SDGs Student Photo Contest 2017 – Call for Applications!! - May 18, 2017

Japan UNIC 2

UNIC Tokyo will be organizing the Student Photo Contest along with Sophia University and also special cooperation from Getty Images Japan. For more information, Download Contest Details

2017 World Press Freedom Day statement by UN Secretary General - May 3, 2017

2017 Press Freedom Day

3 May 2017: Journalists go to the most dangerous places to give voice to the voiceless.

Media workers suffer character assassination, sexual assault, detention, injuries and even death.

We need leaders to defend a free media. This is crucial to counter prevailing misinformation.

And we need everyone to stand for our right to truth.

On World Press Freedom Day, I call for an end to all crackdowns against journalists – because a free press advances peace and justice for all.

When we protect journalists, their words and pictures can change our world.

13th Round Table Meeting starts - March 15, 2017

Guideline Launch

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, UN Assistant Secretary General Haoliang Xu, and the Foreign Affairs minister Damcho Dorji launched the 12th Five Year Plan guideline during the opening of the Round Table Meeting.


United Nations Assistant Secretary General, Haoliang Xu: We gather to celebrate Bhutan’s development successes, consider its challenges, and reflect on our respective roles in supporting the sustainable development of Bhutan. I am struck by his humility and his dedication to people centered-development. I recall one quotation of His Majesty’s that I came across in preparation for today. He said “the world must progress together, or fail together.”


Gross National Happiness Secretary Thinley Namgyal: So many narratives about Bhutan commence with the reflection that it is small and landlocked. While both are true, so too is the fact that Bhutan has the potential to be a giant of sustainable development, and the cutting-edge development interventions I saw this week prove that. This RTM we will have a more intimate understanding of Bhutan’s development challenges as well as the opportunities the 12th Plan may have to offer.

RTM Side Event

Bhutan is a GNH country and the CBS conducted GNH surveys in 2010 and 2015. Hence we now have a wealth of data from the surveys that we can use for development planning. During the survey, 8,000 people were interviewed with each interview lasting for one and a half hour.

Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030 - March 6, 2017

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Official Portrait
Message by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on
the 2017 International Women’s Day

Across the world, too many women and girls spend too many hours on household responsibilities—typically more than double the time spent by men and boys. They look after younger siblings, older family members, deal with illness in the family and manage the house. In many cases this unequal division of labour is at the expense of women’s and girls’ learning, of paid work, sports, or engagement in civic or community leadership. This shapes the norms of relative disadvantage and advantage, of where women and men are positioned in the economy, of what they are skilled to do and where they will work.

This is the unchanging world of unrewarded work, a globally familiar scene of withered futures, where girls and their mothers sustain the family with free labour, with lives whose trajectories are very different from the men of the household.

We want to construct a different world of work for women. As they grow up, girls must be exposed to a broad range of careers, and encouraged to make choices that lead beyond the traditional service and care options to jobs in industry, art, public service, modern agriculture and science.

We have to start change at home and in the earliest days of school, so that there are no places in a child’s environment where they learn that girls must be less, have less, and dream smaller than boys.

This will take adjustments in parenting, curricula, educational settings, and channels for everyday stereotypes like TV, advertising and entertainment; it will take determined steps to protect young girls from harmful cultural practices like early marriage, and from all forms of violence.

Women and girls must be ready to be part of the digital revolution. Currently only 18 per cent of undergraduate computer science degrees are held by women. We must see a significant shift in girls all over the world taking STEM subjects, if women are to compete successfully for high-paying ‘new collar’ jobs. Currently just 25 per cent of the digital industries’ workforce are women.

Achieving equality in the workplace will require an expansion of decent work and employment opportunities, involving governments’ targeted efforts to promote women’s participation in economic life, the support of important collectives like trade unions, and the voices of women themselves in framing solutions to overcome current barriers to women’s participation, as examined by the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. The stakes are high: advancing women’s equality could boost global GDP by USD 12 trillion by 2025.

It also requires a determined focus on removing the discrimination women face on multiple and intersecting fronts over and above their gender: sexual orientation, disability, older age, and race. Wage inequality follows these: the average gender wage gap is 23 per cent but this rises to 40 per cent for African American women in the United States. In the European Union, elderly women are 37 per cent more likely to live in poverty than elderly men.

