Bhutan is a small state in the Himalayas. And we were formerly called Shangri-la, And even another Shangri-la. But let me tell you something new, we are not Shangri-la. My country is not a big monastery Haunted by happy monks. The reality is that there are 700,000 people of us Between two of the world's most densely populated countries, China and India. The reality is that we are a small developing country And do what we can to live. But we work well. And live. In fact, we are thriving. The reason for our prosperity is that we are blessed With extraordinary kings. Our enlightened kings worked without fatigue To develop our country, Balances accurately between economic development And social development, and environmental sustainability And preserving our culture, All within good governance. We call this sacred path of evolution "Gross National Happiness" or GNH. In the 1970s, Our fourth king publicly affirmed that the most important for Bhutan, Is gross national happiness of gross national product and since then, All development is managed by measuring the overall national happiness It is a pioneering vision aimed at improving happiness And well-being of our people.
But it's easier said than done, Especially when you are one of the smallest economies in the world. Our total GDP is less than $ 2 billion. And I know that some people here have more value - Individually More than the macroeconomics in my country. So, our economy is small, But here is the thrill. Education is completely free, Free schooling is guaranteed for all citizens, Those who work hard are given free university education. Health care is free for everyone too. Medical consultations, medical treatment and medicine: All provided by the state. We manage this Because we use our limited resources very carefully, And also because we remain faithful to our core mission of total national happiness, They develop with values. Our economy is small and we must strengthen it. And economic growth is important, But economic growth should not be at the expense of our individual culture Or our ancient environment. Today, our culture is flourishing.
And we continue to celebrate our arts and engineering, And our food and holidays, And our monks and monasteries. And yes, we celebrate our national costume too. So I can wear Zi Guo proudly. The fun fact: You look at the biggest pocket in the world. Where it starts here, Around the back, And coming out from here, And in this pocket we save All forms of personal materials From your phone and wallet Computers, office files and books. But sometimes - Sometimes even some precious material. So, our civilization is flourishing, As well as our environment. 72% of my country is covered by forests. Our constitution stipulates a minimum of 60% Of the total land of Bhutan is covered by forests.
Our Constitution, This Constitution, Imposing forest cover. By chance our king used this constitution To impose democracy on us. Well, we citizens did not want democracy, We didn't ask for it, we didn't confirm it, We certainly did not fight for it. On the contrary, our king imposed democracy on us By insisting on its inclusion in the Constitution. But he went further. That made provisions in the Constitution Empower the people to try their kings, He included provisions here requiring the retirement of kings When they reach 65 years of age. (clap) In fact we now have a retired king. Our former king, the fourth great, He retired 10 years ago When he was at the height of his popularity. He was 51 at the time. as I was saying, 72% of our country is covered by forests, They are all ancient forests. So we are one of the few remaining countries Globally as an important point of biodiversity, So we are a carbon neutral country.
In a world threatened by climate change, We are a carbon neutral country. And that means it's good. From almost 200 countries in the world today, Looks like we're the only country Carbon neutral. In fact, this is not accurate. Bhutan is not carbon neutral. Butane is carbon-negative. Our whole country produces 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide, But our forests absorb more than three times that amount, So we're a big carbon sink To more than four million tons of carbon dioxide annually.
but, this is not every thing. We export most renewable electricity We produce from our fast-flowing rivers. So today our exports of clean energy are exported Around 6 million tons of carbon dioxide in our neighbors. In 2020 we will produce enough electricity To reduce 17 million tons of carbon dioxide. And if we could use even half of our hydropower capacity And that's exactly what we're working on now, The green clean energy we export It will reduce approximately 50 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. This is more carbon than New York City produces annually.
So in our own country we are a pure carbon sink. Abroad, we cut carbon. This is important. You see that the world is getting hotter, Climate change is a reality. Climate change affects my country. Our glaciers are melting. Causing flash floods and superficial drifts, Which, in turn, cause disasters and destruction in my country. I was at this lake recently. It was amazing, How it looked like 10 years ago, And so it was 20 years ago. This lake did not exist 20 years ago. It was an ice river. A few years ago a lake arose like her Destroying the dam on it Everything was destroyed in the valleys afterwards.
