News | 01 Feb, 2023

CMS VATAVARAN Festival & Forum on Climate Action and Biodiversity Conservation celebrated in Bhutan

From 2-7 November 2022, the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) in collaboration with the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) and Canadian High Commission to India, Bhutan & Nepal organized the first-ever Festival and Forum on Climate Action and Biodiversity Conservation celebrated in Bhutan. This event aimed to facilitate youth participation in planning, policy and action in conservation and was attended by more than 1,000 participants.

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Photo: CMS VATAVARAN Festival & Forum

Bhutan, “Land of The Thunder Dragon”, hosted the first-ever "CMS VATAVARAN Festival & Forum on Climate Action and Biodiversity Conservation". The festival screened a total of 25 national and international award-winning films from different parts of the world on various relevant environmental issues like climate change & adaptation and mitigation, wildlife conservation, water conservation, forest conservation and sustainable livelihood.

During the inaugural ceremony, “Bhutan CMS VATAVARAN Green Ambassador Awards” was given to two Bhutanese environmentalists Dr Rebecca Pradhan, senior ecologist and botanist at the Royal Society for Protection of Nature Bhutan and Dr Nawang Norbu, Executive Director (Vice-President) of Bhutan Ecological Society for their contribution in the field of Biodiversity Conservation in Bhutan. The ceremony was followed by a series of panel discussions, film screenings, seminars, green filmmaking workshops and master classes and short film competitions focusing on the environmental, social and economic aspects of climate change and biodiversity conservation in the Greater Himalayan Region.

Several eminent speakers, including CEC leaders, participated in this festival. Sean Southey, CEC Chair, was part of a first panel discussion conducted on the issue of “Climate Change challenges to sustainable agriculture, tourism, biodiversity and natural resources conservation in Bhutan”. This panel was moderated by Dr Vasanti Rao, CEC Nature Education for Sustainability Co-Chair & South and Southeastern Asia Regional Vice Chair, who is also the Director General of CMS. Mr. Southey and Dr. Rao also conducted a Media Seminar on Communicating Conservation.

CEC at the South and Southeastern Asia region

Bhutan is located in South Asia and is landlocked between India, China and Nepal is the only Carbon Negative country in the world that sits on the southern slope of the Himalayas and is known for its serene natural environment and pure air quality. Bhutan is a Global Biodiversity hotspot that constitutes rich biodiversity with endangered wildlife species. It has rich mountain ecosystems and a natural diverse environment. For the people of Bhutan, mountains are sacred and forests are important for the country. In fact, the conservation of their ecosystems is one of the pillars of their Happiness Index, a unique measurement of the success of a nation.

Despite this, the Himalayas are a serious victim of climate change. The consequences of the change will be hard for many of the people in the region. Melting ice and decreasing ice reserves indicate a disastrous future for those who rely on the Himalayas for water sources. The Himalayas are also the source of life for millions - economics, socially and culturally.

In this context, IUCN CEC and CMS VATAVARAN acknowledge the importance of educating and training the younger generation on climate change and biodiversity conservation. Facilitating youth participation in planning, policy and action in conserving the rich natural resources and environmental heritage of the Greater Himalayan Region is imperative for the wellbeing of this region. We look forward to continued work in Bhutan and the region. Our next Film Festival and Forum will be in Goa, India in March 2023. Join us if you can!