RC’s statement for International Day against Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking (June 26, 2018 at Paro)
“An estimated 68 percent of the people who use drugs and substances get them from their peers and another 16 percent get drugs and substances through cross border exchange. Cannabis users account for 72 percent of the total number of drug users in Bhutan.”– Bhutan Vulnerability Baseline Assessment, 2016 by Gross National Happiness Commission and United Nations in Bhutan.
Your Excellency Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk, Minister for Health. Dasho Phuntsho Wangdi, Director General of Bhutan Narcotics Control Agency. Dashos, principals, school counselors. Ladies and Gentlemen.
The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was established by the United Nations General Assembly to strengthen global action and cooperation.
The international community continues to face many problems that stand in the way of achieving the aim of a world without drug abuse. There is the opioid crisis and other urgent drug use problems, compounded by gaps in health and social services that leave far too many people without the help they need; illicit drug cultivation and trafficking; related crime and violence, and linkages with development challenges, conflict and terrorism.
But as daunting as these problems are, all of us can do our part and take action. Policy makers first and foremost, but also concerned citizens, parents, teachers and engaged young people – we can work together to prevent substance abuse, and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and ensure that no one is left behind.
We at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are committed to working with you to advance balanced, people-centred and holistic approaches to drug challenges, fully in line with the universal drug control conventions.
“Listen First”, the theme of this year’s International Day, is a UNODC initiative to increase support for prevention of drug use that is based on science.
Research suggests that early-to late adolescence is a critical risk period for the initiation of substance use. By breaking the chain of social, neurobiological and psychological factors and inequalities that can increase susceptibility to drug use disorders, we can help young people to grow up healthy and safe.
When we are talking about the lives and futures of the next generation, prevention is truly better than cure.
By listening to the needs of children and young people, prevention can contribute to their safety, health and well-being, and enable them realize their potential. All our societies would be better off if more resources were devoted to supporting evidence-based drug prevention strategies, which are a sound and effective investment in families, schools and communities.
The police reported that more than 98% of the arrest related to drugs were youth The World Health Organization’s report (2017) on mental health status of adolescent in South-East Asia reports Bhutan to have the highest number of adolescents currently using marijuana at 12 percent among the 11 countries in the WHO South-East Asia region.
This year, in just two months (January to mid- March), 27 drug traffickers and 71 drug abusers were caught by the police in Thimphu alone. These numbers are quite alarming for a small population.
The United Nations in Bhutan is of the view that the most effective way to prevent substance abuse among adolescents and youth is to enhance their participation and engagement in social and civic life.
The UN has developed a framework for harmonized approach and communication among relevant agencies to address issues related to use of alcohol and other drugs among youth in Bhutan.
A Child Protection in Emergencies manual has also been developed to facilitate school counsellors and youth volunteers in providing better psychosocial support to children during emergencies.
The UN with partner agencies provide life skills training for young people (both in and out-of-school) focusing on vulnerable youth and skills development on drug education and livelihood skills for recovering clients/staff.
Youth Networks – to accelerate services to youth in regional and national level, various youth networks have been set up in different districts across Bhutan.
As a part of a global leader to fight against illicit drugs and international crime, the United Nations, collaborated in organizing a training on preventing drug overdose by building capacities of health care professionals and organized a workshop on promoting the implementation of the Trafficking Protocol and the Smuggling Protocol.
What are the action that are needed?
The Bhutan Vulnerability Baseline Assessment, 2016 by Gross National Happiness Commission and United Nations in Bhutan recommends full and effective implementation of the Multi-sectoral National Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable diseases (2015-2020). The action plan involves a multi-sectoral approach and will need strong coordination and mobilization of adequate funds to implement the action plan.
There is a need to increase the number of rehabilitation centers and develop short-term activities and skills trainings which can be used to constructively engage individuals coming in for counseling and rehabilitation.
We must strengthen the number of skilled and qualified counselors by developing a short-term course on ‘counseling and rehabilitation therapy.’
