Learn how the World Bank Group is helping countries with COVID-19 (coronavirus). Find Out

Skip to Main Navigation

Bhutan-Nepal Human Capital Forum

June 5-6, 2019

Kathmandu, Nepal


Nabin Baral/World Bank

The Bhutan-Nepal Human Capital Forum, hosted by the Government of Nepal and the World Bank, has two interrelated objectives.

The first is to attract the attention of high-level policy makers, civil society, the private sector and the society at large and promote action to improving the level and quality of public spending in human capital.

The second aim is to bring various stakeholders in Nepal together for the beginning of a process to identify common national priorities for human capital investment which may be articulated in a national action plan, and which could inform future World Bank engagement.

The first day of the Forum will be conducted as a joint session between Nepal and Bhutan. Sessions will include taking a government approach for coordinated action; investing in early years of life; the changing nature of jobs; quality of services; measurement and data for progress; resource mobilization; and water supply and sanitation.  

The second day will have parallel sessions on Bhutan specific technical panels and Nepal specific technical panels. This day will also witness the launch of the Nepal Development Update, with a Special Section on Human Capital Development in Nepal. 

  • What is the Human Capital Project?

    The Human Capital Project (HCP) is the World Bank Group’s effort to help countries to prioritize more and better investments in people for greater equity and growth. As human capital is central to the WBG’s efforts to end extreme poverty by 2030, the HCP aims to: (i) develop a new Human Capital Index; (ii) launching a program to strengthen research and measurement as a public good; and (iii) supporting countries as they tackle the worst barriers to human capital.  Announced in 2017, the HCP project is underway, and more than 60 countries are already working with the WBG on strategic approached to transform their human capital outcomes. The HCP is expected to create the political space for national leaders to prioritize transformational human capital investment. The objective is rapid progress toward a world in which all children arrive in school well-nourished and ready to learn; can expect to attain real learning in the classroom; and are able to enter the job market as healthy, skilled, and productive adults. Read more here.

    Why is Investing in Human Capital essential for Nepal’s Economic Potential?

    In terms of the Human Capital Index (HCI), Nepal has a score of 0.49. This means that a child born in Nepal today will be 49% as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health. However, Nepal has the potential to double its GDP per capita in the long run if it achieves the benchmarks of complete education and full health. Differences in human capital have large implications for the productivity of the next generation of workers. Gaps in the expected productivity of future workers add up to large shortfalls in future income and future growth potential in the long run. In Nepal, if current health and education outcomes for new generations of children remain the same, the entire future workforce will have this same productivity gap, and the country’s per capita income will also be almost half of what it could be if its citizens enjoyed complete education and full health.


  • Inaugural Session

    Voices from the Forum

    Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Manager for Nepal: We are gathered with the common goal to invest in people and in their early years so they can realize their full potential. This is of course no easy task requiring true vision and leadership and hard policy and financing decisions. People are the true capital that if empowered creates more infrastructure and charts new pathways to growth.

    Hans Timmer, Chief Economist, South Asia Region, World Bank: When Nepal and Bhutan are further developing the education system, the two countries might want to think about the importance of diversification and experimentation in education, the importance of a level playing field to ensure equality of opportunity for kids to access higher quality education, and the importance of nation-wide quality control.

    Nim Dorji, Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Bhutan: The Royal Government of Bhutan is fully committed in investing in human capital as the development paradigm is based on the pursuit of Gross National Happiness. Under the 12th five year plan the government is fully committed in investing in health, education, development of skills and job creation to narrow the income gap. Bhutan believes that investing in people is the right thing to do.

    Honorable Finance Minister, Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada: Human capital is the central driver of sustainable growth and the foundation of future competitiveness. The role of policy makers is to ensure balance between investment in human capital and the creation of opportunities for them to engage in on the economic side. Forums like this must also educate our political perspective that we need to look at the longer term perspective which is critical for sustainable development.

    Video messages from the World Bank’s Annette Dixon, Vice President-Human Development and Hart Schafer, Vice President-South Asia Region, and Ani Choying Drolma, UNICEF Nepal National Ambassador underscore the need to make investments in the health, education and learning of the people Nepal and Bhutan a priority.

    Watch the session here.

    Joint Sessions

    1. Whole of Government: The Story Behind the Success

    This session discussed the Whole-of-Government (WGA) Approach of the Human Capital Project drawing in examples from countries on successes and challenges in improving human capital outcomes. The session recommended that coordination is key to the success of the WGA approach to accelerate the accumulation of human capital.

    Moderator: Ms. Lynne Sherburne-Benz, Director, World Bank

    Presenter: Mr. Zelalem Debebe, Economist, Human Development Practice Group, World Bank

    Panelists: Mr. Nim Dorji, Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Bhutan; Dr. Usha Jha, Honorable Member, National Planning Commission; Mr. Abdoulaye Ka, National Coordinator, National Nutrition Coordination Committee, Senegal; Prof. Le Anh Vinh, Vice Director General, The Vietnam Institute of Educational Sciences

    Watch the session here.


