The Sustainable Development Goals in Bhutan
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Bhutan:
22 September 2021
Her Majesty the Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck
To read the statement by Her Majesty the Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck, UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, on the occasion of Bhutan's 50th Anniversary as a member to the United Nations (21 September 2021), Click on the 'stories' in the homepage.
12 October 2021
Mental Health Matters
Our minds have the potential for great strength but also weakness. While care for our physical wellbeing receives much attention, care for our mental health does not share the same spotlight. The irony in this lies with the fact that our mental, physical and social health are all interdependent and impact one another. So for us to truly lead a well-balanced and healthy lifestyle we must nurture and care for our mental wellbeing as well as our physical. Nevertheless, issues surrounding mental health are often shrouded in stigma and misunderstanding and spoken in hushed voices. Ringing clear above the murmurs is the voice of 23-year-old Ayeshwini Lama, who is bringing the conversation to us by actively advocating for mental health and sexual and reproductive rights for her peers and the youth of Bhutan, “Mental health is equally as important as our physical health. However, we do not focus enough on how mental illnesses can affect our lives. While the pandemic has greatly impacted people’s mental health, it is a common misconception that mental health problems are the ‘new thing’ or something that is trending. Mental health issues are now coming to light, but it does not mean that they didn’t always exist. For this very reason, it is vital that we openly discuss the importance of mental health and why we must advocate for it” a determined Ayeshwini shared. Embodying the change that she wishes to inspire in others, Ayeshwini is actively involved in the community through her work as an advocate, a peer educator with Y-PEER Bhutan, a content creator and editor at ‘Humans of Thimphu’. Her passion for social change is showcased through the application of her professional talent as an engineer to explore climate action and in her personal talents as an a published author with future plans to write books that focus on important social issues. Among the work that she is deeply connected to, Ayeshwini has a personal connection to the importance of mental health, having suffered through pressures that influenced her mental wellbeing and in turn negatively impacted her social and physical health. Her experiences have cemented in her the importance of self-care and mental health and impelled her to embark on a journey to co-founding the “Me for Myself’ (M4M) campaign promoting mental health awareness, “Growing up travelling and meeting new people and cultures, I had this strong need in me to do more, and be more. So, I started taking the extra step and not just waiting for opportunities but creating them. Before M4M, I was creating content on mental health and trying to advocate in my own small ways. Small gestures like making sure that when people come to me to talk about something that’s bothering them, I listen. I think that the COVID era has really brought out the need to improve the conversation around mental health; underscoring the importance of people’s emotional and mental health for community vitality. This is how M4M came to be and honestly, this campaign has seen so many wonderful achievements. I now know more than ever that this is what I have meant to be doing do for a long time.” Ayeshwini said smiling. “Me for Myself was conceptualised during the peak of the pandemic in mid-2020 branching off from the ‘Live Now’ campaign, which focused on keeping youth engaged during lockdown. M4M is a regional online campaign focused on mental health and wellbeing by raising awareness of mental health and the issues related to it. The campaign focuses on three major programs – the Volunteer Program, Mentorship, and School Ambassador Program. Of the three, the School Ambassador Program is not yet implemented due to the partial closing of schools across the Asia Pacific region” Ayeshwini explained. The Volunteer Program has already been through two rounds and has called for applications for the third, teaming with about fifty young Bhutanese in each round. Volunteers are sorted into teams and given weekly tasks such as researching on topics related to mental health and making creative advocacy content such as posters, videos or podcasts. The team at M4M also provides the volunteers with a free comprehensive e-course to all near the end of their 3-month engagement with the campaign. The overall response to the movement has been overwhelming, reflecting the enthusiasm of the youth to get involved and make their voices heard. The campaign hopes to meaningfully engage the youth of Bhutan and the Asia Pacific Region to improve the awareness of mental health, to give the topic the attention it deserves and to provide resources to learn from. In spite of the global pandemic M4M continues to thrive and is working to show those who are struggling right now that they are seen and heard and most importantly not alone, “Mental health is a topic difficult to address in our community. We are not used to talking about our feelings and problems. That is why it is so important to start the conversation- and we can do so by providing a safe space for people who want to learn more and for those who want to be part of the movement by changing our view on mental health. Each one of us has the capacity to be leaders and proactive citizens, and we must take the initiative to become agents of positive change by starting with our own communities” Ayeshwini beamed. Article contributed by Jetsuen Wangmo for the UN/JICA We Care We Share Initiative
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12 October 2021
'Strengthening the Foundations of Democracy through Media Literacy in Bhutan.'
