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
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