    2. Investing in Early Years: Narrowing the Gap Early

    The session focused on the importance of the early years in a child’s life in building human capital that will drive economic growth in countries through examples from South Asian countries including Bhutan, Nepal and India. The first 1,000 days are a critical period for the development of a child and investment in this window of primary importance.

    Moderator: Ms. E. Gail Richardson, Health, Nutrition and Population Practice Manager for South Asia Region, World Bank

    Lightening Talks: Ms. Meera Shekar, Global Lead for Nutrition, Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice, World Bank; Mr. Abdoulaye Ka, National Coordinator, National Nutrition Coordination Committee, Senegal

    Panelists: Ms. Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director; Dr. Kiran Rupakhetee, Joint Secretary, National Planning Commission, Nepal

    Watch the session here.


    3. Changing Nature of Jobs

    The session discussed the findings of the new WDR 2019 “The Changing Nature of Work” and the role of technology as relevant to Bhutan and Nepal. The shift from learning facts to critical thinking and the link between learning and work were highlighted in the discussions with country examples from Bhutan and Nepal identifying strategies to increase job opportunities and productivity of the population.

    Moderator: Mr. Hans Timmer, Chief Economist for the South Asia Region, World Bank

    Lightning Talks: Ms. Roberta Gatti, Chief Economist for the Human Development Group of Practices, World Bank

    Discussants: Mr. Lok Nath Bhusal, Under Secretary, Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, Nepal; Mr. Sherab Tenzin, Director General, Department of Employment and Human Resources, Ministry of Labor and Human Resource, Bhutan; Mr. Tenzing Yonten, Executive Member, Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bhutan

    Watch the session here.


    4. Quality of Services

    This session discussed the prevalence and impact of poor quality of service delivery across the health and education sector. It will then go onto explore the evidence base of ‘what works’ in improving quality especially in low resource setting. More specifically it will interrogate the decisions regarding investments that focus building individual capacities of frontline workers as against more systematic investments such as regulation and accreditation.

    Moderator: Mr. Cristian Aedo, Education Global Practice Manager for South Asia Region, World Bank

    Lightning Talks: Ms. Gail Richardson, Health, Nutrition and Population Practice Manger for South Asia Region, World Bank; Mr. Halsey Rogers, Lead Economist, Education Global Practice, World Bank; Prof. Le Anh Vinh, Vice Director General, The Vietnam Institute of Educational Sciences, Vietnam

    Discussants: Mr. Karma Yeshey, Secretary, Ministry of Education, Bhutan; Mr. Khaga Raj Baral, Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science &Technology, Nepal; Dr. Pushpa Chaudhary, Secretary Ministry of Health & Population, Nepal; Mr. Tashi Penjor, Chief Planning Officer, Ministry of Health, Bhutan

    Watch the session here.


    5. Measurement and Data for Progress 

    This session highlighted the role of data science analytics and tech innovations in evidence-based decision making and effective targeting and delivery of services. Country examples in education, health and nutrition, and disaster management from Bhutan, Nepal and India were shared at the session, with suggestions for data-driven strategies for servicing priority clients.

    Moderator: Ms. Roberta Gatti, Chief Economist for the Human Development Practice Group, World Bank

    Presenters: Mr. David Wilson, Program Director, Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice; Mr. Halsey Rogers, Lead Economist, Education Global Practice

    Watch the session here.


    6. Resource Mobilization and Budgeting for Human Capital Development

    The session looked at newer ways to formulate public sector budgets that emphasize societal wellbeing and invest in human capital, particularly targeting disadvantaged groups and early childhood education. The session discussed the linkage of human capital and budgets in Bhutan and Nepal and the contribution of the private sector in human capital investment.

    Moderator: Mr. Christian Eigen-Zucchi, Program Leader for Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, World Bank

    Presenters: Mr. Vinaya Swaroop, Economic Advisor, Development Effectiveness Unit of the Africa Region, World Bank; Mr. Kirk David Schmidt, Governance Specialist, World Bank

    Discussants: Mr. Nim Dorji, Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Bhutan; Mr Shreekrishna Nepal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Nepal

    Watch the session here.


    7. Water and Sanitation

    The session explored the impacts of inadequate access and quality of water supply and sanitation on human capital outcomes in Nepal and Bhutan. The session identified a number of practical entry points to link water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), and broader integrated water resources management and water security, in a multi-sector approach to human capital development.

    Moderator: Mr. Sanjay Srivastava, Program Leader, Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, World Bank

    Keynote Speech: Honorable Minister Ms. Bina Magar, Ministry of Water Supply, Nepal

    Presenter: Mr. Richard Damania, Senior Advisor Water Global Practice, World Bank; Ms. Therese Dooley, Regional Wash Advisor, UNICEF

    Watch the session here.