We also need to engage those seeking counseling and rehabilitation support as peer counselors and role models who can work in the community and reduce the incidence of substance use. These peer counselors can also help with post rehabilitation support for others.
The Child Care and Protection Act, 2011 is the paramount Act for children, hence, a further review of existing laws while trying persons under 18 years who are accused of carrying or consumption of banned substances is recommended.
During His Majesty’s speech graduates on their convocation, His Majesty emphasized on five extraordinary qualities that defines the Bhutanese. These are five extraordinary qualities that you possess.
The acronym for these extraordinary qualities of the Bhutanese people- Sincerity, Mindfulness, Astuteness, Resilience, and Timelessness- is SMART. Bhutan has always been a smart nation. That is why we must continue to build smart institutions, and that is why it is imperative that our people remain smart. We must nurture these wonderful qualities and remember every day, how they have defines us as a nation and as a people. We must remember that these qualities will help us navigate the 21st century and build an even better place. Our country has an extremely bright future and that future is in your hands.
Our efforts to promote development and fight drugs and crime will be more effective if they are rooted in partnerships with the youth, civil society organizations, government ministries and the international community.
I would like to conclude by urging each one of us, the next time you come in contact with a friend, partner, relative, or anyone else who might be struggling with addiction. ‘Sem Ghi Hingley Ngyen Go.’ Compassionate listening is powered by generosity. It is a virtue we can grow so it becomes instinctive. It has a vulnerability because its willing to be surprised, even sometimes, a willingness to change our minds we want to understand the humanity of the other through their words. As far as I can see, it is a cornerstone for compassion.
Kardrinche and Tashi Delek
UN Resident Coordinator’s address to the members of the National Council on 6 June 2018
“I have always maintained that the destiny of the country lies in the hands of our people. The time has come for us now to draw up a written Constitution and establish a political system which will enable the Bhutanese people to shoulder this sacred responsibility.” His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
Honorable Chairperson of the National Council, Thri-zin Tashi Dorji, Members of the National Council, Secretary General of the National Council, Colleagues.
May I take this auspicious opportunity by wishing each Honorable member a heartiest Tashi Delek for being elected to represent your people in the highest legislative body in the country.
The UN has had the privilege of supporting the democratic transition in Bhutan since the introduction of democracy in 2008. We are honored to have been your partner. It has also been our honour to have been working in partnership with your leadership and citizenship since you acceded to the UN in 1971.
The UN has watched and witnessed the rapid pace of development within the Parliament. The willingness to learn and grow by both the Secretariats of the Parliament under the leadership of the Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council, guided by the wisdom of His Majesty has been inspiring.
Over the years, the Parliament of Bhutan has been successful in presenting an image of a modern and progressive Bhutan globally. This comes as a great advantage to the Honorable members, especially at a time when global leadership is sometimes found wanting.
Global leadership is today internationally influenced by populism, protectionism and nationalism. While the causes are multiple and deep-rooted, the critical antidote is good leadership. The best leaders are seen lead by facing the future, by framing its challenges, commanding confidence, building coalitions, debating with integrity and transparency, and delivering with an inclusive vision.
We, as the UN in Bhutan, hope to continue to support you as you carry out your eminent and profound role amongst the visionary leaders of this great country.
UNITED NATIONS IN BHUTAN
I wear a number of hats but my first one is as Resident Coordinator of the 8 UN agencies based in Bhutan and another 12 that regularly visit Bhutan (eg. the work of ESCAP and UNEP etc.)
8 Resident Agencies
FAO, led by Chadho Tenzin,
UNDP, (my 2nd hat is the RR; on a daily basis UNDP is led by Niamh Collier-Smith)
UNFPA (Yeshey Dorji),
UNICEF (Rudolf Schwenk),
UNODC (Sonam Wangdi),
UN Women (Rinzi Pem),
WFP (Piet Vochten),
WHO (Dr. Rui Paulo De Jesus))
Our partnership with Bhutan is about to reach the 50 year milestone and over the next 5 years we expect to support the 12th Plan with over Nu 7 billion. During the course of today we’ll explain in some detail how this is being planned and Partly inspired by the SG’s opening video we will do a detailed dive on the UN’s work on Emergency Preparedness and Response, because of this country’s vulnerability this extra attention is deserved.
