Bhutan launches UNDP supported online platform to track progress towards SDGs

By Laxman Datt Pant

Bhutan launches UNDP supported online platform to track progress towards SDGs

Bhutan has launched an integrated online platform in order to provide online status of the country’s socio-economic development by tracking its progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Gross National Happiness (GNH), and the 12th Five-Year Plan. The creation of the platform, the dashboard to enhance the wellbeing of all (DEWA), was supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Launching DEWA, which means wellbeing in Bhutan’s national language Dzongkha, on July 5, Dasho Dr. Lotay Tshering, the Prime Minister of Bhutan, stated that with the dashboard in place, concerted efforts must be made to ensure it serves its intended purpose.

Anticipating that the DEWA platform would be indispensable for effective planning, monitoring, and evaluation, Azusa Kubota, the Resident Representative (RR) of UNDP Bhutan, remarked:

“The pandemic forced all of us to rethink the monitoring and reporting requirements for the SDGs framework and prompted countries, including Bhutan, to review their statistical systems and capacities, improve functionality between different data systems, and integrate data more effectively from external sources.”

Talking to DevelopmentAid, RR Kubota stressed:

“I am optimistic that those institutions responsible for providing oversight for SDGs, such as the committees of the Parliament and autonomous institutions, will see the benefit of the DEWA since the attainment of the SDGs requires efforts from the whole society.” DEWA will play a catalytic role in improving data accessibility for all who must make critical decisions daily by applying the principle of the Triple As (Agile, Anticipatory and Adaptive), she added.

She also urged the relevant institutions to take ownership of the applicable indicators and share data promptly so that availability and accessibility to information would continuously improve.

In addition to offering easy access to development progress and status through mobile apps (both android and IOS) via the DEWA portal, the platform aims to provide a common GIS interface platform for geospatial analysis and district, constituency, block, and sub-block data visualization.

Although such a dashboard is commonly known as a SDG Dashboard or SDG Tracker in many countries across the world, Bhutan has also integrated its GNH indicators and the key areas of the Five-Year Plan in addition to the SDGs.

Comprised of four pillars, good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, cultural preservation, and environmental conservation, GNH refers to a vision towards development that balances material and non-material values to achieve collective happiness. The term was coined in the 1970s by the fourth king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Bhutan’s 12th Five Year Plan aims to bring about better wellbeing for the 780,000 population of this South Asian country through the achievement of the 17 national key areas and the adoption of greater operationalization of the vision of GNH.

In addition to serving as a monitoring tool for all the development plans and programs of Bhutan, DEWA is expected to be catalytic in improving the country’s overall data ecosystem.