RIGSS Podcast | Episode 6

Up To Speed with UNDP Bhutan

-Azusa Kubota

Ms. Azusa Kubota is the Resident Representative of UNDP in Bhutan since March 2019. Prior to her appointment as the Resident Representative for Bhutan, she served as the Manager and Head of Office of UNDP in the Solomon Islands and the UN Joint Presence Manager for UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA and UNWOMEN.

She was also the Deputy Resident Representative (Programme and Operations) of UNDP Lao PDR and the Maldives. She was also with the UNDP Evaluation Office in New York, where she led country-level evaluations of UNDP's contribution in several countries as well as global thematic evaluations. In that function, she drafted guidance on programme management and evaluation for UNDP.

Prior to joining the Evaluation Office, Ms. Kubota worked for UNDP in Malawi and also NGOs in Africa as well as the International Law Institute in Washington DC where she was responsible for organizing training programmes for senior government officials in the areas of international law and economic development.

Ms. Kubota is from Japan. She has a Master's degree in International Affairs in Economic and Political Development from the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, New York, USA, and a Bachelor's degree from Smith College, Northampton, USA. She has spent one semester at Université; Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar, Dakar, Senegal and studied French at Middlebury College, Vermont, USA.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) remains one of Bhutan’s key development partners for almost 48 years since it first started its assistance program in Bhutan in 1973. Notwithstanding the challenges posed by the pandemic, the UNDP was quick to assess and evolve as necessitated by the situation and continues to forge a stout path ahead for a vibrant and resilient future.

In the sixth episode of the RIGSS Podcast, Ms. Azusa Kubota, the Resident Representative of UNDP for Bhutan talks about the emerging issues that have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and shares her thoughts on how Bhutan can navigate through such challenges to come out even stronger. Drawing from global experiences and knowledge, Ms. Kubota shares her perspective on how initial steps of innovation could be assimilated into our systems, particularly to enhance public sector service delivery, and how UNDP can work in close partnership with the Royal Government of Bhutan to that end. Some important highlights include addressing the knowing-doing gap, Bhutan's graduation from the Least Developed Countries (LDC) category in 2023, Bhutan's Human Development Index (HDI) ranking, building capabilities, and personal reflections on her destined tryst with Bhutan.

UNDP Bhutan has been actively engaging and complementing the efforts of the government and the people of Bhutan by strengthening the democratic discourse and integrating and aligning their measures and support with the successive Five-Year Plans of the government.

As the UNDP Bhutan remains firm in its commitment and action towards balanced social, economic and environmental sustainability by shifting the focus towards re-thinking economy and governance to tune in with the changing times, Bhutan remains ever more confident and optimistic of what can be achieved together, going forward.