusion and elimination, the event brought together a gaggle of personae from practically every walk of life - regulators, environmentalists, educationists, photographers, members of the bureaucracy, financiers, UN workers, hoteliers, college students, a large troupe of aid workers from NGOs, a motley of journalists from the fourth estate, including a surprise package in the form of Dr. Sean Watson of the Mountain Hazelnut Project fame.
Truly an event that can be said to be a result of the out-of-box thinking by the management team headed by a brand new CEO in the person of Dr. Karma Tshering, the BTFEC has initiated a groundbreaking initiative that we hope other similar institutions will want to replicate. That said, I hope it does not turn out to be a flash-in-the-pan kind of thing - I hope they stay the course over the long haul.
The event saw participation from a staggering 74 participants - excluding the Foundation officials and staff. If numbers matter, it should speak sufficiently for the popularity and relevance of the event. Inviting the Foundation’s Founder - Dasho Benji Dorji - to speak at the event was a nice touch. But I was sorely disappointed that the BTFEC forgot the past CEOs of the Foundation without whose competent contributions the BTEFC would not be where it is today. I noticed the same lack of social grace during the celebration of the Tourism Council of Bhutan’s 50th Year Anniversary at the Dusit Hotel in 2021. Then too they forgot the pioneering players and trailblazers of the industry who are still alive and contributing vigorously to the growth of the country’s most vital industry - the peerless tourism industry.
I hope people will remember that our present is innately linked to our yesterday - and our today will define our tomorrow.
The discussions and recommendations that ensued during the event were truly meaningful and it is my hope that they would serve as a road map for the BTFEC. It is also my hope that they would make such gatherings a calendar event - so that they can feel the pulse of their aspiring collaborators of the future.
Three of my submissions to the BTFEC during the event were:
1. Please choose your partners wisely;
2. Please reassess your past projects so that you avoid known pitfalls; and
3. Please institute a Reward scheme for the proven environmental champions of the country
- not a reward for the already rewarded.
My formula for success has always been that we should attempt many, many small and manageable undertakings that are within our financial and technical competence, instead of attempting large enterprises that are outside our capability. It is my hope that the BTFEC would see merit in espousing minor players as well - even as they muddy the waters with big and mighty fish in the rivers.
I have it on authority that the management of the BTFEC did send out invitations to all of the past CEOs of the Fund, for their presence at the event. Unfortunately, none of them could make it - given their prior engagement elsewhere.