Yeshey Lhadon

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Tandin Dorji participated at the Annual Ministerial Meeting of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) on September 17.

The ministers of 47 LDCs met virtually on the sidelines of high-level week of 75th United Nations’ General Assembly.

The pre-recorded video speech of the foreign minister emphasised on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the LDCs.

Lyonpo said: “Life as we know has changed and the entire world had to readjust in order to accommodate with the pandemic that still threatens millions around the world. I would like to convey my deepest sympathies to all who have been impacted and pray that through our collective endeavour and good fortune, we will be able to overcome this challenging period very soon.”

The Lyonpo shared his worry regarding Bhutan’s graduation progress from LDC category in 2023.

He said: “This is deeply concerning in the context of Bhutan’s graduation from LDC category as well, it is noteworthy that while we have successfully met the graduation criteria for Gross National Income and Human Asset Income Index, Bhutan has not, through the past two CDP review cycles, have been able to cross the threshold for Economic Vulnerability Index, which in fact will further be worsened from the impacts of the pandemic.”

Lyonpo also mentioned that Bhutan as the chair of LDC group for climate negotiations was committed for all times to come despite the pandemic disruption. He said: “LDC’s stand at the forefront of climate crisis. While the 47 countries contribute the least, yet we suffer disproportionately from the impacts of climate change. Bhutan will continue to work closely with all member states to ensure that the LDC group continues to speak with one voice.”

Lyonpo called on the partner countries for coordination and collective effort to combat the impact of the pandemic. “I also recognize the presence of our development partners whose continued support and cooperation has become even more important as we work towards recovering from the effects of the pandemic,” he said.

Lyonpo pointed out how Covid-19 pandemic have impacted on the different sectors of life despite having a visionary leader. “Bhutan has been fortunate to have a strong national leadership that has provided proactive response to the pandemic threat. However, our response that are centred on surveillance, prevention and containment have posed significant strain on our already limited resources and capacity, including our fragile health system.”

Lyonpo also talked about the impact of the pandemic on Bhutan’s economy and how re-routing development plan was the best option during the pandemic.

“We have had to mobilise all available human and material resources to these efforts. Our National Development Plan has been reoriented to meet urgent and immediate needs. All sectors of economy have been greatly impacted. However, those that build productive capacity, generate employment and strengthen economic resilience are among the hardest hit,” he said.

Lyonpo stated that while challenges there are challenges, there was a need to recognise that “present circumstances present opportunities to accelerate economic diversification and to address structural issues which holds us back such as investments in the rural economy and TVET as a growing number of young people consider the prospects of shifting to agriculture and other vocational sectors.”

The virtual meeting of LDCs, which was chaired by the Republic of Malawi’s Foreign Minister, was also attended by the traditional donors and partner countries who are also known as Friends of LDCs.