With easy access to internet and various news sources, it is important to understand and make the right judgement of news/media. So to enable and support monks and nuns, who play important role in our community, in becoming critical and smart consumers of news/media, a three-day training on media and democracy literacy was organized by the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD). The training is part of the UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF) project on 'Strengthening the Foundations of Democracy through Media Literacy in Bhutan' where 25 monks and nuns from Thimphu, Paro and Punakha took part.
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01 October 2021
The UN Resident Coordinator's Statement on 21st September, 2021
“Till now, whatever we did mattered little outside, but from today onwards our success and failures will be reflected before the whole world. We have now joined hands with other advanced countries of the world’. His Majesty the Third King. Salutations Honorable Prime Minister, Lyonchen Dr. Lotay Tshering, Lyonpos, Dashos, ambassadors, members of the international community, UN colleagues. Charos Opening Today, we mark a half century of strong partnership in a unique country. We recognize the history of a unique journey undertaken under the wise and dynamic leadership of Their Majesties the Kings- the Third, Fourth and The Fifth Druk Gyalpo. This milestone is not only about reviewing the lessons from this partnership, but also the time to think about how we can strengthen the partnership. We are invited to expand our ambition for the people of Bhutan and take real action to support the most vulnerable sections of the society - because only then can we truly ensure we ‘leave no one behind.’ Today, I have three key messages: 1. Yang Drak Pai Drenpa- development with values 2. A UN that is fit for purpose 3. The next 50 years First Message Yang Drak Pai Drenpa- development with values Pursuing development with values grounded in Gross National Happiness- this is the foundation of UN’s partnership with Bhutan. And leaving no one behind is at its heart. Yan Drak Pai Drenpa- every development initiative that the UN supports the country with must keep in mind the needs of the people. This is the UN pursing development with values - Yang Drak Pai Drenpa. The UN supported the very foundations of modern Bhutan, for example through supporting the establishment of the first airline and environmental trust fund to the current day supporting Bhutan’s capacity to mitigate the impacts of climate change and recovery from COVID. For the 31 UN agencies that work in Bhutan, serving Bhutan is a privilege. The Royal Government’s agenda and priorities are our priorities. The SDGs provide a shared global vision towards sustainable development for all and they under-pin the work of the UN and are so closely aligned to Gross National Happiness. His Majesty has stated that ‘one of our primary objectives is to be self-reliant.’ The UN believes that self-reliance and partnership forms the very basis of development with values AND THIS includes LDC graduation. One such partnership, is with the CSO community. Their Majesties’ vision of a compassionate and just society has been made possible, in part, by CSOs. The global partnership for development is evolving. We wish to further strengthen our listening ability with the 10 ministries, parliamentarians, local authorities, GNHC, environmental organizations, constitutional bodies, dzongkhags, academic institutions, media, private sector and all the other Government entities that the UN is privileged to serve alongside. Second message: A UN that is fit for purpose Today's UN must be ready to handle tomorrow's challenges Recently Lyonchhen wrote in the 12th plan review: ‘For all nations, government and individuals, the pandemic has handed us a reset button with clear pointers on what we much really focus on hereafter. Many such crises will hit mankind. Any nation that cannot press the reset button now will be left behind’. At this historical juncture point, it is important that the UN remains ever fit for purpose: and the strongest possible partners to the Royal Government – I wish to personally thank the RGOB and particularly MOFA for their support in this area. As the world faces the challenges of the pandemic, I am deeply moved by how Bhutan has come together in solidarity. His Majesty’s leadership inspires and encourages all Bhutanese to come together to combat COVID. I wish to commend the Royal Government in tirelessly focusing on both the immediate responses to this pandemic and also the longer-term recovery measures. Speaking last year at the 75th UN General Assembly, Lyonchen said ‘Bhutan remains assured that the UN is and will continue to be instrumental in spearheading global collective action for building a better world.’ Lyonchhen also rightly said that the UN needs to think differently about development and consider new ways of building back better. The UN must evolve to this changing world. We need to be hitting our own re-set button so as to address the challenges and opportunities our Planet faces. The world of today is very different from what it was when the United Nations was created 76 years ago. While there are more countries, more people, more challenges there are also more solutions. Our working methods need to adapt, and we need to create a more agile, effective and accountable organization that delivers results and solutions. It is not enough to say we are part of the solution; our responsibility is to deliver results in the actions we take, day in – day out. 3rd key message: The next 50 years I wish to quote a sentence from Tandin Dorji, one of the winners of the UN@50 essay competition- “In the next 50 years, I envision a developed Bhutan transitioning and striving in a green economy with a thriving natural environment and wildlife.” This is what we as UN staff must envision, alongside Royal Government colleagues, and help shape a country that Tandin Dorji wants to see over the next 50 years UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has identified ‘five horsemen in our midst’ which can jeopardize every aspect of humanity’s future. These five horsemen include surging global tensions; our green planet is burning; mistrust is deep and growing; and the dark side of digital technology raises deep concern by spreading disinformation while undermining governance. We continue to be challenged by COVID which is probably the biggest challenge to our humanity since the second World War. While we live in uncertain times, there are opportunities today that couldn't have been previously imagined. Bhutan has emerged as a beacon of hope in the region and the World as it responds to the double crisis of climate change and COVID. Just as the battle against COVID cannot be won in isolation also the climate crisis requires states to come together through international cooperation. Sharing of resources and expertise between the member states of the UN is needed now more than ever. Therefore, the 31 UN agencies that work for Bhutan have a unique role to play in solutioning the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. This week is important for global governance as leaders from around the world meet in New York… the UN SG is launching the ‘Common Agenda’ which is a detailed roadmap for how humanity can best respond to the challenges and opportunities we are likely to face over the coming 25 years: for example, the common agenda calls for specific deliverables in terms of the further empowerment of WHO, new measures to complement GDP, we need to represent the rights of future generations. I commend the Common Agenda for your reading. I’d like to close with 6 points Firstly, Bhutan plays an important role in UN Peacekeeping and police missions since joining in 2014. Today we have approximately 32 Bhutanese army and police serving to maintain international peace and security – I take this opportunity to thank both the 32 persons and their families for their commitment and professionalism. This work is a testament to Bhutan’s commitment to share the burden along with other Member States. I wish to take this opportunity to thank His Majesty, the Royal Government and the people of Bhutan for your commitment to international peace and security. I also wish to take the opportunity to thank His Majesty for the gift of a Park to honour the 50th anniversary…most especially because it signifies the depth of agreement at the level of values of a great country and an organization that ever strives to deliver on the values inherent in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Secondly…I’d like to thank Her Majesty Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wanchuk for her message today and I quote: ‘For millions across the globe, the UN is a leading champion of global reach, stability and equality and a force to lift the poorest out of poverty’. Thirdly Thanks to all the 31 UN agencies for your great support over the years; most especially FAO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNODC, ITC, WFP and WHO; their 128 staff and their 328 dependents, those who have retired, and those who went on to serve as Lyonpos and members of parliament: all who have served the UN down the years. Fourthly, thanks to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and especially Dasho Kinga for Chairing the RGoB-UN @50 Taskforce and all who served this work. Fifth: Regarding the unveiling of the gift from Paro Penlop, Prince Namgyel I’d also like to pass onto colleagues that the photo is not to be shared over social media. Finally… Please allow me to end with a quote from the UN SG. “At this time of turbo-charged change, the United Nations remains focused on the real problems of real people. We are working for a fair globalization and bold climate action. We are pushing for human rights and gender equality. The UN itself is becoming ever more agile and accountable.” Kadinchey La and Tashi Delek…
