Thimphu, Bhutan – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator and UN Under-Secretary General, Achim Steiner, who is in Bhutan, acknowledged the long-standing partnership between Bhutan and the United Nations (UN).
Mr. Steiner arrived yesterday to co-chair the country’s 14th Round Table Meeting (RTM), which opened last evening on the theme “Enhancing Happiness and Sustainable Development through Partnerships.” He is the most senior UN official to visit Bhutan in 46 years.
“The Round Table Meeting exemplifies the commitment made by the Royal Government of Bhutan to be a world leader in sustainable development, by pursuing the ambitious goal of Gross National Happiness and committing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Mr. Steiner. “The UN family is excited to be a partner on this dynamic development journey that is dedicated to leaving no one behind.”
The Prime Minister, Dr. Lotay Tshering said despite many successes, Bhutan still have much to do. “We need to reach the unreached, and ensure that no one is left behind, as echoed in the Sustainable Development goals (SDGs).
Held twice over the course of the Five-Year Plan (FYP), the Round Table Meetings are an important forum to develop policies. It provides an opportunity for Bhutan and its development partners to discuss development priorities and how best to achieve the government’s goals.
The 12th FYP, dubbed as the last mile plan will help the country graduate from the Least Developed Country (LDC) ranks.
At the official opening of the 14th RTM last evening, the Prime Minister said Bhutan is set to graduate from LDC by 2023. “But a deeper dive into this transition is making me more worried,” he added. “We really have to be strategic during this last-mile ride, because we have been consistently qualified only within the social indexes and never on the economic vulnerability front.”
The UN System in Bhutan remains committed to supporting the government to not only meet its GNH aspirations and achieve the SDGs but also in ensuring a smooth transition to a middle-income country.
Bhutan’s graduation, the Head of UNDP and UN-Under-Secretary General said, should not be an opportunity for the development partners to “withdraw our support”. “It should instead be an opportunity to evolve our partnership with Bhutan, and change terms, level and quality of our engagement to take the partnership forward.”
Bhutan became a member of the United Nations on 21 September, 1971.The UN office in Bhutan was established in early 1970s. Since then, the country has been home to many UN agencies, funds and programmes that together support the Government in delivering national development needs and improving the socio-economic conditions of the people of Bhutan.
The UN Country Team today comprises of eight resident UN and 14 non-resident UN agencies. The agencies work in a wide range of areas including poverty eradication, environment conservation, climate change mitigation and disaster risk reduction, inclusive governance, education, health, and youth empowerment to address priorities of the Bhutanese Government.
Accelerating and achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) remains a priority as the UN System in Bhutan continue to work with the Royal Government through innovative partnerships, cutting-edge global knowledge, technical and financial assistance.
Dechen Wangmo, Communications Analyst, UNDP Bhutan, tel: +975 322424 ext: 135, Mobile: +975 1734 3086, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @UUNP_Bhutan