Voluntary National Review 2018


Bhutan’s Main Message for Voluntary National Review 2018

  1. Guided by the development philosophy of Gross National Happiness, Bhutan is committed to realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Bhutan will graduate from the Least Developed Country category on completion of its 12th Five Year Plan period (2018-2023). The 12th Plan will be Bhutan’s transition plan to non-LDC status during which concerted national efforts will continue towards implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

  2. Bhutan is well on track in implementing the SDGs. Having made great progress in its socio-economic development, the incidences of income poverty reduced from 23.2 per cent in 2007 to 8.2 in 2017, while multidimensional poverty fell from 12.7 per cent in 2012 to 5.8 in 2017 respectively. Income inequality, on average, has remained at a minimal level; and the economy has grown at an average of 7.5 per cent along with structural changes. The share of the industry to total GDP has increased to 41.5 per cent in 2016 from 11.5 per cent in 1980, and service sector contributed about 42 per cent to the total GDP. Bhutan's population today is increasingly urbanized, young, and educated with half the population below 28 years; and unemployment under 2.5 per cent.

  3. Despite the progress made, Bhutan is confronted with the following challenges in its development efforts:
    • In ensuring that no one is left behind, Bhutan faces last mile challenges. In the 12th FYP, Bhutan aims to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and address the needs of vulnerable groups. It endeavours to reduce income and multidimensional poverty to less than 5 per cent. The Gini coefficient increased slightly to 0.38 in 2017 from 0.36 in 2012, indicating a need to assess existing policies and programmes. Further, addressing the needs of vulnerable groups through targeted interventions is a priority. Promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls has been identified as one of the sixteen national key result areas. Fourteen different vulnerable groups have been identified through a Vulnerability Baseline Assessment. Bhutan is currently in the process of drafting the National Disability Policy and National Gender Equality Policy.

    • Enhancing productive capacity to develop economic resilience is vital to sustainable graduation and achieving the SDGs. While the economy has grown steadily over the years, hydropower remains to be the major contributor to the economy and efforts to optimally tap the potential of this resource continues. Bhutan aims to diversify investments into tourism, organic agriculture, mining, and cottage and small industries, with the objective to increase the share of national revenue from non-hydro sectors to over 75 per cent and attract approximately Nu. 10 billion ($150 m) in FDIs. Although the overall unemployment is low, youth unemployment remains high at 11 per cent. Initiatives will be undertaken to establish ‘entrepreneurship ecosystem’ so as to provide a platform for innovation to generate green jobs through the participation of corporate and private sectors.

    • Bhutan aims to further develop its human capital and needs to take advantage of its demographic dividend. While tremendous progress has been made in education with near 100 percent school enrolment, initiatives to improve the quality of education including learning outcomes, inculcate innovative and creative mindset, and enhancing employability will be undertaken.

    • Sustainable graduation and effective implementation of the Agenda 2030 are contingent on the availability of adequate and timely resources. This necessitates a Financing Needs Assessment to develop a resource mobilization strategy for the effective implementation of the SDGs. Bhutan will explore both domestic and external financing mechanisms. Measures to increase domestic revenues through expansion of tax base and improvement in revenue collection systems will be pursued. Given Bhutan’s effective implementation of ODA and its relations with international development partners, Bhutan will further explore innovative financing opportunities with multilateral and bilateral partners. FDI and PPP will be key financing measures; and efforts to improve the ease of doing business are ongoing. In view of Bhutan's commitment to conservation, international green financing opportunities will also be explored.

  4. Bhutan looks forward to receiving the support of the international community to ensure the hard earned developmental gains are not derailed by the perils of climate change and natural disaster; and that the institutional capacity including human resources are in place. 


Focal point
Mr. Chencho,
Chief, Perspective Planning Division
Gross National Happiness Commission
Royal Government of Bhutan.

Documents & Reports

National Reports
Report Topics covered Process
National Report - Bhutan Rio+20;

Partnerships & Commitments
The below is a listing of all partnership initiatives and voluntary commitments where Bhutan is listed as a partner or lead entity in the Partnerships for SDGs online platform
Capacity development of SAS member countries for the preparaion of specific policies to implement goal 14

South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP) is an inter-governmental Organization, established in 1982 by Governments of the eight South Asian countries to promote and support protection, management and enhancement of the environment in the region. Countries, namely; Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have ratified the articles of Association of SACEP. It is also registered with the Secretariat of the United Nations as Multilateral Organization in accordance with under the Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations. SACEP has its hea...[more]

South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme - SACEP (IGO), Ministry of environment, Ministry of Shipping, Coast Guard, Navy, Disaster Management Ministry, Ministry of Fisheries of each member countries.
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Gross National Happiness Index

Gross National Happiness is a term coined by His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the 1970s. The concept implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of wellbeing. The Gross National Happiness Index is a single number index developed from 33 indicators categorized under nine domains. The GNH Index is constructed based upon a robust multidimensional methodology known as the Alkire-Foster method. Source: The concept of GNH has often been explained by its four pillar...[more]

Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Poverty-Environment Partnership (PEP)

The Poverty-Environment Partnership (PEP) is an informal network of bilateral and multilateral development agencies, UN organisations and international NGOs. The PEP seeks to integrate poverty reduction, environmental sustainability and climate resilience in global, national and local development agendas. With agreement to the SDGs , the PEP is launching a ‘getting to zero’ call to action—a unifying vision for the SDGs of reaching zero extreme poverty, zero net greenhouse gas emissions, and zero net loss of natural assets. This will be the cornerstone of PEP’s future strategy and comm...[more]

Members of the PEP Reference Group, which oversees PEP planning and activities, are: Asian Development Bank Austrian Development Agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Development Alternatives Durban City Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation Programme (ESPA) Finland Ministry for Foreign Affairs Government of Bhutan International Centre for Climate Chan...[more]
Sustainable Development Goals
United Nations