Nepal has held the International Conference of Mountain Countries on Climate Change. Now it needs to move ahead with an aim to incorporate the agenda of Mountain Countries in UNFCCC negotiations. Although there is still a long way to go in forming a powerful alliance of mountain countries, the resolution adopted by them have provided some ways to go about it. In the context of the forthcoming international gathering in Rio, Brazil, it will be very significant for the country like Nepal to come up with a clear vision. Since the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janerio in 1992, the international community has made a number of commitments and created many institutions to govern the commitments made in international, regional, national and local levels. Most of these commitments were translated into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Despite all these, Nepal has been unable to implement all of them. Along with other international communities, Nepal has also been facing problems like food security, energy crisis, climate change and threat to natural resources. Along with Nepal, the international community as a whole has been passing through a very critical time. In this context, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) or the Rio+20 is going to be very significant. The agenda of the Rio+20 includes securing renewed global commitment for sustainable development, assess the programs and gaps in the implementation of major summit commitments on sustainable development and address new and emerging challenges.
Nepal, as an active member of the Rio Summit of 1992, needs to play a role and the country has comparative advantages in developing sustainable agriculture, tourism, renewable energy, on- timber forest products, community forestry and bio-diversity conservation. As Nepal does not have an adequate financing to launch such projects, Nepal needs additional international financing, technology transfer and capacity building. Nepal has made a preparation for Rio+20 during my tenure as the vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission. A high level Rio committee was formed during my tenure. I also constituted a task force under the chairmanship of NPC vice-chairman. With support from UNDP, ICIMOD was supposed to provide technical data. It is a pride for all of us that Nepal has already prepared a Neal Status Paper to present at Rio+20.
Our National Status paper has already made it clear about Nepal’s expectations from Rio+20. Nepal’s expectations include renewed commitment of member states to preserving the Rio principles and fostering an implementable consensus for narrowing down the implementation gaps in the Rio declarations and other commitments, addressing new and emerging challenges fairly and equitably. Nepal has also made clear the need to address all three pillars of sustainable development with poverty alleviation in the center.
There is an immense potential for Nepal. Nepal’s submission to Rio+ 20, this national paper, has highlighted Nepal’s needs and priorities. Nepal’s progress and achievements in the areas of natural resources, management, renewable energy, health and education and poverty reduction. Nepal has comparative advantages in many areas. There are three important issues for Nepal. The first and important issue for Nepal will be to know how to go to green economy. Our quest will be how to develop Nepal’s existing economy into green economy. This needs a focus. We have decided to increase our forest coverage areas to 40 percent. This is good. However, for whom are we going to use these forest resources. If this forest is for the betterment of the people, we will need to encourage forest based enterprises. In this way people can maximize their benefits.
Nepal can benefit a lot from green economy as there will be less emission under the green economic development package. Nepal’s choice must cause less harm to the atmosphere, pollute less and ensure sustainable development. For instance, Nepal needs to promote hydropower to run metro trains and other trains. We can use fossil fuels as well as hydro to run the metro and other railways. Hydro electricity can generate clean energy with zero emission. Similarly, Nepal needs to develop its plans based on green economy. Instead of going for traditional economic model, Nepal’s concept paper is based on a new vision. At a time when there are lots of new green technologies available, the country’s policymakers will need to consult with UNEP to know the funding access. There is also the possibility to get a carbon credit in case Nepal goes for a green economy as Nepal sequestrates carbon from atmosphere due to our green based activities. For instance, an industrialized country requires a low carbon emission country to match. We need to get into the right economy. The sustainable development is another agenda for Rio + 20. Nepal has focused on three points: the first is the environmental aspect which is related to climate change issue. We also focus on how to fulfill the commitments and submissions made by Nepal in the international conventions. The third issue is how to take the adaptation and mitigation ahead. On the social side, inclusion is another important area. Social inclusion includes the context of including women, indigenous as well as geographical regions. Our whole thrust is on the economic agenda as we want be citizens of a prosperous country. Our thrust is now to increase our GDP through the cooperatives. In rural areas, we want to develop rural sector and we want to increase GDP in urban sector through the processing plants. If we establish the processing centers at Nepalgunj, we can develop herbal farming in Humla and Jumla. This way we can develop the economy. In the context of Nepal’s overall development, Rio+20 is very important.
Dr. Devkota is a former vice chairman of National Planning Commission. As told to New Spotlight