Development Partners Commit to Meet National Priorities of 11th Five Year Plan

Dec 12, 2013

image12th Round Table Meeting Proceedings
Bhutan, the United Nations Development Programme, and a range of development partners committed to reduce poverty, strengthen the economy, and sustainably develop infrastructure, at the 12th Round Table Meeting in Thimphu on 11-12 December.

The meeting emphasized cooperation between government and development partners to help Bhutan attain self-reliance by implementing results-based programs aimed at accomplishing the objectives of the 11th Five Year Plan.

In his opening speech, H.E. Lyonchen Tshering Tobgay, the Prime Minister of Bhutan talked about the country’s impressive achievements over the last 50 years, but emphasized that much remains to be done, and that the new plan is crucial to help Bhutan build for the future. 
“Our economy is small and fragile, and we are still extremely vulnerable to shocks both from within the country and from the outside world,” said the Prime Minister.

“The Eleventh Plan is ambitious. It sets out a development agenda that is necessarily ambitious. But with the strong foundations of our past, an unwavering faith in our future, an enduring belief in our abilities, and the continued goodwill and support of our time-tested friends, I have no doubt that the Eleventh Plan will be a success – a landmark that lays new foundations for a future that is even more remarkable than our past,” he added.

The United Nations pledged its support to help Bhutan meet its challenges over the next five years through the new One UN Programme, 2014-2018.

Mr. Haoliang Xu, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, said the UN stands ready to help Bhutan rise to meet its challenges, tap its potential, and fully achieve its aspirations, including graduating from the ranks of Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

“Bhutan’s challenges require considerable resources to ensure its smooth graduation from LDC status,” said Mr. Xu. “Therefore Bhutan’s development partners – including CSOs – must continue supporting government efforts using innovative approaches to scale up initiatives that reach the poorest, he said.

“If steady and coordinated assistance is provided that aligns with the Government’s priorities, as outlined in the Eleventh Five Year Plan, concrete results will follow,” Xu added.

Speaking on behalf of 23 UN agencies, Resident Coordinator Christina Carlson called on development partners to consolidate efforts “to achieve joint outcomes – including pooling resources both financial and technical” to contribute to the goals of the 11th Plan.

Carlson quoted an African proverb to stress the importance of collaboration: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Maintaining and measuring Gross National Happiness (GNH) was a key theme of the meeting, and the GNH Commission’s Secretary, Karma Tshiteem, emphasized Bhutan’s development approach to strike a harmonious balance between material and emotional well-being.
“What every human being desires is happiness, and the purpose of development is to create the enabling conditions for happiness,” he said.

In their statements, development partners made strong commitments to support Bhutan in achieving its development objectives and the goal of Gross National Happiness for all.  

The Eleventh Plan serves as a vital platform for achieving a set of development milestones by 2020 – which are outlined in "Bhutan 2020: A Vision for Peace, Prosperity, and Happiness.”  Those include: self-reliance, full employment and a more diverse economy. 

The meeting, jointly organized by the government and UNDP, was co-chaired by Lyonpo Rinzin Dorje, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Haliang Xu UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific.

About the Round Table Meetings
The first RTM for Bhutan was held in the early 1980s. Generally, such Round Table Meetings are held twice in the course of a five-year plan. The previous meeting took place in September 2011. The 11th RTM discussed overcoming Bhutan’s remaining development challenges and innovative approaches to development. Some of the recommendations included the development of a diverse private sector, provision of jobs for young people, connecting rural communities to markets and services, developing commercial agriculture, community-based tourism, and IT-enabled services to balance environmental impact with growth objectives.