‘Pur­suit of hap­pi­ness is fun­da­men­tal hu­man goal,’ Min­is­ter of Bhutan tells UN Assem­bly

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2Oc­to­ber 2015 – Guided by its de­vel­op­ment phi­los­o­phy of “Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness,” Bhutan has con­sis­tently worked to en­sure that the peace, se­cu­rity and well-be­ing of its peo­ple al­ways re­main at the cen­tre of de­vel­op­ment, the Min­is­ter for For­eign Af­fairs of the South Asian coun­try told the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly to­day.

“Bhutan has achieved most of the MDG [Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goal] tar­gets. Poverty has been re­duced to 12 per cent. Our pri­mary school en­rol­ment rate is nearly 100 per cent and life ex­pectancy has in­creased to 68 years,” de­clared Ly­onpo Dam­cho Dorji, adding that Bhutan re­mains a “bas­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion” with 72 per cent of land un­der for­est cover.

“Our ef­fort to safe­guard the en­vi­ron­ment is re­in­forced by a con­sti­tu­tional man­date to main­tain a min­i­mum of 60 per cent of our land un­der for­est cover for all times,” he con­tin­ued. “Our achieve­ments would not have been pos­si­ble with­out good gov­er­nance.”

In ad­di­tion, Min­is­ter Dorji re­called that Bhutan spear­headed the adop­tion of the As­sem- bly res­o­lu­tion en­ti­tled, “Hap­pi­ness: to­wards a holis­tic ap­proach to de­vel­op­ment” in 2011, which led to the an­nual ob­ser­vance on 20 March of the In­ter­na­tional Day of Hap­pi­ness.

“The pur­suit of hap­pi­ness is a fun­da­men­tal hu­man goal and em­bod­ies the spirit of the 2030 Agenda,” he high­lighted, re­fer­ring to the set of 17 Global Goals adopted by the UN Mem­ber States last week. “Even though we have con­trib­uted least to the causes of cli­mate change, we, like other least de­vel­oped coun­tries (LDCs) are amongst the most vul­ner­a­ble to its ad­verse im­pacts.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Min­is­ter, ex­pec­ta­tions are that by 2025, Bhutan – through the sale of its clean hy­dro-power – would have the ca­pac­ity to off­set ap­prox­i­mately 35 mil­lion tonnes of car­bon per an­num in the re­gion, which he said, is “no small feat con­sid­er­ing Bhutan’s emis­sions [are] un­der 7 per cent of that fig­ure.”

“In mov­ing for­ward, the first lit­mus test for our com­mit­ment to ac­tion on the 2030 Agenda will be whether or not we reach an am­bi­tious and legally bind­ing agree­ment at COP21 [the UN cli­mate change con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber],” he in­sisted. “A sec­ond test of our com­mit­ment to ac­tion would be whether we are able to de­liver on our prom­ises and pledges on the means of im­ple­men­ta­tion for the 2030 Agenda.”

On the is­sue of the UN re­form, Bhutan’s For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter said the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil must re­flect cur­rent geo-po­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties.

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