Planning: Lack of coordination among departments and agencies is one of the barriers in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to participants who attended a three-day workshop on the SDGs, initiated by the Thimphu thromde on January 21.

A participant, Ugyen, during a presentation said that even if there is coordination, there is lack of follow up among the departments.

Thimphu Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee said that silos are the biggest challenges. “If you need to resolve things and move things faster, we have to work together,” the thrompon said.

The thrompon cited an incident where a Thimphu resident complained to him that his water supply had been disconnected.

When the resident called the water supply division, the official with the division said that the road section had cut the water pipe. The road section said that the work was given to a contractor and in the process the resident had no water for three days.

The thrompon said that here department-to-department partnership is missing.

“If water and road sections worked together then the problem would have been solved in the first day,” the thrompon said. “As simple as that, problems remain as problems because one section is blaming the other and not coordinating to solve the issue.”

The resource person, (Dr) Vinay D Lall, who is the chairman and director general with the Society for Development Studies, India Habitat Centre in New Delhi also pointed out that there is a need for department-to-department partnership, which will enable an agency to have better coordination, convergence and leverage of work to attain a goal of an outcome.

Thimphu thromde’s executive secretary, Passang Dorji, said that quite often SDGs are deliberated at executive levels and most of the people at the local government level are not aware of it.

“If the people who work at the ground level are not aware of the SDGs then how are they going to implement it,” Passang Dorji said. “Basically, the workshop is to sensitise on the SDGs.”

Passang Dorji said that the workshop coincides with the formulation of the 12th Plan and the thromde’s plan, therefore the SDGs can be aligned with the Plans. The workshop will also clarify how many SDGs of the total of 17 are directly related to the municipality and how agencies can contribute to attain the goals.

The workshop is aimed at making participants understand knowledge base of the city officials for new tasks to be undertaken to implement the SDGs, to assess the present state of databases in cities in Bhutan and areas where additional work may be required to estimate SDG indicators and transfer results to practice.

The participants are also expected to work out the Bhutan Action Plan for the implementation of the SDGs in the cities.

Some 26 participants from the four thromdes in the country, works and human settlement ministry, urban planners from different agencies and freelance architects, among others examined the 17 SDGs and its indicators, and consulted on techniques to transfer indicator results to outcome-oriented city planning, budgeting and programme management.

Dr Lall said that there are a few challenges that have to be addressed in the cities.

The UN, for the first time wants all the process assessments to be done at a city disaggregated level meaning by different constituencies in the city, by age group, gender and immigrant status, among others, which normally cities don’t develop or generate any data on, he added.

Dr Lall said that one major challenge Bhutan’s cities have to address is how to create the data on the items of the disaggregation that are required to be addressed or whether the local city has the capacity to develop this data base. If the local cities require assistance, they should indicate what kind of assistance is required.

The data has to be analysed after it is developed and the analysed results have to be transferred to the city planning and budgeting process. “Bhutan has a lot of work to do to generate data, analyse them and using it for effective planning,” Dr Lall said.

Inducting outcome features in monitoring, an evaluation system and in-house capacity building at a city level are some of the areas that the agencies and cities in the country can work on. “You cannot always depend on outsiders,” Dr Lall said.

The thrompon urged the participants to put in practice what they have learned from the workshop, wherever they work, to make the developmental process more sustainable. “The workshops you attend are a waste of your time if you don’t put in practice what you have learned from it.”

The workshop ended on January 23.

In September 2015, 193 United Nations (UN) member countries approved the 17 SDGs (also known as the 2030 Agenda, or Global Goals), to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) a 15-year agenda established in 2000.

Dechen Tshomo