Bhutan counts 20 Dzongkhags and a population of 754,588 people. LoCAL is engaged in 100 Gewogs in Bhutan.

Climate Vulnerability:

As a least developed, mountainous and landlocked country, Bhutan is extremely vulnerable to climate change. The country's infrastructures are regularly put to the test by landslides. The rise in temperatures puts strain on livestock, agriculture and biodiversity. Due to the rapid increase in melting of glaciers, there is an increased risks of glacier-lake bursting.

National Response

Bhutan is a carbon-negative country and has internationally pledged to remain carbon-neutral, embarking on a policy of green economic development. Bhutan’s intended nationally determined contribution priority adaptation actions include:

- increasing resilience to the impacts of climate change on water security through integrated water resource management.
- promoting climate-resilient agriculture to contribute towards achieving food and nutrition security.
- sustainable forest management and conservation of biodiversity.
- and, strengthening resilience to climate change–induced hazards.

Bhutan also is formulating its first national adaptation plan. Notably, the Local Governance Sustainable Development Programme initiated in 2013 assists local governments in implementing block grants allocated for sustainable local community development, while developing their capacity for good governance and improved public service delivery. LoCAL support is embedded in this programme.



Bhutan was one of the first countries to pilot LoCAL globally in 2011. Since then, LoCAL, though the Local Governance Support Programme, has rolled out to 100 gewogs (districts) across 16 of the country's 20 dzongkhags (provinces) as part of a national scale-up undertaken in partnership with the European Union and the UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative. The LoCAL experience in Bhutan is used as a model that is being replicated in communities worldwide.

In Bhutan, approximately 87 per cent of investments targeted infrastructure projects in the water and sanitation, transport and storage, and agriculture sectors. The climate proofing of critical infrastructure mostly entailed stabilization structures and proper drainage systems for rural roads to withstand erosion and landslide risks, rehabilitation/ conservation of water points and water supply, distribution and storage facilities to prevent their drying up and deterioration, and improvement of local (earthen) irrigation systems.

With EU budget support, the Government of Bhutan committed $7 million to support LoCAL national scale-up, allowing the country to replicate the PBCRG system in 100 of its 205 gewogs. For fiscal year 2020/2021, approximately US $1.9 million was allocated as PBCRGs to the 100 gewogs.

100 Gewogs engaged

300 Adaptation investments

206,588 Beneficiaries

Budget: 1,9 Million USD

Action on Climate Change:

Since 2012, more than 300 small-scale investments have been realized through PBCRGs in 100 gewogs, 165 of which in 2020. The following are among the core adaptation priorities financed to date:

■ Infrastructure works aimed at improving farm roads for enhanced climate resilience – this involved slope stabilization of landslide-vulnerable areas, rectification/improvement of the drainage system and construction of a causeway.

■ Construction of elevated bridges to overcome risks posed by swollen rivers and streams during heavy rain events

■ Improvement of rural water supply schemes – this involved tapping new/additional water sources, protecting water sources and their enhancement through planting water-conserving species, upgrading water tanks to increase storage capacity, and/or replacement of water supply lines with climate-resilient materials

■ Community water harvesting and improvement of irrigation systems by rehabilitating irrigation channels and installing climate-resilient pipes to distribute irrigation water more effectively and improve agricultural productivity and farm livelihoods

■ Soil conservation and landslide risk mitigation works, such as planting bamboo and hedgerows and contour bunding to prevent soil erosion and protect agricultural lands

■ Development of stormwater drainage to mitigate flood and landslide risks to farmlands, schools, homes and other public and private properties in rural areas



The overall goal of the LoCAL-Bhutan initiative is to improve the adaptive capacity and resilience of local communities to climate change with increased access to climate change adaptation financing through performance-based climate resilience grants (PBCRGs). The programme’s core objectives are to ensure that dzongkhags and gewogs can accomplish the following:

  • Respond to the increasing impact of climate change on local livelihoods and livelihood assets in accordance with community prioritized needs and vulnerabilities in a sustainable manner.
  • Promote robust, transparent and accountable public financial management/public expenditure management systems by providing funds to make the local planning and budgeting process meaningful, efficient, effective and participatory with particular emphasis on strengthening incentives for integrating climate change adaptation needs in local investments.
  • Train participating local governments to develop their knowledge and skills for planning and integration of climate change adaptation in local development investments


  • Bhutan and Cambodia were the first countries selected by LoCAL to pilot PBCRGs; their
    efforts served to validate the approach. LoCAL-Bhutan was initiated in 2011 in two gewogs in two dzongkhags. It has since been extended to 100 gewogs across 16 of the country’s 20 dzongkhags with budgetary support from the European Union (EU) and technical support from LoCAL.