SDGs/times of change and challenge
I have been fortunate to directly see a number of the changes that have occurred in Bhutan over the last 15 years.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals guide the United Nation’s interventions across all the nations we support and will guide our collaboration with you here in Bhutan. The United Nations biggest collaboration and contribution lies ahead. We will work together the Royal Government of Bhutan to help Bhutan successfully implement and achieve the 17 SDG’s by 2030.
Over the course of today, we will explain in detail where we bring a practical value-add to the development of this country.
When we anticipate the future (or another way to say this is ‘to get ahead of it’), we know we need to do better development; better results, better value for money and targeted to the most vulnerable.
I’d like to share with you 2 key documents, (1. Scenarios to 2030 for the UNDP in Asia and the Pacific – mega trends analysis 2. Analysis of mega trends in South Asia and their implications for children and UNICEF) which speak to the trends that will buffet this country over the coming 15 years: most especially:
These are important analysis and I look forward to an on-going dialogue on their key messages and insights.
The journey of the Global Goals began in 2000.
When world leaders came together at the United Nations to adopt the Millennium Declaration. Defining a common vision for the world, this declaration formed the eight Millennium Development Goals which proceeded to define development co-operation. Great progress was made here in Bhutan during this period: just to cite one example, The mortality rate of children under five years of age decreased by half between 1990 and 2012.
Sustainable Development Goals was signed by 193 countries in September 2015.
This new agenda built on important principles:
BHUTAN AND SDGs
During the 11th Five Year Plan, of the 169 targets, 134 have already found a home in Bhutan’s policy framework. This illustrates the practical alignment between Gross National Happiness and the SDGs.
The United Nations has been working closely with the Gross National Happiness Commission to help build the Sustainable Development Goals into the 12th Five Year Plan, the drafting of which, is in its final stages to be approved by the next Government. The sixteen National Key Result Areas of the current draft are closely related to the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, with commendable overlap in areas such as gender and good governance.
Bhutan is participating in the Voluntary National Review of its Sustainable Development Goals at the 2018 High Level Political Forum in New York in July this year. We are grateful to have assisted in this work and be part of showcasing the results oriented development work that occurs here in Bhutan.
The SDGs provide shared global vision towards sustainable development for all and they under-pin the work of the UN here in Bhutan.
THE ROLE OF PARLIAMENTARIANS IN SDGS
As the highest legislative body, the National Council is seen to ensure pro-poor, gender sensitive, human rights-based environment for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals. The Parliament has the power to make legislations and approve international agreement, I hope the Honorable members will lend their support to help the United Nations in implementing all of the SDG goals but particularly those which relate to legislation regarding Goal 5 on Gender Equality, Goal 10 on Reduced Inequalities and Goal 16 on Good Governance.
The Parliamentary oversight mechanisms such as public hearings, question time at the Parliament sessions and the work done by Parliamentary Committees can be very effective in focusing on progress and the obstacles faced during the progress. Parliamentary Committees can call on government officials to provide data on the impact of government policies and programmes.
People are at the beating heart of democracy: The Members of Parliament can both generate political will and leverage space for a wide range of stakeholders, including women and youth, vulnerable and marginalized groups to be engaged in the decisions that affect their lives. Parliamentary partnerships with civil society organizations, academic institutions and the private sector can also be useful in helping parliamentarians to identify key challenges and in accessing expertise to address them.
If you are driving a car and you don’t have a good dashboard of information regarding the car, then who is driving the car?
The challenging data and reporting requirements of the Sustainable Development Goals and NKRA-GNH agenda are significant and we the UN are particularly committed to support this country in this area of work. A key role of Parliament is monitoring and implementation of the agenda, and I urge the Honorable members to support the strengthening of relevant institutions that work in this area (such as NSB) and attend to the issue of measurement, data collection and relevant and timely policies.
