UN Resident Coordinator Gerald Daly’s tenure nears end

KARMA CHIMI | Thimphu

In about a month the Resident Coordinator (RC) for United Nations (UN) in Bhutan Gerald Daly will complete his five-year tenure as the RC of UN-Bhutan.

He has been serving as the RC since March 2017 and before his appointment, Gerald served at the UN headquarters.

Among others, he served as head of the program for World Food Program (WFP) Asia, Country Director for WFP Bhutan, Deputy Country Director for WFP India, Head of Disaster Preparedness for WFP Malawi, Head of Logistics in Eastern Sudan for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Head of Logistics in Western Sudan for Goal Ireland.

During the 45th Bhutan Dialogue on 13 January, he expressed his view on UN Bhutan receiving the honor of the Druk Thuksey award from His Majestic the King on a national day last year. 

“This is the work of 50 years and I alongside those who have come before me and the UN have not only been given recognition, they have been given accountabilities which we have to step up.” He added that the recognition has given UN Bhutan a much-needed boost to work even harder.

The UN’s priority is 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the UN Charter, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He said UN Bhutan will keep close relations with the Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign ministry, and Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) to put their priority in place.

“GNH philosophy has benefited the UN a lot as the philosophy is aligned well with the SDGs. However, the gathering of statistics is an issue and as long as we don’t have good statistics, we really don’t know what is happening,” the RC said. 

He further opined that Bhutan should strengthen the National Statistics Bureau (NSB) as statistics are not working to the level that it needs to be. “When we don’t have good statistics, we don’t know where to put our resources.”

The RC is happy that the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) are helping in Covid response in the country.

On the same note, he emphasized that UN Bhutan could do a lot more and UN agencies should help the promotion of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for the creation of jobs in Bhutan.

Some of the major achievements highlighted by Gerald Daly were working with young people and on the climate change front.

To tackle climate change issues, the RC pointed out that the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) should give greater priority to climate studies so that in the future there will be more Bhutanese expertise in the field. “We need Bhutanese people to be as smart as anybody in the world in the area of climate change.”

He added Bhutan should further strengthen the Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (BTFEC) for climate finance in the coming years.

Gerald also addressed the usage of plastics to be banned and those alternatives should be placed like the use of paper bags and other alternatives to help the environment.

In addition, he said a way forward for Bhutan could prioritize the estimated 115,000 young people coming into the workforce over the next 10 years and creating jobs for these people.

“The recent report of resources in foreign direct investment (FDI) is quite low and Bhutan should prioritize increasing FDIs to provide jobs for these 115,000 young people that are entering the workforce in the next ten years,” he said.

Disaster preparedness and the response was another priority area the RC focused on. He said Bhutan is prone to glacial lake outbursts, and that Bhutan falls in a vulnerable seismic zone. “The faster we strengthen the Department of Disaster Management, the better it will be for Bhutan.”

Gerald Daly also pointed out the changes that he has overseen in Bhutan and that urbanization is happening incredibly fast.

On the issue of Bhutan’s graduation from Least Developed Countries in 2023, he said Bhutan’s decision to graduate from Least Developed Countries (LDC) is a decision he respects as it will pave the way towards self-reliant Bhutan. 

Gerald Daly also shared some challenges he faced while working for the UN, like the 1982 War in Lebanon, which he said had given him a particular perspective on what it is to be a human.

While there were challenges, he also had his memorable moments like the experience of the pilgrimage to Aja Nye and Singye Dzong which fortified him and provided him an insight into spiritualism.

At the end of the dialogue, he shared some plans after his retirement like the pilgrimage between Ralung to Kailash as Bhutan has triggered him in spending his time in some of the great meditation caves of Tibet.

He also plans to work with an Irish non-governmental organization (NGO) that works in South Sudan which is in desperate need of applied compassion.

In his message to the UN staff members, Bhutanese and people aspiring to be in the UN office were to always be open about the mistakes that one makes because everybody knows we are human beings. 

“If we are trying to make a difference in this world, we have to be mindful that there will be challenges,” he said.