UN commits to ensure sustainable graduation

UN commits to ensure sustainable graduation
…would continue its partnership even after graduation
By Tshering Dorji (Kuensel Issue: July 30)
To ensure sustainable graduation from the category of least developed countries, Bhutan must focus on self-reliance.
However, the UN system in Bhutan will continue its assistance and renew its role even after graduation. The UN system will shift from aid to trade, as Bhutan’s economic index is still vulnerable.
This was the message the representatives of the UN systems in Bhutan conveyed during its press conference on July 26.
Economic vulnerability index is one of the three criteria for graduation. The country has achieved the other two criteria on human asset index and income per capita. A country is eligible to graduate if it achieves two of the three criteria on two triennial reviews.
The UN resident coordinator, Gerald Daly said the country must strengthen its academic institutions to prepare youth to be self-reliant future leaders. This, he said is strengthening self-reliance. He said that the media, civil society organisations and private sector must also be strengthened to achieve self-reliance.
The deputy resident representative, Jurgen Nagler said UNDP would undertake a trade diagnostic study as the country sets out to diversify its economy. “Sustainable graduation has the same spirit as the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
Gerald Daly added that the UN has equal interest in Gross National Happiness and NKRAs as it has in SDGs. While Bhutan is doing well on SDGs, he said it couldn’t be complacent. There are, he shared, examples of growing inequalities, as countries get richer.
When the SDGs are looked at from a child focus, Vandana Joshi from the UNICEF said that the results are not that impressive. For instance, poverty reduction has been substantial but reduction in child poverty has not been progressive. “We need to invest in young ones to bring same level of progress,” she said. “Within that impressive growth, we have to concentrate on where inequality stands and invest. It is not a difficult dream for us” she added.
The UNDP is also helping the government develop foresight methodology and apply it. The UNDP’s report on 10 years of democracy, Jugen Nagler said is to enforce a stronger partnership with the govern ment to ensure sustainable graduation by maximising the progress on SDGs.
The assistant representative of the FAO, Chador Tenzin said that for Bhutan to tighten its vulnerabilities on the economy, a lot has to do with the RNR sector. The sector, he said would bring wider benefit where most of the people are employed. “If we want to attract our youth into farming, it has to be technology driven,” he said adding that this is where the FAO would focus.
As for the WHO, its representative, Dr Rui Paulo de Jesus said that it would always try to make itself relevant. As Bhutan graduates, he said WHO’s role would transform. “We may shift our approach from service delivery to normative function.”
The UNFPA resident representative, Yeshey Dorji said the organisation still has its agenda to continue. In future, he said the UNFPA would focus on policy advocacy and upstream works.
Innovative financing
One direct impact of the graduation is on the official development assistance (ODA).
Gerald Daly said that Bhutan must look at finding innovative solutions. He said that one way is to look at internal revenue built up from providing benefit to the vulnerable group. For instance, taxes on alcohol, sugar filled drinks can raise revenue while the most vulnerable group can benefit from the impact.
Vertical climate fund is the biggest source of external financing. He said two UN agencies are already accessing Global Climate Fund (GCF) to invest in smart agriculture.
During the upcoming Climate Action Summit in September, he said the UN secretary General’s main priority is to increase the capital base of green fund.
The UN’s assistance to replace 300 taxis with electric vehicle, he said is another example. The international community is providing the finance. Taxi owners take loan with the help of financial institutions and they take loan only if they believe that they can repay. So this initiative will strengthen the private sector, reduce pollution and curb import of fossil fuels. “The UN would like to see more of such innovative projects,” Gerald Daly said.
“It is a combination of what we ourselves can do and what the international community can do,” he said in relation to the financing.
Jurgen also added that the recently launched crowd funding has the potential to tap into growing market of impact investment.
Vandana Joshi said UNICEF’s intent is to see how smartly resource could be used in programme such as investing in prevention of NCD to reduce the burden of treating it to get the best value of the money. “Saving money is also raising money,” she added.

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