Bhutan’s important role in Global Relations
We the UN are inspired by Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and the 5 extraordinary qualities that define the Bhutanese also greatly resonate at the UN:
Sincerity, Mindfulness, Astuteness, Resilience and Timeless.
Let me take this opportunity to invite each and every one of you to UN House Thimphu and mention that on the 2nd Thursday of each month we specifically host what is called Bhutan Dialogues, where we openly discuss the opportunities and challenges around development with a special focus on Bhutan.
I have covered a lot of ground in a short time, if you have any questions, lets chat over the breaks.
I trust our interactions today will help you understand the United Nations’ role and find wise ways to be at your disposal to support the people of Bhutan on the journey that lies ahead. Let us work together for a better life of every Bhutanese. Let us work together to serve the Tsa-Wa_Sum.
Tashi Delek and Kardrinchey La
The Resident Coordinator of UN in Bhutan, Gerald Daly, visited the Gaeddu College of Business Studies , Samtse College of Education and College of Science and Technology. Attached is the power point presentation on “UN Leadership & Interning in UN Bhutan”
“There cannot be enduring peace, prosperity, equality and brotherhood in this world if our aims are so separate and divergent, if we do not accept that in the end we are people, all alike, sharing the Earth among ourselves and also with other sentient beings, all of whom have an equal role and stake in the state of this planet and its players.”- His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
Your Excellency, Lyonchhen Dasho Tshering Tobgay, Honourable Prime Minister of Bhutan, Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk, Honourbale Minister for Health, Lyonpo Lekey Dorji, Honourable Minister Economic Affairs, Dashos, Representatives of the business community and beneficiary representatives of communities from Dagala, Lingshi and Langthel Communities and gewogs, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bhutan has been fortunate to have visionary leaders who have tirelessly advocated and demonstrated global leadership on the importance of environment conservation. The outstanding diversity of flora and fauna in Bhutan demonstrates the timeless value attached to the environment. By enshrining in the Constitution of Bhutan a forest cover of 60% for all times to come every Bhutanese is a trustee of the Kingdom.
Globally, over-harvesting species for food and medicine is a major driver in biodiversity collapse and extinctions. It is estimated that about 15,000 medicinal plants are threatened by extinction. On March 20th this year, World mourned the death of the last surviving male northern white rhino in Kenya.
In contrast, Bhutan has been a leader with its rich biodiversity, but as we know, it is threatened by a number of factors such as: overharvesting of natural resources; transformation from a subsistence economy to a consumer-based economy; competitive land uses for urbanization and infrastructure development; poaching along the porous borders; human-wildlife conflicts as a result of crop and livestock depredation by wildlife; and climate change exacerbating the risks of forest fire, pests and diseases.
69% of the population live in the rural areas subsisting on an integrated farm-based livelihood system that combines crop agriculture, livestock rearing, and use of a wide range of forest products. The strong culture of ethno-botanical uses, even to this day, remain significant, and rural communities have vast stores of traditional knowledge on the use of more than 200 species of medicinal plants that exist in the country.
It is against this backdrop that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals were adopted in September 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly, setting ambitious objectives to end poverty and hunger, protect the planet, and ensure health, education, and prosperity for all.
To counter the various threats to biodiversity, Bhutan has in place various strategies supported both by policy and legal instruments. The access to genetic resources and benefit sharing mechanism supported through this project (which is often called ABS) is just one example of innovative approachss to compliment the ongoing efforts of the Royal Government of Bhutan. The ABS mechanism puts “people” both at the center of conservation efforts by ensuring economic benefits.
UNDP is, therefore, pleased to partner with the National Biodiversity Centre (NBC), Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Menjong Sorig Pharmaceuticals Corporation Limited and Bio Bhutan to develop a national ABS framework and strengthen national capacity in bio-prospecting through the financial support of the Nagoya Protocol Implementation Fund.
