Bhutan’s only environmental NGO wins US$ 350,000 award

RSPN joins eleven other organizations in receiving the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions (MACEI)

The Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) of Bhutan is among the 11 non-profit organizations which were declared the winners of the 2010 MacArthur Foundation grants for its conservation works in the country.

“It is with great honour and pride that RSPN receives the US$ 350,000 MACEI award for proven creativity and effectiveness in nature conservation in Bhutan. It only strengthens our commitment and inspiration to continue our conservation work to foster equitable natural resource management policies and to ensure a sustainable natural environment for all Bhutanese people,” an RSPN press release said.

The awards ranged from US$ 350,000 to US$ 1mn and RSPN received a total amount of US$ 350,000. Of the total amount, US$ 200,000 will be added in the RSPN fund which will look after the operational cost. US$ 100,000 will be spent on establishing an environment research center which will have a research unit and a online library, and US$ 50,000 will be used for human resource capacity development.

“We have a long working relation with MacArthur organization and they have always supported our organization,” said the officiating executive director of RSPN, Tshering Lhamtshok.

To qualify for the award, organizations must demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness; have reached a critical or strategic point in their development; have budgets under $5 million; show strong leadership and stable financial management; have previously received MacArthur support; and engage in work central to one of MacArthur’s core programs.

“One of the main reasons why RSPN was selected was because of its less budget but huge impact,” said Tshering Lhamtshok.

Winners of the award with operating budgets under US$750,000 received the US$350,000 grant. Those with operating budgets between US$750,000 and US$1.5 million receive $500,000. Organizations with operating budgets between US$1.5mn and US$3mn receive US$750,000. And those with operating budgets between US$3mn and US$5mn receive US$1mn.

The eleven recipient organizations were from six countries including Bhutan. The other winners include Action Research & Training for Health, which promotes sexual health in Rajasthan, India; the Urban Institute’s Tax Policy Center in Washington; the San Francisco-based Bay Area Video Coalition, which teaches artists and filmmakers to use digital technology to inspire action. REDRESS in London, which fights for justice for torture survivors; the Social and Economic Rights Action Center in Lagos, Nigeria; and the Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer in Mexico City, which protects the rights of Mexican women.

The MacArthur foundation’s president, Robert Gallucci, said the awards recognized the creative work by the organizations that deal with hardest problems humanity faces.“These exceptional organizations effectively address pressing national and international challenges and they have had an impact that is disproportionate to their small size. The MacArthur Foundation is proud to recognize them.  It is our hope that these Awards will help position them for long-term growth and even greater impact in the years ahead,” said Robert Gallucci.

RSPN was founded in 1986 by Dasho Paljor J. Dorji, the then minister for National Environment Commission as a non- profit, non-governmental organization. Since then, under the royal patronage of His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, RSPN has been working in the fields of nature conservation, environmental education and endangered species research.

From water and natural resource management to alternative livelihoods and climate change issues, RSPN’s mission is to inspire personal responsibility for and active involvement in the conservation of the Kingdom’s environment through community action and education.

Currently, RSPN works in four locations focusing on endangered species, habitat loss, forest and land degradation, water quality problems, and emerging concerns such as climate change and solid waste management.

The MacArthur Foundation is a private, independent group that has assets of more than $5bn. It hands out about $220m in grants a year. The awards have been given since 2006 by the same group that bestows $500,000 no-strings-attached “genius grants” to individuals.

Source: Business Bhutan