All this destruction was caused by a lake caused by a melting glacier. And we have 2700 of them we have to deal with. The idea is: That my country and my people did nothing Contributes to global warming, But we are now bearing the brunt of its consequences. For a small, impoverished country isolated from the sea and mountain, The situation is very difficult. But we will not sit and hold our hands and do nothing We will fight climate change. So Article source we made a promise to remain carbon neutral. We made this first promise in 2009 During the meeting of the parties in Copenhagen, But no one noticed. Governments were busy discussing among themselves Blaming each other for causing climate change, And when a small country raised his hand and announced, "We promise you that we will always be carbon neutral." No one heard us. No one cared. And last December in Paris, At Conference 21, we confirmed and promised To remain carbon neutral for all times to come.
This time, listen to us. They noticed us and everyone cared about it. What was different in Paris is that governments have come closer together To accept the facts of climate change, I became ready to come together and interact together and work together. All countries from very small to very large Committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It provides the structure of the United Nations Climate Change Agreement That maintaining the so-called obligations involved will contribute to, Reducing global warming Two degrees Celsius. By the way, I have asked the TED organizers here By increasing the temperature here by two degrees, So if some of you feel too warm, Will know who Silom. It is very important that we all keep our promises. As far as Bhutan is concerned, We will keep our promise to remain carbon neutral Here are some of the methods you do for it. We provide free electricity to our rural farmers. The idea is that with free electricity, they don't need to use firewood Again to cook their food. We invest in sustainable transport And financially support the purchase of electric vehicles. We also subsidize the cost of LED lamps All our government is moving towards excluding paper use.
We clean our entire country through the Clean Bhutan Program, a national program. We plant trees all over our country Through green Bhutan, It is another national program. But our protected areas Is at the heart of our carbon neutral strategy. Our protected areas are the carbon sink. Are our lungs. Today, more than half of our country is protected, Such as national parks and reserves And wildlife reserves. But the nice thing is that we linked them together Through biological networks and corridors. Currently, that means That animals are free to roam in our country. Take this tiger, for example It is located 250 meters above sea level In sub-tropical hot forests.
Two years later, the same tiger It is located at about 4000 meters In our cold mountains like the Alps. Isn't that great? We must keep things that way. We must keep our parks wonderful. So we put aside some resources to prevent random fishing: And drilling mines and pollution in our parks. Resources to help communities living in these parks, To take care of their forests, And adapt to climate change, And practice their lives better while continuing to live in harmony with Mother Nature. But this costs dearly. Over the next few years, our small economy will not have the resources To cover all the costs required to protect the environment. The fact is that when we see the numbers, It looks like we'll need at least 15 years Before we can fund all conservation efforts.
But, not Bhutan, And not the world They can afford 15 years back That is why His Majesty the King To launch Bhutan's life program. Bhutan's Lifetime Program saves us the time we need. It gives us breathing space. It is the basis of the funding mechanism To take care of our parks, To protect our parks Until the time when our government can take over. The idea is to collect a transition balance From private, corporate and institutional donors, The deal is closed only after pre-conditions are completed All funds are committed. Any multiple destinations and one appointment: The idea we quoted from Wall Street. This means that individual donors can commit without fear That they would support a plan without adequate funding. It's something like the first installment project, However, its horizon is limited to 15 years Millions of tons of carbon dioxide are at stake. When the deal is closed, We use this transition credit to protect our parks, And give our government time to gradually increase its self-financing Until the end of the 15-year period.
And then our government guarantees full funding forever. And here we are almost there. We expect the project to be closed by the end of this year. It's natural to be very enthusiastic. The WWF is our main partner on this journey, And I want to give them a big greeting For the excellent work they do in Bhutan And around the world. Wow, it's getting hot. Thank you for listening to our story, Our story of how we stick to our promise to remain carbon neutral, Our story of how to keep our country virgin, For ourselves and for our children, For your children and for the earth.
But we're not here to tell stories, right? We are here to dream together. In conclusion, I would like to share with you other dreams I have, What if we could mobilize our leadership and resources, And raised us and our sympathy, To reproduce the idea of the Bhutanese program of life in other countries So that they too To protect their protected areas at all times. Especially since there are many other countries facing the same problems we face. They also have natural resources That can help them win the world in a battle of sustainability. But they may not be able to invest in them now, But, what if we put a program like Earth for life, A global fund to push a project like Bhutan for life to include the whole world? I invite you to help me, To convey this dream beyond our borders To all those who are interested in the future of our planet.
And anyway, we're here to dream together, And we work together, We fight climate change together, to protect our planet together. Because the reality is That we are together. Some of us may wear different clothes, But we're in it together