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The 'successful failure' of the sustainable development agreement between the Netherlands and Bhutan


  • Chhewang Rinzin

    (Royal Institute of Management, Semtokha, Thimphu, Bhutan)

  • Debberah N. ten Velthuis

    (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)

  • Walter J. V. Vermeulen

    (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)


This article discusses the practice of implementing the Sustainability Treaty signed by Bhutan and the Netherlands in 1994. This unique treaty represents a new relationship between developed and developing countries, based upon the principles of reciprocity and equality. The operational aspects of this treaty and the impacts are addressed and analysed in this article. The analysis pays close attention to the implementation process in Bhutan and the Netherlands. The analysis includes a review of the policy documents, interviews and case studies of four projects. The core idea of the agreement was to deviate from the traditional form of cooperation by building a two-way path, promoting equity, reciprocity and participation through dialogue, but it never succeeded in achieving its goal due to differences in political ideology and socio-economic status and lack of shared vision. Yet, the analysis shows that the implementation has been a 'successful failure'. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Chhewang Rinzin & Debberah N. ten Velthuis & Walter J. V. Vermeulen, 2007. "The 'successful failure' of the sustainable development agreement between the Netherlands and Bhutan," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(6), pages 382-396.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:15:y:2007:i:6:p:382-396
    DOI: 10.1002/sd.324

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa, 1998. "Africa and the donor community: from conditionality to partnership," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(2), pages 219-225.
    2. Simon Maxwell & Roger Riddell, 1998. "Conditionality or contract: perspectives on partnership for development," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(2), pages 257-268.
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