Partnering with the Private Sector for improved Municipal Service Delivery in Thimphu, Bhutan

Thimphu Municipality waste exhibition in Thimphu. Present in the picture are the Minister of Works and Human Settlement, Executive Secretary of Thimphu Tromde and Project Manager of PPP-ISWM. Photo credit: Diana Brandes, UNDP.

In 2008 the Thimphu Municipality, the capital of Bhutan, requested the support of UNDP to identify structural solutions for its service delivery constraints, especially in solid waste management. The resulting project focused on improving municipal service delivery through Public–Private Partnerships (PPP) modalities and an Integrated Sustainable Waste Management system (PPP-ISWM).

In Thimphu, solid waste management and related service delivery challenges top the list of issues faced by the Municipality. Achieving development that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable cannot be achieved by municipal governments alone. The scale, reach and financial leverage of the private sector make it a critical player for achieving sustainable development objectives. Public–Private Partnerships (PPP) are multi-stakeholder approaches that bring together partners from different sectors with strong interest in service delivery or sustainable development, for common public goods.


  • UNDP's pilot project in Thimphu Municipality focused on improving municipal service delivery through PPP modalities and an Integrated Sustainable Waste Management system (ISWM)
  • UNDP's advisory services covered a comprehensive scope of knowledge needed in developing a durable institutional framework and collaborative capacities across sectors
  • Municipality's partnership with citizens and actively promoting their responsibility for positive contribution were a critical success factor of the project
  • Lessons of the project has informed the scaling up of PPPSD to all local governments

UNDP used several tools and approaches to support Thimphu Municipality and the PPP-ISWM project implementation, which included investment in external professional facilitation and introduction of the Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) approach. The strong, proactive advisory services for the project team, as provided by UNDP on multiple fronts also proved essential in developing collaborative capacities through advice on policies, regulatory frameworks, contractual arrangements, and governance mechanisms for PPPs; strengthening institutional arrangements and leadership capacity; organizational development; fostering innovation; and facilitating knowledge sharing.

Within the new democratic institutions in 2011, Thimphu Municipality promoted the responsibility of citizens to positively contribute to improved service delivery and keeping the municipality clean. Creating partnerships with citizens to develop a sustainable SWM system and instilling the behaviour to prevent pollution of the municipality is a critical success factor of the project.

The pilot project has also generated lessons for the feasibility of the PPP modality for other municipal service delivery areas such as energy, water and sanitation to eventually inform nationwide scaling up of PPPSD to all local governments.


We see great promise in further developing partnerships with the private sector, civil society and service beneficiaries for municipal service delivery. It will not only increase the service coverage and make our services more effective and efficient, it will also allow us to structurally engage with citizens to understand their needs and to agree upon mutual responsibilities for results.” Kinlay Dorji, Mayor, Thimphu Municipality.


Related publication

Private Sector Collaboration in Sustainable Development: Experiences from Asia and the Pacific

Related link

WASTE, partner for PPP-ISWM