Purushottam Ghimire, joint secretary at the National Planning Commission, is currently the project coordinator and focal person of UNDESA. As the date for Rio+20 is coming closer, Ghimire spoke to New Spotlight on various issues regarding Nepal’s preparation. Excerpts:
How do you evaluate Nepal’s preparation for Rio+20 conference?
The forthcoming Rio conference, which is going to take place in Brazilian city of Rio de Jenerio between June 20 and 22, will review the last two decades of work towards sustainable development. One of the important aspects of the Rio+ Conference is that it is going to take place in a city where the heads of states and governments from around the world expressed their commitment to sustainable development two decades ago. This is the second conference on sustainable development after 2002. One of the major themes of this conference is to renew the political commitment, promotion of green economy and institutional framework. Heads of states and governments from 120 countries have already sent their consent to take part. More than 50,000 people will congregate from various parts of the world.
What discussions have taken place in the recently concluded meetings?
Discussions have already been held in at the local and international levels. And recently a co-chair meeting was held in New York in May. Looking at the current level of discussions, I cannot say right now what kinds of papers will be presented. There are still some confusions about these aspects.. Particularly in the area of green economy, countries like Nepal need clear visions. We have yet to discuss how the green economy will contribute development. Similarly, how to get resources in promoting green economy is also another important component of the process.
What are the themes of the conference?
Overall, the theme of green economy is related to sustainable development. Our whole economy is based on sustainable development. In the context of green economy, Nepal is an agriculture-based country. That is the mainstay of livelihood. It is not difficult for us to promote green economy. It is not that green economy is only agriculture sector. Green economy itself means a sustainable development even if it is in the brown sector.
What is the status of developed countries?
Developed countries are now focusing on sustainable development goals. However, what sustainable goals are all about need to be clear. Debates on sustainable goals are likely in Rio. When we talk about sustainable goals, we need to be very cautious to see where we are in terms of our MDGs? Nepal has made tremendous progress in sustainable development goals and we are close to achieving some of these and we are still far away in terms of other remaining goals. There is a huge resource gap to meet the target of MDGs. Developed and developing countries are yet to have a consensus on whether to continue MDGs for another few years to replace them by sustainable development goals. As an LDCs chair, Nepal’s stand is that we want to see more clarity about Sustainable Development Goals, its indicators, outputs and resources. Nepal cannot leave MDGs without looking at all these aspects. We want to see sustainable development goals as a supplementary and complementary to MDGs. Various countries have yet to have a clear mandate on sustainable goals.
What is the stage of international negotiations at Rio?
International negotiations are now at a very slow process.Out of 422 paragraphs, there is a consensus on just 21 paras. The discussions are going on about the remaining 401 para. We held two weeks of discussions last month. Deliberations were extended for another week. The text for Rio is yet to be finalized. We cannot say what will be the status right now.
How is Nepal preparing the meet?
Our preparation is going on. We have constituted various committees. There is a steering committee under the chairmanship of vice-chair of the National Planning Commission; there is a task force committee under the chairmanship of secretary of NPC and technical committee. Nepal has already submitted its paper in September. Nepal has already prepared its status paper. Regarding the three principles of Rio like Rio political commitments, green economy and institutional framework, Nepal has already made its stands clear. We are in the process of preparing detailed strategies in the areas like water resources, agriculture, forest, biodiversity, climate change, environment and infrastructure. As the chair of LDCs, Nepal is raising not only Nepal’s issue but also the issues of LDCs, landlocked countries and mountainous countries. We are more concerned about mountainous countries. Although mountain countries have been facing their own challenges and are more vulnerable to climate change, developing countries are focusing their interest in small Island and ocean countries. LDCs and mountainous countries are yet to get the priority. Nepal is a landlocked, mountainous and LDC country and our solidarity is with similar countries.
How do you look at Nepal’s role in raising the LDCs issues?
Nepal is currently heading the LDCs. Despite the shortage of manpower and resources, Nepal’s UN based colleagues have been actively taking part in the meetings. Their coordination part is very effective. Delegates from LDCs are appreciating the leadership role played by Nepal’s UN representative. If Nepal’s mission gives adequate resources and institutional framework, Nepal will play a more effective role.