Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay and the Foreign Minister Lyonpo Damchoe Dorji arrived back in the country yesterday after nearly two week trip to Europe and the United Nations in New York. The main aim of the trip was to attend the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in the 70th session of the United Nations to adopt the new global development agenda ‘Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development’.
The PM first visited and met the Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel with whom the PM had wide ranging discussions on strengthening bilateral relations the two countries, and furthering cooperation in the areas of education, scouting, finance and tourism.
The PM met with the president of the World Wildlife Fund, Yolanda Kakabadse of Ecuador. She highlighted Bhutan’s unique successes in managing the well-being of people, wildlife and environment in Bhutan. The two discussed ways of expanding WWF partnership in Bhutan, including support to Bhutan for Life.
The Bhutanese delegation called on the UNDP Administrator, Ms Helen Clark and thanked her for UNDP’s continued assistance to Bhutan since 1972, and tabled Bhutan’s offer to participate in the Sustainable Development Goals as a pilot country.
At the UN SDG summit, he said that the Sustainable Development Goals are, in effect, like GNH – as both stress “development with values”.
The PM said that his government has already started integrating the SDGs in Bhutan’s development plans. The PM said that Bhutan had institutionalized good governance by embracing democracy given by the Monarchy.
The PM said that though Bhutan pledged to remain carbon neutral six year ago Bhutan was carbon negative.
The PM also called for reforming the United Nations to ensure its relevance and effectiveness. He said countries like India and Japan, Brazil and Germany must be made to serve as permanent members in the Security Council. And Africa must be appropriately represented.
The PM also addressed a “high-level event anchoring a universal multidimensional poverty index within the sustainable development goals”. At the event, the PM discussed the GNH index and Bhutan’s multidimensional poverty index, and considered how Bhutan could contribute towards the development of a global indicator framework for the SDGs.
At the global leaders’ meeting on gender equality and women’s empowerment the PM spoke of the significant achievements Bhutan has made on since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
The PM also had a meeting with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two covered many bilateral issues, but focused on the partnership to fight climate change by developing hydropower in Bhutan. The PM said India currently offsets about 5.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year by importing clean, renewable energy from Bhutan. The PM said that by 2025, both countries could offset 35 million tonnes of carbon a year in India if both countries realize the target to increase hydropower generation to 10,000 MW.
The PM reported on Bhutan’s successes at the high level interactive dialogue on protecting our planet and combating climate change.
Lyonchhen took part in a discussion on “ Beyond the SDGs: A Fresh Start for the Planet”. The conversation was organized by GEF and moderated by Thomas Friedman.
The PM met with the Prime Minister of Slovenia, HE Dr Miro Cerar. The two leaders agreed that both countries share much in common, and agreed to work towards strengthening relations.
At the forum for Landlocked Developing Countries, the PM called for partnerships to help landlocked countries to become ‘land-linked’ to global opportunities.
The PM met with Ms Nisha Biswal, US Assistant Secretary of State, after and they had wide ranging discussions covering bilateral, regional and global issues.
A meeting was also held with the President of Iceland considered a champion of the environment.
In Delhi the PM met Abhay Thakur, Joint Secretary at India’s Ministry of External Affairs, who saw off the PM at the airport.