ADDRESS BY DASHO TSHERING TOBGAY PRIME MINISTER ROYAL GOVERNMENT OF BHUTAN BRICS-BIMSTEC OUTREACH SUMMIT 16TH OCTOBER 2016 GOA, INDIA

‘BRICS-BIMSTEC: A Partnership in Opportunities’

Shri Narendra Modi-ji, Hon. Prime Minister of India & Chairman of the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit,

Distinguished Heads of State and Government,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the honour to convey the warm greetings of His Majesty The King and the people of Bhutan, to this august gathering.

I thank Prime Minister Modi for the invitation extended to Bhutan to participate in this Summit, and for the warm reception and gracious hospitality extended to me and my delegation.

Mr. Chairman,

I commend you, for this initiative to bring together the leaders of BRICS and BIMSTEC, at this Outreach Summit. As a common link between our two groupings, India has created an excellent platform for meaningful engagement and collaboration between BRICS and BIMSTEC. It is a reflection of India’s efforts to take along its BIMSTEC partners, and allow them to also ride on the wave of prosperity of BRICS.

Mr. Chairman,

BIMSTEC turns 20 next year. In these two decades, our collective efforts have yielded positive outcomes in the political, economic, social and cultural spheres. Yet, with its immense human and natural resources, and rapidly growing economies, its full potential remains untapped. Therefore, I believe that this outreach Summit can give BIMSTEC, the much-needed momentum, to make it an effective and well-integrated regional group, successfully linking not just South with South-East Asia, but now with BRICS as well.

Together, BRICS and BIMSTEC are home to approximately half of humanity and account for 30% of global GDP. BRICS represents all geographical regions, while BIMSTEC represents a fast growing dynamic region. This affords tremendous opportunities for collaboration in many areas. The possible synergies of our two groups are endless and have the potential and capacity to positively impact the world.

Mr. Chairman,

We meet at a time defined by breakthrough agreements. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, embody the collective hopes of humankind for a more secure, happy and prosperous world.

However, while nations and regions have witnessed remarkable progress, we continue to face many serious challenges.

Terrorism remains a grave threat to global peace, security and stability. Most countries gathered here have not been spared by this scourge. And we are here at a time when our host, India, has over the past several months suffered frequent terrorist attacks. Bhutan strongly condemns these terror attacks. Bhutan stands in solidarity with India and all like-minded countries in the fight against terrorism.

BIMSTEC is working towards early ratification of the ‘Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking’. We should examine how this Convention, can leverage on the efforts of BRICS members, to strengthen our common fight against terrorism, through exchange of best practices, information and knowledge sharing.

Along with terrorism, another war continues to rage on. It is the war against poverty!

It is an anomaly, that while our two groups account for 30% of global GDP, we also house approximately half of the world’s poor. It is in light of this that the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals is crucial for both our groups, as well as for the world at large.

The rapid and impressive economic growth of India and China in the past two decades, has contributed to halving global poverty. Similar rates of growth will be required by both BRICS as well as by BIMSTEC members, if global poverty is to be further reduced.

However, the rest of the world cannot just rely on the larger economies like India and China to ensure the success of the SDGs. Every country must play its part.

For Bhutan, the principles and objectives of the 2030 SDG Agenda are consistent with Bhutan’s national development framework of Gross National Happiness. Guided by this timeless vision propounded by our Kings, we have always ensured that peace, happiness and wellbeing of our people remain at the core of all our endeavours. We are, therefore, confident that we will achieve the SDGs before the deadline of 2030.

Mr. Chairman,

Climate change is real. It is a global problem and its effects transcend national borders. Despite having contributed the least to climate change, Bhutan has not been spared from adverse impacts of extreme weather patterns and rising global temperatures.

In July this year, we suffered extensive destruction and damage to property and infrastructure, caused by unprecedented flash floods. At the same time, our glaciers are melting at an alarming pace, making us vulnerable to Glacial Lake Outburst Floods, that will also adversely affect lower riparian countries.

In this context, we look forward to the entry into force of the Paris Agreement this November, and commend the leadership shown by India, China and Brazil as well as by Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand to ratify the Paris Agreement.

Bhutan committed to remain carbon neutral way back in 2010 in Copenhagen, but in reality, we are carbon negative.

In addition, Bhutan’s partnership with India in hydropower, is perhaps the world’s only transnational intiative to reduce carbon emissions. Under this mutually beneficial partnership, we currently offset about 6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in India each year. Bhutan and India are currently collaborating to generate 10,000 megawatts of hydropower, and on completion of these projects, our two countries will be offsetting another 37 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the region every year. This clearly demonstrates that countries can work together to address Climate Change.

Mr. Chairman,

The BRICS countries have emerged as the key drivers of global growth. BRICS can inspire and motivate BIMSTEC, and other regional and sub-regional groups, to become more integrated and effective. This Summit initiated by Prime Minister Modi is a step in the right direction, and provides an excellent starting point to explore opportunities for partnership between BRICS and BIMSTEC. I am confident that this will benefit not just our individual countries or regions, but also contribute to global wellbeing.

Thank You and Tashi Delek!

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