In roles where women are already over-represented but poorly paid, and with little or no social protection, we must make those industries work better for women. For example, a robust care economy that responds to the needs of women and gainfully employs them; equal terms and conditions for women’s paid work and unpaid work; and support for women entrepreneurs, including their access to finance and markets. Women in the informal sector also need their contributions to be acknowledged and protected. This calls for enabling macroeconomic policies that contribute to inclusive growth and significantly accelerate progress for the 770 million people living in extreme poverty.

Addressing the injustices will take resolve and flexibility from both public and private sector employers. Incentives will be needed to recruit and retain female workers; like expanded maternity benefits for women that also support their re-entry into work, adoption of the Women’s Empowerment Principles, and direct representation at decision-making levels. Accompanying this, important changes in the provision of benefits for new fathers are needed, along with the cultural shifts that make uptake of paternity and parental leave a viable choice, and thus a real shared benefit for the family.

In this complexity there are simple, big changes that must be made: for men to parent, for women to participate and for girls to be free to grow up equal to boys. Adjustments must happen on all sides if we are to increase the number of people able to engage in decent work, to keep this pool inclusive, and to realize the benefits that will come to all from the equal world envisaged in our Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

GNHC talks innovation and quality delivery for future UN support - March 3, 2017

From right: UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative Gerald Daly, Dasho Thinley Namgyal, GNHC Secretary with other GNHC and UN staff members.

From right: UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative Gerald Daly, Dasho Thinley Namgyal, GNHC Secretary with other GNHC and UN staff members.

March 3, 2017: United Nations support for the 12th Five Year Plan and innovation for well targeted interventions were the highlights presented by the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) Secretary, Dasho Thinley Namgyel as the new Resident Coordinator Gerald Daly presented his credentials.

He acknowledged that the UN has already started providing support for the 12th plan formulation and added that most of the time and resources were invested for the consultation process, unlike before.

The UN Bhutan Resident Coordinator (R.C)/ UNDP Bhutan Resident Representative Gerald Daly expressed his appreciation to the government for having made vulnerability and inclusiveness one of the flagship target areas for the 12th plan. The UN, he said, is committed to support the government in the best possible ways to achieve the set targets.

Meanwhile, the GNHC Secretary underscored a need for innovation to achieve the prioritized targets with high quality standards. “We have to work towards improving the quality of what we already have rather than just expanding further”, he said.

The UN Resident Coordinator reiterated, “Innovation to be an area where UN could really add value”, and that targets could be best achieved by being effective and precise while choosing the kind innovation that fits the needs of the Bhutanese people.

UN Resident Coordinator meets Ministers of Works and Human Settlement, Home Affairs and Finance - March 2, 2017

The new UN Bhutan Resident Coordinator presented his credentials to the Ministers of Works and Human Settlement, Home Affairs and Finance and discussed the current and future areas of UN support.

Left: UN Resident Coordinator and Finance Minister. Right: Government meeting on the 12th Plan Formulation.

Left: UN Resident Coordinator and Finance Minister. Right: Government meeting on the 12th Plan Formulation.

Sustainable Development Planning: Lyonpo Namgay Dorji, “We are close to the end of the 11th Five Year Plan and the 12th plan formulation and there is nothing like having someone who has been here in Bhutan before and understands the ground realities.” UN Resident Coordinator Gerald Daly, “We want to take the 12th plan to heart for our own plan as well because, just as the government is formulating the 12th plan, UN Bhutan is also planning a new United Nations Development Assistance Framework.”

Left: UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative meeting the home minister. Right: a gewog leader testing the virtual zomdu facility supported by UNDP.

Left: UNRC and other UN representatives with presenting credentials for the home minister. Right: a gewog leader testing the virtual zomdu facility supported by UNDP.

Virtual Zomdu: Lyonpo Dawa Gyaltshen, “I still have to walk for five hours to reach my constituency but now I can meet my people at any time using the virtual zomdu facility set up through UNDP support.
UN Resident Coordinator, “We can help Bhutan in bringing innovations from around the world, but, it depends on the Royal Government of Bhutan as to which one is best suited for the country.”

Left: WFP emergency support to Nepal in the aftermath of the earthquake. Right: UNRC sharing how UN Bhutan could also provide similar support through planned emergency response.

