Bhutan Is On Track To Achieve The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals


Last year, the Voluntary National Review of Bhutan to UN found that except for networking and economic vulnerability, the country was on track in implementing the SDGs.

(Source: AJ Heath)


By Choki Wangmo | Kuensel

Despite results from the Global Sustainable Development Report 2019 (GSDR) pointing towards the unsustainable model of development and implementation of SDGs 2030 in the world, Bhutan is well on the way to achieving the goals.

The Future is Now: Science for Achieving Sustainable Development is the first quadrennial report prepared by 15 independent groups of scientists, appointed by the UN Secretary General.


Source: UN Sustainable Development


The report concluded that the world is at the risk of irreversibly degrading the Earth’s natural systems and is off-track in achieving the SDGs.

Bhutan’s progress so far in achieving the 17 SDGs

However, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the implementation of SDGs in Bhutan was synonymous to Bhutan’s developmental principle of Gross National Happiness (GNH).

“We are on track. This year, the United Nations General Assembly’s theme is localising SDGs. No country in the world has localised the goals like Bhutan has,” Lyonchhen said.

According to the 17 SDGs, the country has identified 17 National Key Result Areas. The Secretary of Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), Thinley Namgyel, said that there were different committees at different levels to provide dedicated executive guidance and administrative support to SDG implementation.

The 15-member GNH Commission, chaired by the Prime Minister, assumes the responsibility of overseeing SDG-related matters.

The Prime Minister said the GNHC was entrusted with the responsibility to coordinate, advise, monitor, evaluate and report on the progress of the implementation of the SDGs in Bhutan.

Last year, the Voluntary National Review of Bhutan to UN found that except for networking and economic vulnerability, the country was on track in implementing the SDGs.


Source: UN Bhutan


“If we are heard throughout the world, we would be an example on the implementation of SDG 2030. Preparing a voluntary national review is hard, but to know how far we have come and how we can go forward, we will produce the report annually,” the Lyonchhen said.

Four critical areas to address

The report emphasised four key areas at tipping point — inequalities, climate change, biodiversity loss, and increasing amounts of waste from human activity, which would cause irreversible impact on the planet if changes were not made urgently.

An official from the GNHC said that besides Bhutan’s constitutional mandate of maintaining a minimum of 60 per cent of forest cover, the country has also prepared and implemented the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) and is now working on the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) focussing on climate change and water impact.

The Government has also developed the National Action Programme to combat land degradation as well as the National Biodiversity Action Programme.

Benefits of developing the Sectoral Adaptation Plan of Action

To provide better sectoral focus in terms of adaptation actions, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest developed the Sectoral Adaptation Plan of Action (SAPA) to guide its project, programme and activity alignment.

“Keeping the commitment of carbon neutral development, Bhutan developed sectoral strategies on waste, transport, industry and the elaboration of GHG mitigation measures in three sectors of human settlement, industry and energy efficiency,” the official said.

Resident Coordinator of UN Bhutan, Gerald Daly, said that the UN has contributed in Bhutan’s effort to adapt to and build resilience against the impact of climate change through the Green Climate Fund.

“Bhutan’s carbon-negative feature is highlighted in this global report which shows that Bhutan is indeed a valued environmental role-model to the rest of the international community,” Gerald Daly said.

The report projected that the global use of materials is set to almost double between 2017 and 2060, from 89 gigatons to 167 gigatons, with increased levels of greenhouse gas emissions and other toxic effects such as those from mining and other pollution sources.

In the country, reports have shown that the import of fuel-based vehicles is on the rise due to inadequate public transport in urban areas.

Promoting the usage of electric vehicles

To minimise long-term impacts in the country, GNHC official said that RGoB had plans to encourage the use of electric vehicles.

The public will be able to do so through facilities such as quick charging stations, as well as subsidies and tax exemption.

To increase the usage of zero emission vehicles in the country, there are initiatives to replace fuel-based taxis by electric taxis through the introduction of the Bhutan Rapid Transport (BRT) in the capital city to ensure fast, comfortable and cost-effective services.

“By 2023, Bhutan aims to reduce the frequency of urban transport services from 15 to 10 minutes. We are also exploring possibilities of replacing fuel-based bus by the electric buses,” the official said.

Gerald Daly said that 300 electric vehicles and 12 fast-charging stations are coming to Bhutan, which is in line with the GSDR report.

“This project is catalytic as it will help to test and prove the viability of new technology, reduce pollution, strengthen our private sector and perhaps most importantly, reduce our reliance on expensive fuel imports.”

Problems faced by rural communities in Bhutan

In Bhutan, due to increased rural-urban migration, there were reports of fallow agricultural lands in rural areas although agriculture was identified as one of the five jewels to provide livelihood.

