UNDP and Development Partners commit to meet Bhutan’s National Priorities
Bhutan, the United Nations Development Programme, and a range of development partners committed to reduce poverty, strengthen the economy, and sustainably develop infrastructure, at the recent 12th Round Table Meeting in Thimphu.
The meeting emphasized the need for cooperation between government and development partners to help Bhutan attain self-reliance by implementing results-based programs aimed at accomplishing the objectives of the 11th Five Year Plan.
It was co-chaired by Mr. Haoliang Xu, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific and Lyonpo Rinzin Dorje, Bhutan’s Foreign Minister.
Mr Xu said the UN stands ready to help Bhutan rise to meet its challenges, tap its potential, and fully achieve its aspirations, including graduation from the ranks of Least Developed Countries (LDCs). UN support for Bhutan will be provided through the new One UN Programme, 2014-2018.
“Bhutan’s development partners – including Civil Service Organizations – must continue supporting government efforts using innovative approaches to scale up initiatives that reach the poorest,” Mr. Xu added. “Bhutan’s challenges require considerable resources to ensure its smooth graduation from Least Developed Country status.”
Mr. Xu commended Bhutan on its progress, which has made it one of the world’s fastest growing economies. The country’s democratic institutions have taken firm root and provide a solid foundation for ensuring inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, justice and the rule of law, he said.
But he stressed that more work needs to be done to alleviate stubborn poverty, diversify the economy, provide better education especially for women, and to increase the number of women in elected offices.
In his opening speech, H.E. Lyonchen Tshering Tobgay, the Prime Minister of Bhutan said that despite impressive achievements over the last 50 years much remains to be done, and that the new plan is crucial to Bhutan future.
He said the new Eleventh Plan is ambitious, and added that it will “be a success – a landmark that lays new foundations for a future that is even more remarkable than our past.”
Speaking on behalf of 23 UN agencies, Resident Coordinator Christina Carlson called on development partners to consolidate efforts “to achieve joint outcomes – including pooling resources both financial and technical” to contribute to the goals of the 11th Plan.
Carlson quoted an African proverb to stress the importance of collaboration: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Maintaining and measuring Gross National Happiness (GNH) was a key theme of the meeting, and the GNH Commission’s Secretary, Karma Tshiteem, emphasized Bhutan’s development approach to strike a harmonious balance between material and emotional well-being.
“What every human being desires is happiness, and the purpose of development is to create the enabling conditions for happiness,” he said.
The meeting also hosted the launch of two key reports: the UNDP MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF) Report which builds on existing employment strategies to tackle the issue of Bhutan’s youth unemployment, and UNICEF’s Situation Analysis Report of Children, Youth and Women in Bhutan. The “Uniting for Youth Bhutan” website was also unveiled at the meeting. It highlights UN programmes for youth and the opportunities that young people can access. The site will provide a space for youth to present fresh thoughts and ideas for various aspects of development.
The reports and website were jointly released by Mr. Xu and H.E. Lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tsempo, Minister of Labour and Human Resources, Royal Government of Bhutan.
In their statements, development partners made strong commitments to support Bhutan in achieving its development objectives and the goal of Gross National Happiness for all.