Left: WFP emergency support to Nepal in the aftermath of the earthquake. Right: UNRC sharing how UN Bhutan could also provide similar support through planned emergency response.

Emergency Preparedness: Lyonpo Dawa Gyaltshen, “We have been doing a lot on emergency preparedness, especially by learning from neighbouring countries but we need to do more.”
UNRC, “The World Food Programme and the United Nations Children’s Fund have developed a concept note on emergency preparedness which we plan to share with the ministry soon.”

Left: UNRC Gerald Daly with Lyonpo Dorji Choden, MoWHS. Right: The first women gup of Bhutan. One of the main discussions during the meeting was on how best Bhutan can create a better environment for women leaders.

Left: UNRC Gerald Daly with Lyonpo Dorji Choden, MoWHS. Right: The first women gup of Bhutan. One of the main discussions during the meeting was on how best Bhutan can create a better environment for women leaders.

Gender Equality: Lyonpo Dorji Choden, “There have been instances where some women could not participate in the Local Government elections because their families did not support them. We need to look into gender issues more delicately and create a supportive environment for women.”
UN Resident Coordinator, Gerald Daly, “If we can support women leadership and help balance it more, it could act as a catalyst.”

New UN Bhutan Resident Coordinator presents credentials to Foreign Minister - March 2, 2017

Gerald Daly, the new UN Resident Coordinator with Foreign Minister, Lyonpo Damcho Dorji.

Gerald Daly, the new UN Resident Coordinator with Foreign Minister, Lyonpo Damcho Dorji.

02 March, 2017: Earlier this morning, UN Bhutan’s new Resident Coordinator, Mr. Gerald Daly, presented his credentials to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lyonpo Damcho Dorji. During a traditional Bhutanese ceremony that organized by the ministry as part of the meeting, Mr. Daly said that he was, “Heartened to know that the Royal Government of Bhutan will be leading the Sustainable Development Goals review process.
He assured that, “We, as the UN, will see things as they are to take forward the wisdom of His Majesty the King.” He added that the work put in by the government has also been a model to be inspired by and expressed his appreciation to the government for leading the country at its best.
Foreign Minister Lyonpo Damcho Dorji acknowledged that over the years, “UN agencies have put in their heart and soul for the people of Bhutan and highlighted the UN support provided for the 11th Five Year Plan implementation especially for social services, good governance, gender equality and sustainable development.

UN SG calls for an inclusive world embracing all humanity’s diversity - December 6, 2016


Following is UN Secretary-General’s Ban Ki-moon’s message on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed on 3 December:

Ten years ago this month, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. One of the most widely ratified international human rights instruments, with 169 Parties, the Convention has spurred significant progress in commitment and action for equality, inclusion and empowerment around the world, with disability being increasingly incorporated into the global human rights and development agendas.

This year, United Nations Member States have embarked on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our blueprint for peace, prosperity, dignity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet. With its 17 interdependent Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda is based on a pledge to leave no one behind. Achieving this requires the full inclusion and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society and development.

Much remains to be accomplished before persons with disabilities can realize their full potential as equal and valued members of society. We must eliminate the stereotypes and discrimination that perpetuate their exclusion and build an accessible, enabling and inclusive environment for all. For the 2030 Agenda to succeed, we must include persons with disabilities in implementation and monitoring and use the Convention as a guide.

On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I urge national and local Governments, businesses and all actors in society to intensify efforts to end discrimination and remove the environmental and attitudinal obstacles that prevent persons with disabilities from enjoying their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Let us work together for the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in an inclusive and sustainable world that embraces humanity in all its diversity.

Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations - December 1, 2016

First Phase Digital

Today, we commemorate World AIDS Day—we stand in solidarity with the 78 million people who have become infected with HIV and remember the 35 million who have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the first cases of HIV were reported.
The world has committed to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. We are seeing that countries are getting on the Fast-Track—more than 18 million people are on life-saving HIV treatment and country after country is on track to virtually eliminate HIV transmission from mother to child.
We are winning against the AIDS epidemic, but we are not seeing progress everywhere. The number of new HIV infections is not declining among adults, with young women particularly at risk of becoming infected with HIV.
We know that for girls in sub-Saharan Africa, the transition to adulthood is a particularly dangerous time. Young women are facing a triple threat: a high risk of HIV infection, low rates of HIV testing and poor adherence to HIV treatment.
Co-infections of people living with HIV, such as tuberculosis (TB), cervical cancer and hepatitis C, are at risk of putting the 2020 target of fewer than 500 000 AIDS-related deaths out of reach. TB caused about a third of AIDS-related deaths in 2015, while women living with HIV are at four to five times greater risk of developing cervical cancer. Taking AIDS out of isolation remains an imperative if the world is to reach the 2020 target.
With access to treatment, people living with HIV are living longer. Investing in treatment is paying off, but people older than 50 who are living with HIV, including people who are on treatment, are at increased risk of developing age-associated non-communicable diseases, affecting HIV disease progression.
AIDS is not over, but it can be if we tailor the response to individual needs at particular times in life. Whatever our individual situation may be, we all need access to the tools to protect us from HIV and to access anti-retroviral medicines should we need them. A life-cycle approach to HIV that finds solutions for everyone at every stage of life can address the complexities of HIV. Risks and challenges change as people go through life, highlighting the need to adapt HIV prevention and treatment strategies from birth to old age.
The success we have achieved so far gives us hope for the future, but as we look ahead we must remember not to be complacent. We cannot stop now. This is the time to move forward together to ensure that all children start their lives free from HIV, that young people and adults grow up and stay free from HIV and that treatment becomes more accessible so that everyone stays AIDS-free.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at

Australia joins UN to restore water treatment plant in Gelephu - November 25, 2016


November 25, 2016: Australia today, committed a total of AUD 100,000 to the United Nations, to support the Royal Government’s reconstruction efforts of the Gelephu Thromde water treatment plant, which was severely damaged by the devastating flooding in July. AUD 100, 000 (USD 73,947) will be channeled through the United Nations Development Programme to support the ongoing reconstruction efforts led by the Thromde with support from the Department for Disaster Management and Department for Engineering Services. The funding commitment by the Government of Australia was formalized through the signing of a Third-party Cost-sharing Agreement between the Australian Ambassador to Bhutan, Her Excellency, Harinder Sidhu and the UNDP Resident Representative a.i, Ms. Niamh Collier-Smith.
Australia’s commitment adds to an ongoing combined investment of USD 250,000 by UNICEF and UNDP, in a bid to help the Government move closer to the full cost of building back better, the Gelephu – Mao Chhu Infiltration Gallery and Water Treatment Plant, which is estimated to cost USD 550,000.
A Post Disaster Needs Assessment carried out by the UN in October 2016 noted that disruption in the supply of treated water posed health risks and disruption in medical services of the Central Region Referral Hospital, Disruption in education and loss of learning for over 3,000 students and loss in Business income. The assessment also stressed the need to build back better so that the facility will be able to withstand floods in the future, even if they would be more severe than the July 2016 floods. The Random Rubble Masonry protection wall of the plant will be upgraded with a Reinforced Cement Concrete wall and the base of the earlier two tiers spur wall will be widened with five tiers.
Speaking on behalf of the UN in Bhutan, Mr. Piet Vochten, Resident Coordinator a.i. thanked the Government of Australia for the contribution adding that over the years, the Australian government has not only helped Bhutan but many countries all over the world.
During the agreement signing, Her Excellency, Ms. Harinder Sidhu, the Australian Ambassador to Bhutan said, “Although it is a modest amount, it is a contribution from the heart and part of our long-standing relationship with Bhutan.”
Mr. Chhador Wangdi, Director, Department of Disaster Management, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs also thanked the Government of Australia and said, “The restoration work of the Gelephu water treatment plant has been a priority for the government, as it could have cut off our people from their daily survival needs.” He informed the partners at the signing ceremony that the tender for constructing the retaining wall has been issued.
He further added he would like to thank the Government of Australia not only for this support but also a lot of other contributions in terms of capacity building and enabling that DDM officials to study disaster management.
Rehabilitating the Gelephu water treatment plant is part of the broader challenge Bhutan is today tackling in recovering from the above normal and extended monsoon of the past summer. Overall, in the July tragedy, four people lost their lives and the nation suffered damages estimated at a total of USD 14.9 million to property and infrastructure.