Brief overview of the Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing (ABS) project
As many of you are aware the Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing (ABS) project started its implementation in 2014, focusing on key areas of support:
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
At this juncture, I would like to congratulate the NBC, MSPCL and Bio Bhutan for developing nine nature based products: such as anti-wrinkle cream, balm, liniment, massage oil, perfume, soaps, and hand sanitizer to support sustainable livelihoods of the communities of Zedokha, Namthar, Lingshi and Dagala. The launch of the products today is an important addition to the Brand Bhutan initiative and most importantly, it sets the carbon neutral development objective very much into motion. This work is also an critical value add to the important tourism sector we have here in Bhutan. It’s great to see members of the Private sector here today and engaging with their support.
In conclusion, the ABS project is very special to UNDP as it is a first of its kind in supporting the Government, private sector and local communities to develop nature based products through the sustainable use of the country’s rich biological resources.
For UNDP, this means growth and development are inclusive and sustainable. It also means incorporating productive capacities that create employment and livelihoods for the poor and vulnerable people of Bhutan.
We are privileged to partner with the Government and people of Bhutan in achieving this success.
Gross National Happiness embodies a strong commitment to realizing the equal rights of all, including those less privileged. Bhutan’s concept of GNH is a leading example of the progress that we have made towards the goal of ‘leaving no one behind’.
Projects like this enables people to empower themselves with innovative ideas for income generation opportunities through sustainable harvesting, domestication and commercialization of wild plants and biological resources. The project has also renewed the appreciation of people to the natural environment, reinforcing the benefit of biodiversity conservation.
UNDP will continue to partner with the Royal Government of Bhutan through its ongoing and pipeline projects for sustainable management, restoration and equitable benefits sharing of biodiversity and ecosystems to support local, national and global food security to help the achievement of SDGs goals. We look forward to doing so in close collaboration with all our partners as we know that such partnership is at the heart of sustainable development.
Kadinchey and Tashi Delek!
Statement by Mr. Gerald Daly, UN Resident Co-ordinator/Resident Representative, UNDP
April 5, 2018
“It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a child with autism to raise the consciousness of the village.” How true are the words of the famous ‘child whisperer’ Coach Elaine Hall.
Parents and families of special children, Chairperson of ABS Board of Trustees Dasho Kunzang Wangdi, distinguished guests, ABS Partners, CSO Colleagues, volunteers, ladies and gentlemen.
SG’s Message Secretary-General António Guterres
Empowering women and girls with Autism
UN’s global observance on World Autism Awareness Day
UN Support to Bhutan
Kadinchey and Tashi Delek
Statement by Mr. Gerald Daly, UN Resident Co-ordinator
April 2, 2018
5 key messages
Opening Statement by Gerald Daly
Resident Coordinator of the United Nations
United Nations Bhutan Retreat (22-23 March 2018)
Welcome to your UN House and to the 6th session of Bhutan Dialogues.
As you would have known by now, Bhutan Dialogues is an open space for dynamic conversations on issues of national interest and with the objective to listen, share and refine our ideas in pursuit of social progress. Our Theme for today is Bhutan Climate Action.
In line with the topic, let me briefly share some points for climate action.
During the course of the conversation today, we will discuss these issues more in-depth and share our views.
Our host for today is Dr. Karma Phuntsho from Loden Foundation.
Our guest speaker is Hendrick Visser from the Netherlands.
If I may suggest everyone present here today to keep their keeps questions short and to the point. However, I assure you that the longer questions will not go home unanswered. If you have longer questions to ask, please feel free to catch hold of our speakers over a cup of tea after the session.
After tea, I would like to invite people to come back in here to raise the game. We can answer your questions, have a discussion or simply just talk to eachother.
Last but not the least if you all could kindly suggest me the names of the speakers you would like to hear for the next Bhutan Dialogues session.
May I please request each one of you to please turn off your phone or put it on silent mode. Let us take a quarter of a minute to do it right away.
Lastly without further ado, let us now commence with our program.
Kadinchey and Tashi Delek.
