The National Assembly will henceforth monitor the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The House passed a motion to this effect yesterday.

The motion was prepared and moved for adoption by the Assembly’s interim “core unit committee” on the SDGs. The three-member committee comprises Tsirangtoed MP Novin Darlami, Bumdeling-Jamkhar MP Dupthob and Khamdang-Ramjar MP Sonam Dondup Dorjee.

The committee’s interim chairman, Sonam Dondup Dorjee, said the decision to bring the SDGs within the purview of the Assembly would help the government consolidate national development goals and the SDGs.

The SDGs, otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a set of goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015 to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

The motion was adopted in recognition of the immutable linkage between Gross National Happiness and the SDGs. “The move will institutionalise parliamentary efforts towards social equity, women’s empowerment and good governance, which form the bedrock of Bhutanese democracy,” he said.

With the adoption of the motion, Parliament will allot a day of every session for deliberation on the SDGs. The House also agreed to ensure integration of the SDG components in the 12th Plan.

The government will allocate adequate money and other resources to the Assembly for exercising its oversight role in relation to the SDGs.

Lamgong-Wangchang MP Khandu Wangchuk said there is a risk that the world’s resources would be exhausted if countries do not implement the SDGs. “If we implement the SDGs future generations can enjoy the resources we have today,” he said.

Bhutan, he said, has been stressing on the importance of sustainable development values at international platforms and that it was important for the country to give the utmost importance to the SDGs. “Not all countries have been able to implement the SDGs,” he said supporting the proposal.

Thirty-seven of the 40 members present in the House voted “Yes” for the motion, while two voted ‘No’ and one abstained.

The House will form “standing committees” to track the progress of various goals. With the endorsement of the motion, Sonam Dondup Dorjee, said advocacy on sustainable and balanced development will be enhanced.

He described Bhutan as “the source of the GNH philosophy and the miracles of inclusive development” and said that the country was already identified as an “early mover” in the SDG arena. He reported that 143 of the 169 SDG targets are relevant to Bhutan.

The SDGs are a set of 17 global goals with 169 targets between them. The goals include ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests.

Sonam Dondup Dorji said that 134 of the SDG targets had already been incorporated in the 11th Plan. “The remaining targets will be included in the 12th Plan. This further gives a reason for Parliament to initiate and align its strategy on SDGs accordingly,” he said.

MB Subba