SNP’s Stewart Stevenson says an independent Scotland would be similar to Bhutan
ENVIRONMENT minister Stewart Stevenson has said an independent Scotland would have many similarities with Bhutan - one of the world’s least developed countries.
Mr Stevenson said Bhutan, a small country in a currency union with India, exports renewable energy there and even wears the kilt.
He said its international influence is greatly enhanced by the fact it is an independent country.
The United Nations describes Bhutan as one of the world’s least developed countries, technologically backward, dependent on India’s financial assistance with an uncertain political climate that hampers foreign investment.
Mr Stevenson said the world no longer needs to rely on the traditional leaders of opinion such as the European Union. Scotland is therefore building partnerships with the similarly impoverished states of Malawi and the Maldives.
He made the comparisons at Holyrood this morning during a statement on his attendance at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as the Rio+20 Earth Summit.
“One of the people that I met was the ambassador to the UN of the country of Bhutan,” he said.
“Strangely, they are a small country with a big neighbour who supply a large proportion of renewable energy to that big neighbour. They are in a currency union. They have a whole range of analogues. They even wear the kilt, as we do.
“So we can look elsewhere but, of course, their action and their ability to influence others is greatly enhanced by the fact that they are an independent country.”
Green MSP Alison Johnstone asked if he would have signed the “timid” Rio+20 agreement if he was sitting at the top table.
Mr Stevenson agreed that it was “timid” but said “getting the nations and their senior representatives talking about real action was not a bad outcome”.
He said: “The Brazilian text and leadership enabled heads of delegation and ministers to begin to address what each country and the world must now do, and what resources might be available in order to implement the programme and build towards a complete post-2015 framework.
“The world no longer needs to rely upon the traditional leaders of opinion. Although the role of the EU and its member states continues to be important, we can now look wider for sources of progress, and that is something that we are working on, building partnerships and colleagues in Malawi and the Maldives, among others, as well as continuing to work with our European partners.”
Bhutan, Malawi and the Maldives receive support from the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).
It describes Bhutan’s economy as “one of the world’s smallest and least developed” which is “closely aligned with India’s through strong trade and monetary links and dependence on India’s financial assistance”.
The UN-OHRLLS Bhutan profile states: “The industrial sector is technologically backward, with most production of the cottage industry type.
“Complicated controls and uncertain policies in areas such as industrial licensing, trade, labour, and finance continue to hamper foreign investment.
“Hydropower exports to India have boosted Bhutan’s overall growth. New hydropower projects will be the driving force behind Bhutan’s ability to create employment and sustain growth in the coming years.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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