Opening statement by Gerald Daly, UN Resident Coordinator
Bhutan Dialogues (6th Session)
Venue: UN House, Kawajangsa, Thimphu
Date: March 8, 2018
“Our work should equip the next generation of women to outdo us in every field. This is the legacy we will leave behind,” Rupi Kaur.
Your Royal Highness, Gyalsem Sonam Dechan Wangchuck. Honorable Minister for Works and Human Settlement, Lyonpo Dorji Choden, Honorable Home Minister, Lyonpo Dawa Gyaltshen, the Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly, Tshogpon Jigme Zangpo, Dashos, Members of the Parliament. Distinguished guests. UN colleagues. Ladies and Gentlemen.
Today is the time to reflect on the progress that we have made and celebrate ordinary women who have made extraordinary differences in their lives and to the lives of other women.
We celebrate International Women’s Day.
Today, we celebrate activists from both rural and urban communities who have transformed the lives of women around the world.
Kadinchey and Tashi Delek.
Statement by Gerald Daly, UN Resident Coordinator
March 8, 2018
Royal Banquet Hall
Honorable Co-chair – Dasho Thinley, Honourable Secretaries, Colleagues.
Objective of the CPB
At the outset, it is useful to remind ourselves that the objective of the Country Programme Board, is to:
Furthermore, we will provide an update on the UNSDPF (United Nations Sustainable Development Partners Framework) for the UN and the 12th Five Year Plan for the RGoB,; we will briefly discuss ‘Lessons Learned’ from the One Programme and ‘Way Forward’ for the next UNSDPF and 12th FYP in sessions three and four. In that discussion I would urge us all to search for additional ways to reduce transaction costs of the RGoB working with the UN.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
We made great progress in 2017. This will be presented throughout the morning session. In addition, we have circulated a summary handout for your information. However, let me emphasize following achievements;
Significant Outcome Accomplishments:
I don’t wish to duplicate what will be said in these forthcoming session but there are 3 products-results we achieved in 2017 that I was to raise to your attention:
These are just some of the analytical and critical results achieved by the UN in 2017 which ensure key policies (often of a social nature) and support to the RGOB are systematically advanced while ensuring we the UN keep a strong focus on Leaving No One Behind – which is the backbone of the work we do here in Bhutan.
Joint Programme Accomplishments
This year was also successful in terms of our Joint works, especially following three joint programmes;
This work is a great springboard for our next 5 years and Outcome #1 of the UNSDPF.
In addition to those joint programmes, the UN in Bhutan has been jointly working on capacity enhancement of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) through Bhutan Dialogues and capacity enhancement workshop for CSOs especially on their resource mobilization capacity.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the leads and members of these Joint Programmes.
Way Forward and Closing
Going forward, I am happy to share two important issues with the CPB.
The UN is more than the sum of these outcomes and results that have been achieved in 2017; not least because the NRAs and Regional Commission (ESCAP) are not fully captured. We the UN also bring the technical and substantive depth of our Regional Offices and of the various UN HQs around the world to support our work here in Bhutan.
As UN Representatives and staff we are both grateful and committed to the relationship with the RGoB and we want to always strive to raise our game: “Never be shy about giving us frank feedback.”
Thank you and Tashi Delek.
Address by Gerald Daly, UN Resident Coordinator
Date: February 9, 2018
Venue: National Assembly Conference Hall, Thimphu, Bhutan
Your Excellency, Lyonpo Damcho Dorji, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honorable Mr. Haoliang Xu, UN ASG, UNDP Regional Director, Asia and the Pacific and Regional UNDG Chair, ASG Nikhil Seth of UNITAR, Excellencies, Dashos, members of civil society, distinguished participants, colleagues from UN agencies and entities (based both internally and externally), ladies and gentlemen.
