RC’s statement for the Launch of HDR Report- 10 December 2019

 “Individual or even national success is a ship that cannot carry everyone together to the same place at the same time. Rich nations must stop to be mindful of the poorer ones left behind. Successful people must stop to remember those who didn’t make it. No nation today can stand alone in achievement. Time is slowly telling us that there can be no lasting individual success without success as a community and there cannot be lasting national progress and success if it does not fit into a future of global peace, harmony and equality. The world must progress together or fail together.”- His Majesty the King.

Opening

Last weekend I was speaking to a Bhutanese friend and I mentioned that I would be speaking today on issues connected with Inequality, Narrowing the gap, Egalitarianism, inclusion and Human Rights and his advice was that some of these words are very high and whatever I say needs to be very practical.

Another friend mentioned that she is growing tired of ‘Semdha Nosam Thingo and suggested that              Yang Dak Pai Dren Pa (or Right Mindfulness) is more appropriate.

Bearing this in mind, I decided to be guided by what is called the Gandhi Talisman’s which goes like:

Whenever you are in doubt about your work, apply following test. Recall the face of the poorest and weakest woman or man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you are considering is going to be of any use to them.

 

 

 

 

Today I have three key messages that I would like to convey on behalf of the 26 UN agencies that work in Bhutan.

  1. Leaving No One Behind depends on data: if u can’t count the vulnerable, they don’t count.
  2. Knowledge products produced by the Government and UN here in Bhutan provide great insights on vulnerability and the best actions to help vulnerable people
  3. Sem Dha No Sam Thingo is good but Yang Dak Pai Dren Pa (Right Mindfulness) may bring better results.

 

Leaving No One Behind depends on data: if u can’t count the vulnerable, they don’t count.

  • We are fortunate the government are open and aware about the challenges around data.
  • We are also fortunate The National Statistics Bureau has produced an important draft National Statistics strategy – when this is approved, the international community need to actively support the ministries and NSB in its implementation.
  • We know that Leaving no one behind requires the use of disaggregated data, to allow an in-depth look at trends across different population groups. This disaggregation includes breaking data down by gender and age at the Dzongkhag and Gewog levels. Data based on national averages often misses the opportunities to identify specific challenges that must be addressed if we are to fully implement the 2030 Agenda.
  • Finally, this disaggregation to Gewog level will grow ever more important as government financial disbursements happen at the Dzongkhag and Gewog levels.

 

Knowledge products produced by the Government and UN here in Bhutan provide great insights on vulnerability and the best actions to help vulnerable people

 

  • Over recent years, important studies on vulnerability have been conducted by GNHC, NCWC, NSB, various ministries including ministry of Education and Health, Parliament of Bhutan and UN agencies.
  • For example, we know from the Vulnerability Baseline Assessment that there are 14 recognized vulnerable groups which speak to the challenges of NKRA 3 on inequality and poverty. When it comes to the 14 vulnerable groups, perhaps people who beg, draying workers and orphans would benefit from more targeted support.
  • 10 years of democracy in Bhutan, invites us to compliment the formation of the women’s caucus but perhaps when it comes to listening to young people we might start a more deliberate process engagement with them which could eventually lead to a Youth Caucus or even a resuscitation of the Youth Parliament.
  • The recommendation regarding who votes in Thromde elections, deserves a re-look.
  • The KAP study and the just released national policy on persons with disability helps us to practically value people with disabilities and their contribution to the economy.
  • Finally on this 2nd message, inequality is dynamic and we need to engage with insight to the emerging inequalities that some would say are still on the horizon.
    • Some speak of an inequality between public and private persons.
    • Some also speak of the need to distribute the economic benefit of tourists to lesser known districts.
    • Re-locating some Government offices out of Thimphu appears to have merit.
  • By taking practical action in these and related areas we are fulfilling the constitution and especially article 9 which deals with Gross National Happiness.

 

Yang Dak Pai Dren Pa (Right Mindfulness) can help may bring better results

  • It’s clear from the Human Development Report 2019 there are rapid changes happening in the fundamentals of inequality around the World and Bhutan can astutely choose to read the ‘writing on the wall’ from these other countries and proactively take the right actions. Technology, Gender inequality and social media are just some of the areas where we can anticipate huge changes around the world.
  • For example, when it comes to social media, one of the big weaknesses is the rise of ‘hate speech’ and we know that one of the best medicines is a strong press and news media.
  • Another key element in this support to the vulnerable is to recognize the great work that is being done by the CSO’s here in Bhutan. CSOs (and I would have to add NCWC on this point) have a comparative advantage when it comes to anticipating and responding to the needs of the most vulnerable.
  • As modernization continues with its inevitable and often massive societal shifts I believe open discussion, a strong press and a strong CSO sector will give us the flexibility to respond to the vulnerabilities that emerge in Bhutan over the coming period of history.
  • Allow me to be more specific, I personally hope that the press and CSO community have a strong voice in the preparations of the 2040 Vision.
  • I know the inherent professionalism of the press and CSO community will be grounded in Yang Dak Pai Dren Pa.

 

Closing

Please allow me to end with a quote from the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.

“Let us be clear: we are far from where we need to be. We are off track. Deadly conflicts, the climate crisis, gender-based violence and persistent inequalities are undermining efforts to achieve the goals.”

“And we see the impact of inequality more and more, not only among countries but within each country, and we see the disquiet in so many societies because people feel frustrated that they are left behind.”

Thank You and Tashi Delek.

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