Published on June 25, 2021

Bhutan: Financing the Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations in Bhutan responded to the immediate needs of the people and the needs of the most vulnerable in 2020. The UN supported the Royal Government of Bhutan in economic resilience and comprehensively building longer-term human capital to find new ways of building forward better.

This was stated during the launch of the 2020 annual report by the United Nations in Bhutan, Thimphu, on April 8. In a press release, the UN stated that despite the challenges in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it supported Bhutan’s recovery. The UN developed a joint response framework, aligned with the Royal Government of Bhutan’s plans and priorities.

This includes short-term measures to mitigate negative health, social and economic consequences of the pandemic, along with medium to long-term investments to strengthen the capacity of the country to build forward better and ensure resilience to future crises.

This was reflected in the UN Bhutan COVID-19 Socio-Economic Response Plan (UN Bhutan SERP). The UN Resident Coordinator, Gerald Daly, said that result reports of the UN in Bhutan are Annual Performance Agreement (APA) with the government, which helped to bring in financial support and support for vulnerable groups, especially those subjected to gender-based violence. 

Azusa Kubota, UNDP’s Resident Representative said that despite the challenges of 2020, it was a rewarding year thanks to “the largest programme ever delivered for UNDP in Bhutan.”

The report also highlighted how the UN designed and implemented projects to support vulnerable women and  youth, after increasing evidence emerged of their precarious situation in the wake of the pandemic.

One example is how the UN facilitated faster access to medical services through the introduction of an innovative One-Stop Crisis Seal at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital. This helped the public access medical services in a short period of time, enabling the medical staff to prioritise cases.

To ensure financial resources, the UN and the Royal Government launched “Building a Bhutan Integrated National Financing Framework” for apart of the Joint Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Fund Programme and Gross National Happiness.

Expected to run until the end of 2022, the programme is financially supported with US $872,051 by the Joint SDG Fund, a multi-partner trust fund administered by the UN system. It aims to make a transformative contribution to the way Bhutan finances its development, especially to support Bhutan’s goals of long-term financial sustainability, social spending that benefits all people, and green finance to protect the environment and respond to climate change