Bhutan for Life; preserving the last Shangri-La

By Laura Mackay

Famous for measuring national wellbeing in terms of gross national happiness rather than GDP, and for its breathtaking mountains and valleys dotted with orange monks, it comes as no surprise that Bhutan has been labelled the ‘last Shangri-La.’ Moreover, since its decision to embrace the rest of the world, Bhutan has lived up to its moniker in more ways that one. The launch of Bhutan for Life, in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), involves a realistic and practical acknowledgment of the importance of maintaining Bhutan’s pristine environment but Bhutan’s current financial inability to do so. Bhutan has calculated it needs approximately US$40 million over the next fifteen years in order to implement an effective conservation strategy, which is money it simply does not have. Rather than entering a competitive market for foreign aid, Bhutan for Life has instead utilised an innovative Kickstarter-like model modified for both the need for long-term funding and the anticipation of a growing economy.

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