United Nations announces funds to fight COVID-19 and “Build Back Better”
Thimphu, 15 June 2020: On behalf of the United Nations (UN) in Bhutan, the Resident Coordinator, Gerald Daly, during his meeting with Foreign Minister Lyonpo (Dr) Tandi Dorji, committed USD 1.17 million to support the Royal Government of Bhutan in addressing issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A part of the commitment comes from the Secretary General’s UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, with the aim to support responses to COVID-19 and part of it is from the Joint Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund, which will fund activities to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs.
The UN Resident Coordinator said the funds will not only protect people from the spread of the virus but will also help to prevent harm to the most vulnerable over the longer-term and ensure that Bhutan can “Build Back Better”.
The programme financed by the Secretary General’s UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund supports education continuity and those whose livelihoods in the tourism and agriculture sectors are at risk. The Joint SDG Fund will support the Royal Government to create strategies to increase and make effective use of investments to manage the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, respond to climate change threats, and advance Bhutan’s ambitious sustainable development agenda.
The donor countries for the Secretary-General’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund are Switzerland, The Netherlands, Norway and Denmark who also contributed to the Joint SDG Fund.
“Lyonpo (Dr) Tandi Dorji thanked the UN in Bhutan for an additional commitment of US$ 1.17 million to the Royal Government to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected the world over. It is during times like these that the important role of the United Nations becomes more apparent and much needed. Only through the spirit of global partnership and cooperation, which defines the United Nations, will the world be able to overcome the challenges of COVID-19”.
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“We must always be One nation with One vision in our convictions and efforts. When we hand over our country to our children, we should not only hand over a secure and sovereign country but an environmentally rich country.”- His Majesty the King.
Your Majesty Druk Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck, Hon’ble Secretary for the National Environment Commission, Dasho Sonam P. Wangdi, Executive Secretary for UN ESCAP, Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Resident Representative of UNDP Bhutan, Azusa Kubota, colleagues.
Today, as we mark the World Environment Day, we also celebrate Her Majesty the Queen of Bhutan, Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck’s birthday. Her Majesty is also the Royal Patron of the Environment and thank you also for your role as United Nations Environment Program Ozone Ambassador.
The theme for this year’s global campaign is called “Time For Nature.’ Its aim is to educate and engage audiences about the value that nature provides us and convey the urgency for global action towards the post-2020 biodiversity framework given the unprecedented rates of biodiversity loss.
It is a pleasure to see the National Environment Strategy 2020 being launched today with strong support from the UN family, including at the regional level UN ESCAP and UNEP and the UN Country Team-especially UNDP.
Today, I have three key messages:
Firstly this Environment Strategy is unique in many ways:
-It emphasizes means of implementation (partnerships, innovation, finance, etc.) that are also often overlooked in similar such documents. Given that the RGOB is now developing the country’s 21st century roadmap, this environment strategy establishes key challenges and solutions which will need to be taken into consideration by the 21st century roadmap
-It fully embraces the principles of sustainable development, in a way that is faithful to the Bhutanese approach to environment and development.
-It speaks to the 5-year plan and its 17 National Key result Areas, so is fully connected to the development plan of Bhutan, which is also unique in environmental policies, that tend to be quite separate.
Secondly I greatly appreciate the role that has been afforded to the CSO in implementation. I commend the NEC and the RGoB on working so practically with the CSO fraternity. In a number of environmental areas, such as waste Management the CSO’s deserve our deepest thanks. We know we can make greater progress in the environment when the CSO’s are playing their full partner role.
Thirdly, We have only climbed half the mountain: Although mindful that 5 different UN agencies, ESCAP, UNDP, UNEP, UNICEF and FAO contributed, it is in the implementation of the Strategy that the UN agencies really need to step up.
Dasho Sonam P. Wangdi, whenever you feel we are taking too long to deliver on our implementation commitments please give us a little nudge….while the UN may be here as guests of the Nation, we also know we have to deliver results so that we remain relevant and true partners both in terms of speech and action.
