The United Nations admire the progress Bhutan has made with Gross National Happiness (GNH) and wants its experts to work with Bhutanese experts, the UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, who was on a three-day visit last week said.

GNH has grown from an idea into a paradigm, a concept, national planning process with the GNH commission and has become part of the development thinking and decision making in Bhutan.

“This is an important reference point as UNDP begins to evolve with its own future methodological framework for the human development report,” Achim Steiner, who is also the UN under-secretary general, said.

UNDP, he said, will explore more interaction between global teams and Bhutan together with many others who are thinking about what will development in the 21st century look like including for a mountain kingdom.

The UNDP Administrator said that there was an extraordinary alignment between Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and the GNH.

“I would only encourage that everyone in Bhutan and the world at large to view GNH as an opportunity to work on the practical operationalisation of a wiser and smarter development concept for the 21st century,” he said.

He said, the country has put a finger on a number of issues causing deep disturbance in many societies across the world today. It does not mean that it has all the answers but it is leading a discourse and governmental process of development policy making. “For UNDP, our future is as strong and as focused on working with our partners here as it has been in the past,” Achim Steiner said.

Achim Steiner said that as the country prepares for graduation from the least developed countries (LDC) category, the next four years are critical in consolidating the successes of the country’s development and also to prepare the country for what lies ahead of the country’s development,

He was in the country on three-day visit to co-chair the 14th Round Table Meeting.

“A profoundly exciting observation during my days here in Bhutan has been to sense the strength of identity and the clarity of thought and aspiration that defines the development choices made by the country and its people,” he said.

He said that during his discussions with the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader, Speaker and other cabinet ministers, he was struck by their united commitment to GNH, something that is rare in today’s world.

“The sense of unity, and purpose is what makes Bhutan strong,” he said. “And the leadership of His Majesty who in His vision and leadership gives the country the confidence but also for us who look to Bhutan as a nation who has many challenges in today’s world and the uncertainties of climate change.”

However, what is reassuring is that these topics are at the forefront of leaders in the country.

“That’s why I feel so reassured after these days of spending time here listening and learning, observing that for us in the United Nations and particularly also for UNDP, our collaboration and support into the future is as strong as ever if not stronger.”

Tshering Palden