People abandoned their fields mainly due to rising human-wildlife conflict in the east and the south.

GSDR zoomed in on the need to develop food, energy systems, consumption and production, and cities for human health and well-being.



Graphic: Facebook/UN Bhutan


In the 12th Plan, strategies to minimise human-wildlife conflict was identified. In addition, providing incentives, strengthening the irrigation system, farm mechanisation, enhancement of farm labour, implementing a price support system for agriculture produce and creating a network for post-production and marketing were some of the key areas to be addressed.

Thinley Namgyel said that in the rural communities, farmers were provided subsidy in the form of training, agriculture tools and seedlings to make sense of the fallow land and to promote food security.

“To tackle human-wildlife conflict, electric fencing is provided free of cost and the ministry of agriculture is exploring innovative ideas to solve the issue with the advent of frontier technology.”

Community-led ideas such as insurance scheme to cover the losses, he said, were supported and looked after by the ministry.

“There is also a revised Human-Wildlife Conflict Management Strategy (2018-28) which is in the final stages of formulation, to tackle the issue.”


This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.


Related Posts

Media Workshop On Climate Change, Solutions & Sustainable...

With most of the participants being media practitioners, they will now work towards producing content that will help the...

Sep 05, 2019 23:58

Advocating For A More Balanced Approach Towards Sustainable...

According to the World Bank’s latest report, forestry constitutes an important but under-utilised economic sector in...

Jul 26, 2019 21:18

EU Commits Additional 7.3 m Euros To Support Bhutan’s Sustainable...

The Lyonchhen shared that the top priority for Bhutan is to ‘narrow the gap’ and address inequalities in the country.

Jun 22, 2019 22:28

Bhutan Observes World Day To Combat Desertification, Advocates...

In Bhutan, this day is considered important as it focuses only on land.

Jun 17, 2019 18:28

Applying Bhutan’s Tenets Of Gross National Happiness As...

The UNDP Administrator said that there was an extraordinary alignment between the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and...

Mar 19, 2019 10:38

UN Supports A ‘Just, Harmonious And Sustainable’ Bhutan – Where...

“When countries are able to support equality of different people, we know that those countries are more stable in the...

Jan 31, 2019 13:12



Snowman Run – As Important As It Is For Bhutan, The Run Is For The World

The run was envisioned by His Majesty The King after multiple visits to the highlands.

Oct 14, 2019 20:28

Bhutan To Be First Country To Achieve Universal Health Coverage: Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering

The ultimate objective is to provide access to health care for all people.

Sep 29, 2019 00:28


Patra – Bhutanese Art Of Wood Carving

Patra carvings can be found in the production of books, images, architectural designs, furniture and many other wooden artefacts.

Oct 10, 2019 10:18

Bhutan's Waste Recycling Plant - Greener Way Creates Value Out Of Plastic Waste

Through the modification of plastic waste by using better recycling strategies, the firm produces plastic poles for socio-economic and...

Oct 07, 2019 11:44


Bhutan’s Pelden Wangchuk Wins 10th Edition Of Tour 0f Dragon Mountain Bike Race

This year, the race also saw the highest number of female participants compared to past years.

Sep 10, 2019 01:08

Tour Of The Dragon – Toughest One Day Bike Race Starts On 7 September In Bhutan

It takes sheer toil and stamina for the top riders to complete the 268 km race which finishes at the capital, Thimphu.

Sep 06, 2019 23:58


Cottage & Small Industries Flagship Programme Rolled Out In Bhutan, Set To Create More Jobs

The CSI sector was identified as one the flagship programme in view of its greater socio-economic roles in Bhutan.

Oct 11, 2019 15:38

Bhutan’s Himalayan Food Aims To Produce Healthy Snacks With A Worldwide Reach

Himalayan Food currently produces potato chips, apple chips and banana chips.

Sep 25, 2019 23:58


Plans In The Pipeline To Set Up More Homestays In Sakteng, Eastern Bhutan

We are hopeful that our homestay business in Sakteng will boom with the increase in the number of tourists."

Oct 12, 2019 12:43

Thimphu Tshechu And What It means To The Bhutanese

The Thimphu Tshechu is the biggest festival in Bhutan, among other religious tshechus that happen in every district.

Oct 08, 2019 23:58


Launch Of Karen Greenspan’s Footfalls From The Land Of Happiness: A journey Into The Dances Of Bhutan

The book delves into familiar subjects that are what continues to shape Bhutan’s image.

Oct 05, 2019 10:18

Critically Acclaimed Film - Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, Showcases The Magic Of Bhutan’s Highlands

Directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji, this highly acclaimed movie has been accepted for more than 10 international film festivals.

Sep 23, 2019 23:28

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!