Allow me to also add that this strategy is important for the people of Bhutan and it deserves our best communication skills in spreading its important messages and knowledge. Our various UN offices will assist the NEC in spreading these important messages, as you deem appropriate.
Speaking in my personal capacity, I am grateful that this is the 3rd time I have had the opportunity to support the formulation/roll-out of this strategy…I sense the way your constitution speaks to the environment…’that every Bhutanese is a truesee…that it is to benefit not just present but also future generations’ challenges me at a personal level to do what I can to support such a noble constitution.
As the world struggles through this COVID-19 battle, as always, I am deeply moved by how Bhutan has once again come together in solidarity. His Majesty the King’s leadership inspires and encourages every Bhutanese to come together, in solidarity, as one nation to combat COVID-19. I wish to commend the Royal Government of Bhutan in tirelessly focusing on both the immediate responses to this pandemic and also the longer-term recovery measures. The RGoB’s decision to continue working on the ‘21st Century Economic roadmap’ personifies Leadership in Action.
The UN in Bhutan is responding to the immediate needs of the people; the needs of the most vulnerable while strengthening economic resilience and building longer-term human capital in a comprehensive way so that we find new ways to ‘Build Back Better’.
Allow me to end by quoting the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres
“In planning the coronavirus pandemic recovery, there is “a profound opportunity” to steer the world on “a path that tackles climate change, protects the environment, reverses biodiversity loss and ensures the long-term health and security of humankind.”
FULL TRANSCRIPT OF PRESS BRIEFING
New York, 30 April 2020
“Our pursuit of balanced and equitable socio-economic development brought about immense prosperity for our people. For example, enlightened economic policies ensured that benefits from valuable national resources such as hydro power was neither captured by a narrow economic elite nor influential foreign investors. Instead it was judiciously developed by the state to strengthen our economy and benefit the nation and people at large.”- His Majesty the King.
As Bhutan moves towards LDC graduation, it has become important to increase attention to the need to support a smooth transition.
This national workshop on Capital Market Development in Bhutan aims to engage with the government and key stakeholders to help facilitate the issuance of Bhutan’s first sovereign bonds. It will emphasize experiential learning and exchange of information with experts, institutional investors, and private sector investors.
Today I have three key messages:
Leveraging the capital market for sustainable development
The UN estimates that of the USD 3.9 trillion needed annually for developing countries to meet the SDGs, only USD 2.5 trillion is being invested every year. This means we need to bridge this USD 1.4 trillion annual gap, and I believe we can do so by leveraging the capital markets to complement what private-sector resources already do.
When it comes to leveraging the capital market for sustainable development, we must seek to promote capital markets that finance development that meets the need of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Based on past experiences, we need the primary failure of the capital markets in relation to sustainable development as one of misallocation of capital. In the words of the UN Secretary General, “the world has the resources to deliver, but they are not allocated where they are needed most.”
Studies have confirmed that capital markets were allocating capital in a way that undermines sustainable development. We are approaching the limits to which the amount of land surface can be converted to cropland, and that human processes convert more nitrogen than the combined effects of the Earth’s natural processes. It also confirmed that the marine fisheries, and global forests are being exploited at unsustainable rates of consumption.
Individually, these problems are deeply concerning indicators about the status and stability of our economic development. Collectively, they are profoundly worrying signs that our economy and capital markets are on an unsustainable footing.
What does humanity need from our shared economy? I believe, a resilient, sustainable economy that maximizes quality of life for all, so that people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives within environmental limits it key in sustainable development.
Capital markets are phenomenally important to society when used judiciously. Allocating capital to innovative research and development projects helps to ensure that our economy continually improves the efficiency and effectiveness with which it meets our current and future needs and desires. From this perspective markets provide a key element upon which we build our culture, values and ambitions.
Yang Dak Pai Dren Pa (or Right Mindfulness)
Leaving No One Behind depends on data. If you can’t count the vulnerable, the very essence of Leaving No One Behind is undermined.