As the UN Resident Coordinator of the UN in Bhutan I am humbled to address the RGOB and its development partners. I start by noting that the ‘One UN voice’ is a pillar of Delivering As One and thus this statement is made on behalf of the UN entities that support Bhutan’s development and is a reflection of our continuous efforts to partner with Bhutan within a relevant, coherent and effective framework. These UN agencies and entities are:
• Resident Agencies: FAO, UNFPA, UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, WFP + UNODC, UN Women
• Non-Resident Agencies: IFAD, UNAIDS, UNCDF, UNCTAD, UNDESA, UNEP, UNESCO, UNHABITAT, UNIDO, UNOCHA, UNOPS, UNV
• And present also here today: ITU, UNIC, UNITAR, WIPO
As I will speak on behalf of these UN entities, I request your flexibility on my time duration.
Over the last decades, Bhutan has experienced strong economic performance, which is supported by rapid growth in industry and services and includes the construction of three major hydropower projects. Discussions have started on Bhutan’s graduation from the groups of LDC’s via the Triennial Review conducted by the Committee for Development policy at the UN. We the UN will support the RGoB in this transition.
In the social sphere too, Bhutan has made impressive progress. The net enrollment ratio for basic education stands at 96.2 per cent. Bhutan is amongst the top 15 countries that have seen greatest improvements in the ICT Development Index where it is 117 out of 175 countries.
Bhutan will celebrate the 10th year anniversary of Democracy next year. It has made great progress in governance through greater transparency and accountability. Bhutan is the 27th least corrupt country in the world. Bhutan ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2016, reiterating its commitment to counter corruption. While the world became less peaceful, Bhutan was ranked the 13th most peaceful country in the world. With such significant progress on the economic, social and political fronts, Bhutan focuses on sustaining achievements, and on ensuring that development gains are equitable and benefit all Bhutanese people. The UN in Bhutan notes with humility that we have had the opportunity to work together with and serve the Royal Government of Bhutan for the last four decades in addressing national issues, and being able to witness and support Bhutan’s unique development trajectory.
Despite the significant progress, challenges persist. The multidimensional poverty index reflects that 12.7 per cent of Bhutanese still fall below the threshold in terms of health, education and living standards. Bhutan remains highly vulnerable to external shocks. Economic diversification commensurate with growing demands is yet to take place and is currently predominantly driven by the hydropower sector, which has limited potential for the creation of productive jobs to absorb a growing and an increasingly educated labour force. Unemployment rates among youth remain comparatively high, yesterday, honorable Lyonchheon quoted a figure of 13.2 %.
Bhutan is also confronted with emerging social challenges such as: disabilities; substance abuse; domestic violence and gender-based violence; child protection issues; and youth-related issues. While a notable improvement in women’s participation in local elections of 11 per cent was significant, more attention is needed in enhancing women’s political participation. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the members of civil society who assisted the RGoB in achieving this milestone. Despite a remarkable reduction, neonatal mortality – deaths occurring in the first 28 days of birth – is still high, accounting for 70 per cent of infant and more than half of under-five deaths.
Attention needs to be also paid to address non-communicable diseases that now account for over three quarters of all deaths in Bhutan and the probability of premature deaths, before the age of 70, from one of the four main Non-Communicable Diseases. Climate change impacts such as flood occurrences and potentially severe fluctuations in seasonal weather patterns, can have significant consequences for both lives and livelihoods in Bhutan and affect long-term sustainability of its hydropower and agricultural based economy. UN’s Support to RGoB and 12th FIVE YEAR PLAN linkage with SDGs: The United Nations agencies that work in Bhutan is already responding to these challenges in close collaboration with the RGOB and with other national and international partners.
We will continue supporting the RGoB in promoting inclusive economic growth, promoting climate and disaster resilience, improving access to and availability of weather and climate services, mobilizing the potential of youth and women, and promoting increased access to and usage of essential social services. The UN will continue creating enabling conditions for a food- and nutrition-secure economy, promotion of rule of law and access to justice and protecting and empowering vulnerable groups—including institutionalizing social protection schemes especially for women and children, and improving data availability and usage for decision making purposes in concert with the RGoB.
