March 15, Thimphu: The Hon’ble Sanam Lyonpo, Yeshey Penjor met Madam France Marquet, the Representative of South Asia Foundation (SAF) to UNESCO and the Principle Trustee of the Madanjeet Singh Foundation. The Agriculture Secretary, Dasho Rinzin Dorji was also present among others.
The meeting mainly discussed on the Man and Biosphere (MAB) Project and scholarships that is being currently supported by UNESCO Madanjeet Centre for South Asia Forestry Studies (UMCSAFS).
The Ministry has already developed a MAB project proposal for submission to UNESCO. MAB is an intergovernmental scientific programme aimed to set a scientific basis for enhancing relationships between people and their environment globally. Bhutan is a member of the sub-regional MAB network popularly known as South and Central Asia MAB Network (SACAM). It is important for Bhutan to have at least one biosphere reserve being a member of SACAM. Considering the importance, the Royal Botanical Park in Lampeiri has been identified as a Biospehere Reserve in 2018.
The MAB project in pipeline is also expected to help Bhutan to link up with the World Network of Biosphere Reserves to ensure the maximum benefit through exchange of experiences, expertise, technical knowhow, capacity building and promotion of best practices.
SAF has been funding the scholarship programme at UMCSAFS which was inaugurated in 2015 at Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research in Bumthang for students from SAARC countries to study at the College of Natural Resources, Lobeysa. Since the start of the program in 2012, twenty one students from South Asia has benefitted, out of which 10 scholarships were awarded to Bhutanese.
The meeting further discussed about the UNESCO heritage sites, renewal of memorandum of understanding and other relevant issues. Madam France Marquet assured the Ministry to offer the best possible support in funding the MAB project and scholarships. She shared that the seed money for the project will be routed through the Bhutan Jamchong Thuendrel Foundation, a local initiative started in February 2018 which functions as the Bhutanese chapter to SAF.
SAF is a secular and non-profit organisation founded by UNESCO goodwill ambassador late Madanjeet Singh in September 2000. It ensures the regional cooperation and peace through education and cultural interaction between the eight SAARC countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bhutan.
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