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 needs 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.
This disaggregation to Gewog level will grow ever more important as government financial disbursements happen at the Dzongkhag and Gewog levels. Bearing this in mind, I decided to be guided by what is called the Gandhi Talisman which goes like this:
Whenever you are in doubt about your work, apply the 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.
Likewise, key challenges for capital markets firms can be addressed by a structured enterprise data management initiative. Data management has been pushed to the forefront today making accuracy of data important for effective decision making.
Innovative Financing for development
To focus more on sustainability, I think we need to continue to think about innovative financing solutions. Innovation is key to scaling up and broadening the opportunities to leverage the capital markets for development. I encourage you to think about innovation that will enable us to secure profit but also engage in developing countries.
Looking forward, we must judiciously search for game-changing opportunities to leverage the capital market for sustainable development. This is a timely and important work.
The UN is supporting the government in identifying the best practices in innovative financing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the 12th Five Year Plan.
Innovative finance comprises of initiatives to raise new funding or to optimize the use of traditional funding for development. Innovative finance is not about replacing or realigning international assistance, but to identify solutions that mobilize new financing for development, more sustainably and more predictability.
It is also about generating a new relationship on development with the private sector and non-state actors. Innovative finance is at the heart of LDC graduation and to take a recent quote of the Prime Minister, to ‘convert donors to trading partners’. I trust we will do this transition deliberately and strengthen the country’s inherent strengths when it comes to self- reliance.
Allow me to take the opportunity to thank ESCAP for their innovative support to innovative financing. By spearheading this innovation you are tangibly showing how a 21st century UN agency is responding to the needs of a 21st century economy.
Please allow me to close with a quote from the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres:
“Building the road is the first step towards prosperity. The United Nations system stands ready to travel this road with you in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to fulfil our promise to leave no one behind.”
Thank you and Tashi Delek!
“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.
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.
Leaving No One Behind depends on data: if u can’t count the vulnerable, they don’t count.
Knowledge products produced by the Government and UN here in Bhutan provide great insights on vulnerability and the best actions to help vulnerable people
Yang Dak Pai Dren Pa (Right Mindfulness) can help may bring better results
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.
“…it would be important to reflect on and understand the timeless values and intuitive attributes of our ancestors that enabled them to achieve phenomenal success. Firstly, it is the values emanating from Tha Damtse, the sublime trust and bond among the unique concept of the Tsa Wa Sum. Secondly, it is Dremba, the innate sensibility of the Bhutanese, which has contributed immensely to our achievements as a nation. Thirdly, it is the concept of Tendrel, which transcends our common understanding of auspiciousness to also include interdependence and collective efforts to meet our collective goals and aspirations.”- His Majesty the King.
“Today, GNH has come to mean so many things to so many people but to me it signifies simply – Development with Values. Thus, for my nation today GNH is the bridge between the fundamental values of kindness, equality and humanity and the necessary pursuit of economic growth. GNH acts as our National Conscience guiding us towards making wise decisions for a better future.”- His Majesty the King.
Media have huge potential to influence health-related behaviors and perceptions, especially in countries like Bhutan where people have huge trust on information that appears in the public sphere. The general public often uses this information to make decisions and participate in issues that affects their lives. This way journalists play a huge public role, and must therefore, show responsibility in how they package and share information.
“Our pursuit of balanced and equitable socio-economic development brought about immense prosperity for our people. For example, enlightened economic policies ensured that benefits from valuable national resources such as hydropower was neither captured by a narrow economic elite nor influential foreign investors. Instead it was judiciously developed by the state to strengthen our economy and benefit the nation and people at large.”- His Majesty the King.
(First workshop of the Task Force of the National Environment Commission of Bhutan for the revision of the National Environment Strategy)
“When we look at the future, we see the world in a state of ominous uncertainty. Human activities have led to imbalance in nature and ecological shifts that cause growing problems like climate change and natural calamities.”– His Majesty the King.