We are committed to taking the lessons of Development that have been achieved here in Bhutan (for example in the area of Gross National Happiness, such as respect for the environment, accountability to the people and transparency, etc) to the wider international community. We will be inspired by the resolution adopted by the General Assembly 65/309 in 2011 and titled “Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development” and I quote: “Conscious that unsustainable patterns of production and consumption can impede sustainable development, and recognizing the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and well-being of all peoples”
Some say Bhutan is a small country, but in a world of challenge and upheaval I believe its leadership is a beacon to the World with respect to holistic development that is both pro people and pro planet. We look forward to working very closely with the RGOB of Bhutan in making the SDGs a reality for all Bhutanese. The similarities between Bhutan’s development philosophy of Gross National Happiness and the SDGs both of which pursue a sustainable socio-economic development path are very significant and were comprehensively detailed yesterday by Aum Doma.
A rapid integrated assessment conducted by the UN in October 2015, indicated high levels of integration of the SDG targets already into the 11th Five Year Plan. Out of 143 SDG targets, 134 SDG
targets were included in the 11th Five Year Plan. Similarly, a preliminary review of the 12th Five Year Plan that is currently under formulation, shows that the 16 National Key Result Areas are closely related with the SDGs.
Changing financial environment (Addis Ababa Action Agenda; changing partner presence; new financing windows) We stand committed to support Bhutan in its development journey, and we are acutely aware of the changing global ODA patterns and its implications on UN’s operations globally and on countries directly, including Bhutan. For this, we look forward to working very closely with the RGOB in the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The UN will support Bhutan in exploring and accessing alternate sources of financing and in so doing, we will support the building of an evidence based investment case to attract investors to partake in the nation’s unique conservation journey, with special emphasis on the achievement of, SDG 1 on poverty eradication, SDG 13 on Climate Action, SDG 15 on Life on Land, and their essential linkages to the other SDGs.
Constant and Changing roles of UN Agencies As always, the Convening power of the UN – most especially in an international context – is and will remain our key comparative advantage. Given the global political and environmental challenges we face, we the UN, as always, place our good offices at the service of the RGoB. Take this opportunity to thank the RGoB and the Royal Bhutan Army for the and 48 personnel who are currently serving and 17 who have already
served with UN Peacekeeping.
The UN system in Bhutan will remain a relevant, critical, and committed partner of the RGoB and its citizens, the UN will increasingly engage in providing innovative solutions to the government. That increasingly will be upstream policy work. This will be pursued through: the use of global and regional expertise; enhancing local capacity to collect, generate, analyze and translate relevant and reliable strategic data and information; and using limited resources more efficiently by leveraging and prioritizing investments for sustained development. With respect to innovation, we will bring best case practices from the international arena and help with their contextualization to the needs of Bhutan.
Khada Lap Thuengo which roughly translates as What you say and what you do must be in harmony. You will note that I have not specifically mentioned the work of any individual UN agency/entity in this statement. The reason is that like the RGoB, we in the UN are currently developing the UN strategic framework known as UNDAF-One Programme (2019-23) with our counterparts within the RGoB, civil society and the private sector. We will adopt an inclusive planning process – a whole of society approach – guided by the RGOB model. We will be guided by the 12th plan (with special consideration for the 3 ‘C’s of the RGoB which are coordination, collaboration and consolidation).
The UNDAF-One programme is where the UN agencies and entities will come together with specific and detailed contributions which are focused on delivering results. This accountability framework will help ensure that what we say and what we do is in harmony. We look forward to engaging with all our partners, CSOs, and private sector that are gathered here, and including many other stakeholders.
We will strive with both our hearts and minds to follow-through on implementing the specific commitments we make in the UNDAF-One Programme. In conclusion, let me reaffirm the commitment of the UN system to contribute and support the implementation of the 11th Five Year Plan and formulation process of the 12th Five Year Plan and its implementation through the “Delivering as One” approach.
Thank You and Tashi Delek!
Joint UN Statement by Gerald Daly, UN Resident Coordinator
13th Round Table Meeting, Thimphu,
March 15, 2017