A three day meet of one hundred sixty Policy Makers and Environmental Practitioners began in Kathmandu on June 18. The aim of the program is to boost sustainable development across Asia.
Under SWITCH-Asia Program the European Union is supporting Asian countries by promoting Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) practices to fulfill the increasing demand for goods and services. The SWITCH-Asia Program was launched in 2007, and it is the single largest EU-funded regional program to support the implementation and scaling-up of SCP practices in Asia. It aims to contribute towards sustainable growth and poverty reduction. The program provides funding opportunities of €150 million over the period 2007-2013. 64 SWITCH-Asia projects across Asia have been funded to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, introduce cleaner production technologies, and establish green procurement processes or eco-labels. The Program has an innovative three support components: grant projects, Network Facility and Policy Support Component.
SWITCH-Asia program promotes a wide variety of good practices to help to save material and add value to products and services. It promotes less polluting technologies, healthy products and services that can earn consumers’ trust and develop responsible corporate practices.
Nepal has been a key focus of the SWITCH-Asia program. Presently, there are four on-going projects in the country: 1. Lead paint elimination (chemical sector, cleaner production); 2. Sustainable and efficient industrial development (environmental management systems); 3. Vertical shaft brick kiln and SCP (sustainable construction practices); and 4. Green homes: promoting sustainable housing in Nepal. Nowadays, the total funding of the EU to these projects is EUR 6.2 Million and new projects are under evaluation by the EU.
Addressing the opening session of the networking event, Ambassador Alexander Spachis, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Nepal, said that the EU had always been at the forefront to tackle the problems related to excessive energy consumption, environmental degradation, and finally impacts of climate change.
Ambassador Spachis added that the SWITCH-Asia Program is one of the most successful initiatives undertaken by the EU to promote sustainable production and consumption in Asia.
Speaking at the function, Umakanta JHA, Minister for Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Irrigation said, "We all need to act as a united force to combat the problems associated with energy use, environmental degradation and finally climate change impacts as it is a common problem."
Keshab Prasad Bhattarai, Secretary of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment said that his Ministry has always been committed to make a switch to a sustainable green economy. It will therefore look closely into the projects implemented in Nepal and will make the necessary policy level interventions in order to improve the environment.
The major objective of the Networking Event will be presenting the state of play of the program. Project experts from 10 European countries and 17 Asian ones will provide insights on technical implementation, on the projects' functioning, and on their impacts. The event will also facilitate exchanging views and experiences among SWITCH-Asia projects regarding effective replication of SCP, and fostering synergies with policy-makers and other relevant stakeholders engaged in SCP.