• Date: Aug 2014

His Excellency Lyonpo Namgay Dorji, Minister of Finance inaugurated the Green Public Procurement in Bhutan (GPP Bhutan) project on August 21, 2014. The official launch was attended by over 100 people representing government ministries, corporations, national and international NGOs, political parties, academia and businesses. In his keynote address, the Hon’ble Minister acknowledged that the establishment of the GPP Bhutan project in Bhutan is very timely and in line with the government policy directives on sustainable development and welcomed the project. He also mentioned the economic stimulus programme that has been set into motion by the government in hopes of making Bhutan self-sustainable, and he added that he hopes the GPP Bhutan project will complement the stimulus programme. The Hon’ble Minister thanked the European Union (EU) for the financial and technical support and congratulated the GPP Bhutan international and local project teams for the progress made so far.

The Project Manager of the Switch-Asia Programme of the EU Delegation to Bhutan and India Mrs Sarojini Kaul present at the launch said that Bhutan is a country rich in pristine environment and social culture and it is our duty to preserve it and that sustainable consumption and production was the way towards sustainability and growth. The delegation expressed the importance that the EU places on supporting green production and consumption and stressed the importance of such a project for Bhutan and the significant value it would provide to the government and the country through green public procurement.

Representing the business community, Dasho Ugen Tshechup Dorji, President of the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that cottage, small and medium industries in Bhutan could be supported and enhanced through green/sustainable production. He added that this would, however, require support from the government to boost demand for local products in order to achieve economies of scale.

The launch featured two panel discussions namely “GPP within the Green Growth Agenda – International Perspectives” and  “Implementing GPP – Opportunities and Challenges for Bhutan”.

In the first panel, it was pointed out that GPP is not starting from zero in Bhutan, that it has, in fact, been practiced in some ways but was not seen or considered from a “GPP perspective”. For example, SNV Bhutan has worked on Envionmentally-Friendly Road Construction, Bio-Engineering and Bio-Gas projects that could be considered a GPP practice. In addition, the very successful program of linking farmers with institutions has enabled farmers to sell around 1145 metric tonnes of vegetables (as of August 2, 2014) and earn Nu. 22.25 million since the project was launched (in 2011). It was pointed out that GPP ensures Inclusive Growth, Employment, job creation and skills for the future and has had a very positive impact across Europe. While various implementation challenges and concerns were raised, it was largely agreed that GPP would be beneficial for Bhutan in selected product categories that are feasible for Bhutan. The panelists for the session were: Ms. Genevieve Boyreau, Resident Representative, World Bank - Bhutan; Ms. Christina Raab, Team Leader, Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (Germany); and Mr. Binai Lama, Sector Leader for Agriculture, SNV Bhutan. The panel was moderated by Dr. Lam Dorji, Executive Director, Royal Society for Protection of Nature.

On the second panel, it was pointed out that Bhutan has very favourable legislation and policy for environment and socio-economic development under the overarchng philosophy of Gross National Happiness. However, many challenges were discussed such as: lack of professional capacity/expertise to implement GPP, lack of clear and supportive institutional framework, lack of incentives for market suppliers to produce, and the hard-to-change mindsets that is necessary for GPP to be successful. On a positive note, it was argued that by customizing the implementation of GPP to Bhutan, here are huge opportunities to figure out the priorities for industrial competitiveness in Bhutan, identity green industries, and configure the policy and market instruments in a way that can be both environmentally and socially sustainable and also economically beneficial. The panelists on the panel were: Dr. Ugyen Tshewang, Secretary, National Environment Commission Secretariat; Ms. Oshani Perera, Programme Leader, International Institute for Sustainable Development; Ms. Tashi Choden, Director, Secretariat for the New Development Paradigm; Mr. Karma Yonten, CEO, Greener Way; and Mr. Phub Tshering, Secretary General, Bhutan Chamber for Commerce and Industry. The panel was moderated by Dasho Neten Zangmo, Hon’ble Chairperson, Anti-Corruption Commission of Bhutan.

The event was an opportunity to understand Bhutan’s public procurement system and to discuss how it can best be configured to support Bhutan’s development philosophy of Gross National Happiness. A key question that was explored was how we can ensure value for money in the public sector while also prioritizing environmental stewardship and social equity when purchasing goods, services and infrastructure.

Read more media coverage about the event at:
http://www.thebhutanese.bt/green-public-procurement-in-bhutan/
http://www.bbs.bt/news/?p=43210

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