  • LoCAL’s successful integration in the Local Governance Sustainable Development Programme has been instrumental in supporting local governments in developing and rolling out guidelines, supporting participatory climate vulnerability assessments and integration of adaptation in local development planning, and raising awareness.

  • LoCAL grants effectively apply existing national capital grant rules and regulations for allocating, channelling and reporting on funds while strengthening the overall intergovernmental fiscal transfer system and piloting innovative features (e.g. for performance measurement).

  • The Assessing Climate Change Adaptation Framework (ACCAF) was successfully piloted in Bhutan and is now being rolled out to other LoCAL countries.

  • The Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (BTFEC) was nominated as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) national implementing entity with a view to scaling up LoCAL. With LoCAL support, the BTFEC was accredited in early 2020. LoCAL and the BTFEC are collaborating to submit a concept note to the GCF to support Phase III.

Way Forward

  1. Integrate PBCRGs as a mechanism of climate change adaptation governance in an Adaptation Fund project proposal being developed by the BTFEC.
  2. Develop a GCF funding proposal for a nation-wide roll-out of PBCRGs covering all 205 gewogs in the country and develop complementary capacity of local governments to mainstream climate adaptation and implement grants effectively and efficiently. This plan will be pursued in parallel with LoCAL support of the BTFEC in securing accreditation as a GCF national implementing agency.
  3. Readiness and capacity development support by LoCAL to the BTFEC and other national and subnational stakeholders as they prepare for direct access to the GCF and the Adaptation Fund.
  4. Update the performance assessment manual, climate change adaptation planning and the investment menu in response to the needs of scaling-up PBCRGs and taking into account recent changes in annual capital grant financing to local governments. Explore linking PBCRG performance assessment in the overall Government Performance Management System so that the mechanism becomes internalized and sustainable.
  5. Assessment by the World Resources Institute to document and evaluate how climate finance has been reaching the local level in Bhutan and its effectiveness in achieving adaptation results through LoCAL. This assessment will include early support through the LoCAL facility as well as its integration into broader programming and subsequent scale-up. It will especially focus on documenting whether and how local-level climate finance is making a tangible impact on individuals and communities on the ground. This evidence can be used by the government and other relevant partners to highlight the results of action already taken, learn from experience, make the case for channelling additional finance to the local level for adaptation, and showcase Bhutan’s pioneering work in this area.


Climate change adaptation falls within the core mandate of community councils, along with land use planning, natural resource management and infrastructure development. Climate change adaptation requires effective coordination of various stakeholders. As a gateway for development facilitation at the local level as well as custodians of all development, community councils are strategically positioned to play this coordination role. However, community councils seldom have sufficient resources to execute these functions.

The overall outcome of LoCAL-Lesotho is to improve the climate change resilience of the communities in the selected councils as a result of climate change adaptation activities funded through the performance-based climate resilience grant (PBCRG) and capacity development support. By promoting climate change–resilient communities and economies via increasing financing for and investment in climate change adaptation at the local level, LoCAL-Lesotho will directly contribute to one of the country’s development plan pillars – reversing environmental degradation and adapting to climate change.

The objectives for LoCAL-Lesotho are as follows:

• Increased transfer of climate finance to local governments through national institutions and systems for building verifiable climate change adaptation and resilience

• A standard and recognized country-based mechanism which supports direct access to international climate finance

Four outputs are envisaged:

(i) inclusive and accountable climate change adaptation is mainstreamed into local council planning;

(ii) government, local authority and population awareness of and capacities in adaptation and resilience planning are improved;

(iii) an effective country PBCRG finance mechanism is established and operational, providing additional funding to targeted community councils; and

(iv) experience and lessons learned are consolidated and shared.waiting results of annual performance assessment (APA). Lessons are being drawn from the LoCAL pilot to expand the LoCAL and its PBCRG mechanism to additional community councils in Lesotho and to attract additional finance to be channelled through the LoCAL mechanism to finance locally led adaptation and increase resilience of communities and local economies. This intends to prepare for a fully integrated mechanism into the country systems and a scaling-up country-wide.



Way forward

Stories from the Field


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