Post-pandemic economic recovery top on UN Bhutan’s agenda

United Nations (UN) agencies in Bhutan have been responding to the immediate needs of the people of Bhutan caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, post-pandemic recovery is set to dominate their agenda in the longer term.



Helping to ensure a sustainable future for Bhutan will be the centerpiece of UN Bhutan’s work in 2021 and beyond

Lhakpa Tshering

While United Nations (UN) agencies in Bhutan have been responding to the immediate needs of the people of Bhutan caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, post-pandemic recovery is set to dominate their agenda in the longer term.

As the government moves forward with a focus on recovering from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 crisis, the work of the UN will be to steadily implement the four key outcomes of the ‘sustainable development partnership framework’ with an additional emphasis on building on Covid-19 response and recovery activities.

Besides tremendous achievements made in 2020 despite facing challenging circumstances, helping to ensure a sustainable future for Bhutan will be the centerpiece of UN Bhutan’s work in 2021 and beyond.

UN Bhutan looks towards the future and beyond through supporting choices today that lead to the inclusive, green, and sustainable tomorrow embedded in the global agenda and the Gross National Happiness (GNH) philosophy.

UN Resident Coordinator, Gerald Daly, said the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are ambitious where many regard it as similar to the ambition of GNH. “We have to be working together smarter as much as possible,” he said, adding this is the time to be super intelligent and smart.

Greening Bhutan’s recovery from the pandemic and supporting climate work, including agriculture sector transformation and enhancing food self-sufficiency, will remain their priorities.

The UNDP Resident Representative Azusa Kubota said they are working in the agriculture sector to attract young people to the sector. She said these are some new initiatives which will have a longer-term recovery.

She said that they are also spearheading innovative ways of systems transformations. “It is very important to take the whole-of-government and system approach as the problem we are dealing with becoming more complex because of the inequalities in nature,” she added.

Besides, the UN will continue to support the implementation of Bhutan’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and Bhutan will submit its second NDCs to UNFCCC with clear targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture, industry, human settlement, and transport sectors by mid-2021.

As a continuation of its pandemic response, the UN will prioritize the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination in conjunction with other preventive measures. 

This includes coordinating with donors and the COVAX Facility to mobilize resources for Covid-19 emergency response during the recovery phase including supporting advocacy campaigns, access, and delivery of the vaccines.

To strengthen the prevention of violence against children and women, including improved access to essential services, the UN will continue its work with the government, academia, and civil society organization (CSO) partners. 

The UN will also intensify efforts with government agencies and CSOs as well as existing youth groups to explore more avenues to empower adolescents, especially girls, including the most vulnerable who are not in education, employment, or training.

The focus will continue on the development of a national roadmap for disaster management and the establishment of a National Disaster Management Coordination Committee. This will also comprise a joint program on data, including formulation of data infrastructure for emergency responses and designing social protection programs. 

In further support of UN reform and collaboration, a joint UNCT funds mobilization strategy will also be developed to find synergies and avoid duplication of resource mobilization efforts, including exploring Multi-partner Trust Funds and other UN internal instruments. 

From a business operations perspective, there will also be a focus on making UNINFO fully operational and establishing a Common Back Office as part of the third phase of the global rollout.