Bhutan on track to meet most SDGs
The 16-month Covid-19 pandemic has now derailed the country’s progress in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
A 2021 Voluntary National Review Report (VNRR) from the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) found that five goals – poverty, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, reduction of inequalities and partnership for the goals may not be achieved today. .
In the first VNRR 2018, it was reported that only SDG 17 (partnership for goals) was at risk. However, the report also found that progress has been made on most of the SDGs under the 12th Plan (FYP).
VNRR 2021 is a collective, whole-of-society approach based on an obvious evidence-based description of Bhutan’s status in the implementation of the SDGs. The theme and structure of the report revolves around the theme of transformative processes that build on past achievements and learn from the pandemic – as Bhutan strives to ‘build back better’ while moving towards the reclassification of the least developed countries, the SDGs and the raw results. National Happiness (BNB).
Compared to the first VNRR 2018, there is an improvement in the availability of data and the level of adoption of indicators in the VNRR 2021. 93 of the 247 indicators are fully adopted, which represents an increase of 38% compared to 2018 and relevant but unsuitable indicators fell to 30 percent (74 indicators) from 44 percent (107 indicators) in the 2018 VNRR.
The SDGs are accessible through 231 unique indicators.
GNHC Senior Planning Officer Phurba said that in collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics (NSB) – Dewa Platform, an integrated dashboard to monitor BNB, SDGs and national development progress has improved the database to access the indicators.
He said data availability continues to be an issue, as some surveys to access the SDGs required independent surveys, which was not possible due to cost and limited human resource capacity. “However, in collaboration with NSB, we are working to improve data availability.”
Phurba said the 2021 VNRR was a timely mid-term review as the first VNR was developed during the formulation of the 12th FYP where the implementation of the SDGs was incorporated into the plan. âThe findings of this report will be used in future planning and policy formulation. “
Endangered objectives: first objective Poverty
The SDG is accessible to be at risk despite the fact that Druk Gyalpo Relief Kidu protects the most vulnerable during the pandemic, as the pandemic is expected to have a profound and lasting impact on the economy, especially on the livelihoods of vulnerable people .
Phurba said that overall progress and setbacks based on the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MDPI) and Gini coefficient will not be available until after the next Poverty Analysis Report (PAR) in 2022-2023. âAn initial assessment revealed that many people have been affected by the pandemic. “
The Covid-19 and South Asia Social Protection report on Bhutan suggested that economic shocks from the pandemic could lead to an additional 5,503 people falling into the poverty line of $ 3.20 (235 ) per day, and 14,083 people based on a poverty line of 5.50 USD (Nu 404) per day.
Many of these emerging poor are expected to come from informal workers who constitute over 87 percent of total employment in Bhutan.
According to the 2017 PAR, income poverty at the national level was reduced from 23.2 percent in 2007 to 8.2 percent in 2017, while rural poverty was reduced from 30.9 percent to 11.9 percent. percent over the same period, and the MPI fell from 12.7 percent in 2012 to 5.8. percent in 2017.
Fourth objective: quality education
The report says SDG 4 is at risk today due to unequal access to online learning, prolonged school closures leading to school dropouts, and increasing cases of anxiety and loss. depression in students.
The report, however, said that the royal decree emphasizing the need for fundamental reforms in the education system was a positive step forward to improve education, but it is also an indication of the significant shortcomings in the current system.
Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
In May 2020, according to the report, 11,000 people in tourism-related sectors lost their jobs, more than 50,000 people were directly or indirectly affected by the pandemic, and the situation is expected to have worsened with the return of several thousand young people from their homes. overseas amid the pandemic.
According to the Labor Force Survey 2021, overall unemployment reached the highest level to date with a five percent increase in 2020 (6 percent for women and 4.1 percent for men) . Youth unemployment has worsened to 22.6 percent, with women constituting 61.3 percent of the total number of unemployed youth today (6,922 people).
The report indicates that the economy has been impacted by the Covid-19 containment measures. At the start of the 12th Plan, the economy was expected to grow between six and seven percent on average. Growth in 2020 was forecast at 6.9%, which is expected to decline to 6.1% after the first nationwide lockdown.
Phurba said, however, as reported by the Finance Ministry during the 12th FYP mid-term review, that average economic growth is estimated to be around 2.3% by the end of the Plan period.
The report says that the 12th FYP will focus on managing the country’s unstable macroeconomic environment, such as lack of technology and human capital, low production capacity and insufficiently diversified economic base and other economic factors.
Objective 10: Reduced inequality
As in the first ENV, the report indicated that Bhutan still has to tackle the problem of income inequality. The Gini coefficient had increased slightly from 0.36 in 2012 to 0.38 in 2017, with the index higher at 0.35 for rural Bhutan compared to 0.32 for urban Bhutan.
Phurba said inequalities in various forms such as gender-responsive employment where men are more employed than women and the growing gap between rich and poor need to be addressed. The report indicates that the richest per capita consumption quintile is on average seven times that of households in the poorest consumption quintile.
Phurba said Goal 17, Partnership for Goals, was identified at risk during the two VNRRs, as foreign direct investment was limited each year, the withdrawal of traditional development partners and the decline in official assistance to the government. development. He said the pandemic and its impacts on the economy would further endanger Goal 17.
The VNRR report was presented to the United Nations high-level political forum on July 15.