Launch of DEWA, Dashboard to Enhance Wellbeing of All

Monday, 5 July 2021


It gives me an immense pleasure to witness the official launch of the Dashboard to Enhance Wellbeing for All, in short, DEWA.


The launch of the DEWA platform today is a clear example of the efforts led by the Royal Government of Bhutan to enhance the awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals, indicator adoption, and data availability as per the recommendations  of  Bhutan’s first Voluntary National Review Report on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I would like to commend the Royal Government, particularly Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), for spearheading this initiative as part of the commitment to the VNR follow up.


In October 2019, when we--Gross National Happiness Commission, National Statistics Bureau, the Centre for Bhutan and GNH Studies and other line ministries first met [AK1] for a workshop  to conceptualize DEWA[AK2] , we were oblivious of a pandemic called the COVID-19 that would fundamentally change our lives, cause loss of many lives, and disrupt, halt or backtrack development gains across the globe. Then, we were heading into the last Decade of Action before the deadline of 2030 Agenda. Today, we have only eight and a half years left to make the last mile efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.


The challenge of reaching Agenda 2030 was mammoth already before the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has now been amplified. The human development index has plummeted for the first time since records began. Although the number of people living in extreme poverty dropped from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 689 million in 2017, across 107 developing countries, 1.3 billion people, or 22% of the population, live in multidimensional poverty. Since 1990, inequality has increased in most developed countries and some middle-income countries, home to 75% of the world’s population. The crisis has exposed multiple dimensions of inequalities, be it in digital space or vaccine access. In Bhutan, the extraordinary leadership, fast actions by the Royal Government, and community support have collectively contributed to effective containment of the virus, but we are all aware of the increasing prevalence of mental illness, suicides, gender-based violence, and youth unemployment. This virus has spared no one. 


Although COVID-19 has illuminated the challenges the world is faced with, it has also demonstrated the scope for choice in how and where to address those challenges. It certainly triggered renewed interest in policies previously considered unfeasible, such as temporary basic incomes. Many governments launched bold and massive green economic recovery plans. The crisis presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reset the unsustainable development pathways that the global community was pursuing and achieve structural transformation, particularly green, inclusive, and digital transitions. 


The global crisis taught us valuable lessons. One defining lesson is the importance of the Triple As (being Agile, Anticipatory, and Adaptive). The states around the world also realized the importance of building the capabilities and resilience required to respond to systemic uncertainties and risks. Reliable data that is made available real-time is a pre-requisite for navigating the world of uncertainty.


The pandemic forced all of us to rethink the monitoring and reporting requirements for the SDGs framework and prompted countries, including Bhutan, to review their statistical systems and capacities, improve functionality between different data systems, and integrate data more effectively from external sources. As a result, Bhutan chose to integrate its GNH indicators and the Five-Year Plan’s key result areas with the SDGs in this one stop dashboard. It is our sincere wish that DEWA would play a catalytic role in improving data accessibility for all who must make critical decisions daily by applying the principle of the Triple As. We are confident that the DEWA platform would be indispensable for effective planning, monitoring and evaluation with a view to achieving SDGs, the Five-Year Plan goals, and Gross National Happiness (GNH).


The integration will also minimize the reporting burden for the Government in meeting its global reporting requirements, including those for international treaties and conventions.


I would like to commend the Royal Government of Bhutan, particularly the Gross National Happiness Commission, National Statistics Bureau, and the Centre for Bhutan and GNH Studies, and other line Ministries for coming together to develop this one-stop platform. I hope the same spirit of collaboration will continue so that the dashboard will remain as a dynamic tool. This requires concerned institutions to show ownership of relevant indicators and share data in a timely manner so that data availability and accessibility will continuously improve. Similarly, it is our sincere hope that those institutions responsible for providing oversight for SDGs, such as the committees of the Parliament and autonomous institutions, will see the benefit of the DEWA since the attainment of the SDGs requires efforts from the whole of the society.


We in UNDP are truly privileged to have partnered with national institutions in realizing the DEWA. Taking this opportunity, I would like to acknowledge technical inputs provided by our sister UN agencies, such as UNICEF, UNFPA and UNODC. UNDP as a member of the UN family in Bhutan remains committed to supporting national efforts to improve data ecosystem and evidence-base for decision-making. Given the level of ambition enshrined in the Agenda 2030, there is a need for great statistical capacity, not only to generate data periodically and real-time, but also to enhance the utility of data in policies and programmes. 


In conclusion, I would like to congratulate the Royal Government once again for the inclusive and consultative approach that was adopted in conceiving the DEWA, resulting in today’s launch.


Tashi Delek and thank you for this partnership!


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