Lyonchoen spoke about terrorism, poverty, and climate change, among others, at the summit 

BRICS-BIMSTEC: Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay pointed out that terrorism remains a “grave threat” to global peace, security and stability, in his statement at the BRICS-BIMSTEC outreach summit on October 16 in Goa, India.

“We are here at a time when our host, India, has over the past several months suffered frequent terrorist attacks,” Lyonchoen said. “Bhutan strongly condemns these terror attacks,” he added. “Bhutan stands in solidarity with India and all like-minded countries in the fight against terrorism.”

Lyonchoen pointed out that BIMSTEC is working towards early ratification of the Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organised Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking. “We should examine how this Convention, can leverage on the efforts of BRICS members, to strengthen our common fight against terrorism, through exchange of best practices, information and knowledge sharing,” he said.

During his statement at the BIMSTEC Leaders’ Retreat on the same day, Lyonchoen also raised the issue. “If the conditions of peace and security do not prevail, it will become even more challenging for us to achieve the progress that our individual governments and regional organisations such as BIMSTEC have set out to achieve for our peoples.”

Lyonchoen also spoke about poverty at the BRICS-BIMSTEC outreach summit. “It is an anomaly, that while our two groups account for 30 percent of global GDP, we also house approximately half of the world’s poor,” he said. “It is in light of this that the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is crucial for both our groups, as well as for the world at large.”

He pointed out that if global poverty is to be further reduced, BRICS and BIMSTEC members will have to replicate the rapid growth rates that both India and China achieved in the past two decades, which has halved global poverty.

“For Bhutan, the principles and objectives of the 2030 SDG Agenda are consistent with Bhutan’s national development framework of Gross National Happiness,” he said. “Guided by this timeless vision propounded by our Kings, we have always ensured that peace, happiness and wellbeing of our people remain at the core of all our endeavours,” he added. “We are, therefore, confident that we will achieve the SDGs before the deadline of 2030.”

Lyonchoen also dwelt on climate change. “Despite having contributed the least to climate change, Bhutan has not been spared from adverse impacts of extreme weather patterns and rising global temperatures,” he said, pointing to the recent flash floods the country experienced.

“In this context, we look forward to the entry into force of the Paris Agreement this November, and commend the leadership shown by India, China and Brazil as well as by Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand to ratify the Paris Agreement,” he said.

Lyonchoen also pointed out that Bhutan’s partnership with India in hydropower is probably the world’s only transnational initiative to reduce carbon emissions. “Under this mutually beneficial partnership, we currently offset about six million tonnes of carbon dioxide in India each year,” he said. He added that once the projects are complete, another 37 million tonnes of carbon dioxide will be offset in the region every year. “This clearly demonstrates that countries can work together to address Climate Change,” he said.

Lyonchoen pointed out that despite the progress BIMSTEC has made the past 19 years, its full potential remains untapped. “Therefore, I believe that this outreach Summit can give BIMSTEC, the much-needed momentum, to make it an effective and well-integrated regional group, successfully linking not just South with South-East Asia, but now with BRICS as well.”

Lyonchoen said that the BRICS countries have emerged as the key drivers of global growth. “BRICS can inspire and motivate BIMSTEC, and other regional and sub-regional groups, to become more integrated and effective,” he said. “This Summit initiated by Prime Minister Modi is a step in the right direction, and provides an excellent starting point to explore opportunities for partnership between BRICS and BIMSTEC.”

The BRICS countries are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The BIMSTEC members are Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.

Lyonchoen returned to the country yesterday.

Staff reporter