How Three Small Countries Are Teaching The World About Sustainable Energy

How Three Small Countries Are Teaching The World About Sustainable Energy
Bhutan has nearly 72 percent of its land under forests Photo Credit: Shutterstock

They are three of the world’s smallest nations – Bhutan, Suriname and Panama – but they have taught countries many times their size, a lesson in how to implement sustainable energy

OT Staff
April 22 , 2022
03 Min Read

At the COP 26 United Nation Climate Change Conference hosted by the UK last year, participating nations adopted the Glasgow Climate Pact, aiming to turn the 2020s into a decade of climate action and support. 

The participants, among other things, agreed to strengthen efforts to build resilience to climate change, to curb greenhouse gas emissions and to provide the necessary finance for both. They collectively agreed to work to reduce the gap between existing emission reduction plans and what is required to reduce emissions, so that the rise in the global average temperature can be limited to 1.5 degrees.


But did you know that three of the world’s smallest nations – Bhutan, Suriname and Panama – stood out from the rest by showing that they absorb more greenhouse gas than they emit?

The only three to seal the Carbon Negative Alliance in Glasgow, they have been dubbed ‘the holy trinity of negative carbon’ by many.

Here’s a look at what makes these three countries special.


This Himalayan nation is known for its dramatic landscapes, ranging from snow-capped peaks to valleys to subtropical plains, from rivers to dense forests. The nation has designated conservation of the environment as one of the four pillars of its Gross National Happiness philosophy. According to the constitution, Bhutan must preserve 60 percent of its forest. Reports say that currently, the country has nearly 72 percent of its land under forest.

This Himalayan nation has wisely invested in its renewable resources and managed to cut down its carbon emission. While the large tracts of natural forest absorb carbon dioxide, Bhutan’s main source of electricity is its renewable hydropower. While the forests absorb more than nine million tonnes of carbon di oxide a year, Bhutan’s carbon emission is less than four million tonnes a year. Thomson Reuters Foundation quoted Sonam Wangdi, secretary of Bhutan’s National Environment Commission, as saying, "We are showing the world what we can do if we have the political will.”


The smallest of the sovereign states in South America, Suriname is a tropical country, covered by rainforests. According to World Bank reports, 97 percent of Suriname’s land is covered by lush natural forest.

Although economically dependent on natural resources, including agricultural products, bauxite, gold and petrochemicals, Suriname has managed to enter the carbon negative club by protecting its forests, which act as a carbon sink. The nation has managed to create huge tracts of protected conservation areas with help from the indigenous people.


This Central American country, on the border of South America, is known for its mountains and rivers, and its tropical environment.

The country has been able to stem the destruction of its forest cover and now has over 60 percent of its land under forest cover. According to reports, Panama is planning to reforest another 50, 000 hectares by 2050. It has also been reported that the country has planned to phase out heavy fuels and coal by 2023. According to media reports, President Cortizo Cohen highlighted the country’s interest in rethinking mitigation goals and climate action, to maintain carbon-negativity status. In addition, he highlighted that a Low Carbon Economic and Social Development Strategy is being worked on.

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