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Understanding the policy contexts for mainstreaming climate change in Bhutan and Nepal; a synthesis

This report is a synthesis of two Adaptation Knowledge Platform studies that sought to understand the policy contexts for addressing climate change adaptation and key conservation issues in Nepal and Bhutan. These two Himalayan countries have significant commonalities and differences. Nepal and Bhutan are both mountainous, landlocked Himalayan countries sandwiched between China and India and covering a similar landmass. Set on the Himalayan slopes, both countries are seeing tangible signs of climate change already; most notably, shrinking glaciers. The two countries have predominantly rural populations whose heavy reliance on agriculture and forests makes them particularly vulnerable to climate change. Both have undergone dramatic political changes in recent years. However, while the transition was peaceful in Bhutan, Nepal spent a decade in turmoil. Furthermore, Bhutan, with an area around 47,000 km2 is roughly a third of the size of Nepal, but has less than one-fortieth of the population, and almost three times the forest cover. Bhutan is also developing and overcoming poverty much faster; so, while Nepal’s per capita annual gross national income was $540 in 2011, Bhutan’s gross national income for the same year was $2070.3. The purpose of this synthesis is to compare the policy contexts for mainstreaming climate change adaptation in Bhutan and Nepal, and to draw lessons that might help improve policies in the two countries and beyond.