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10 February 2021
We stand firm in our efforts to uphold and implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, says Bhutan's Minister of Foreign Affairs
Thimphu, November 20, 2020: To celebrate the World Children’s Day and to mark 30 years of Bhutan signing and ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child, His Holiness the Je Khenpo today issued a decree calling on all to ensure the wellbeing of the children for all times to come. “Bhutan’s efforts towards children’s wellbeing and happiness is commendable. I urge all to continue the efforts and work together to build a society fit for our children, one that cares for the happiness and best interests of our children at all times,” the decree states. To celebrate the day, the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) in partnership with the Dratshang Lhentshog Secretariat, the Ministry of Education and UNICEF Bhutan organized a dialogue between the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Chairperson of the NCWC Dr Tandi Dorji and children on issues concerning children especially during the pandemic. During the dialogue, Lyonpo interacted and responded to questions from children on education, health and child protection issues. The dialogue will be aired on BBS 1 after the 9 PM news and on BBS 2 from 8.30PM today. World Children’s Day, Lyonpo said, is not only a time to celebrate but also to remind all, especially decision and policy makers on the commitments they have made, to abide by them and for children to demand action as many are doing the world over. “Despite the good work undertaken by the Government and many civil society groups, there is still much to be done to ensure the rights of our children and to enable them to fully participate in the society,” Lyonpo said. “As a small Least Developed Country, Bhutan continues to face a number of constraints in terms of resources, capacity and infrastructure. There are many competing priorities of the Government especially during this pandemic with limited resources and disruptions in our economy. However, Bhutan stands firm in its efforts to uphold and implement the principles and provisions of this convention.” “Today as we join many other countries in the world to advocate for all children, let us particularly commit and remember those who are not heard, for the children who are in need of special care and protection, for the children who need us every day to thrive and those most vulnerable. Let us work hard, diligently and hope for a brighter and better future, especially for our children in the post COVID era,” Lyonpo said. To mark signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, November 20 is celebrated globally as World Children’s Day. This year is extra special for Bhutan as the nation celebrates 30 years of signing and ratifying the Convention. Bhutan was among the first countries to sign the Convention on June 4, 1990 and ratify it on August 1 the same year. Amongst the most important achievements after Bhutan ratified the Convention are the drafting of the National Child Policy, the National Action Plan for Child Wellbeing and Protection 2020 and the strengthening of the protection system through development of critical Standard Operating Procedures, guidelines and manuals related to case management, adoptions and alternative care. The establishment of the Woman and Child Toll Free Helpline 1098 and the Central Management System were key initiatives enabling timely and effective services and a systematic approach for the collection of data. The institutional mechanism was further enhanced through setting up of the Dzongkhag and Thromde Women and Children Committees and the Women and Children Welfare Committees at the national level. UNICEF Bhutan Representative Dr Will Parks said that the World Children’s Day this year is taking place during one of the most challenging times. “The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the deep inequalities in our societies and impacted all of us, especially children,” Dr Will Parks said. “UNICEF Bhutan remains committed to support the efforts of the Royal Government of Bhutan to reimagine a more equal, just and sustainable society for our children.” As the occasion also coincides with the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children, a thousand butter lamps were lit at the Kuenray of the Trashichhodzong and prayers recited.
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27 October 2020
United Nations announces funds to fight COVID-19 and “Build Back Better”
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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27 October 2020
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