Early this week, in the lead up to the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, the U.S. Bhutan made bold and urged the members of the world body to lend their ears to some encouraging stories from the Himalayan kingdom amid far too many pictures of doom and gloom.
The world economic forum’s sustainable development impact and climate action summits were an opportunity for Bhutan to remind the countries around the world that with political will and concerted efforts, achieving the sustainable development goals is within the reach of every nation on earth.
For Bhutan, coming to grief is not an option. Failure cannot be seen even as a remote possibility because we have already set the efforts in train by integrating all the relevant—16 of the 17 sustainable development goals—into the 12th Plan. And, more than ever, relevant stakeholders—private sector and civil society organisations—are being involved to make assurance doubly sure that no one is left behind.
The progress, all in all, has been encouraging. The Bhutan story so was received by the world leaders in an atmosphere of solemn contemplation, as a story of hope at a time when the world is gripped by “a general feeling of pessimism and despondency”.
The world today, among others, is challenged by war and deadly conflicts, climate crisis and widespread gender-based violence and inequality.
It is in this backdrop that the UN Chief António Guterres announced the coming to life of the 2030 agenda and warned the nations that the world may be set to miss the deadline.
Globally, going by the current pace of development, there could be almost 500 million people in extreme poverty by the close of the target year 2030. The call to step up the efforts could not be louder and more urgent.
While the temptation to give ourselves a pat on the back may be irresistible, this could be the most opportune time for us to look inside and lay the challenges to heart. It has not been easy for us to get to where we are today and we are also deeply aware of the challenges that lie ahead.
Our five-year plans, which are guided by gross national happiness, have long laid importance on and prioritised the United Nations’ 2015-2030 agenda, but they, in and by themselves, will not solve the problems facing us today or prepare us for the future that will bring more complex challenges at our doors.
We may well be on track to achieving the global agenda 2015-2030, but complacency remains our greatest challenge. Because Bhutan stands a good chance to succeed, we must make every effort to fight shy of coming to a pretty pass.