Miles to Go

Mar 12th, 2014 | By | Category: Capacity Development, Ecosystem Functions, Nepal

20589Republica: Nepal has adopted Sustainable Development Agenda for Nepal (SDAN), 2003. The agenda is developed with support from the UNDP and WWF. It is a major policy tool for all development plans, policies, and strategies. Specifically, the Sustainable Development Agenda for Nepal (2003), and the Sustainable Community Development Program (Nepal Capacity 21) guide periodic plans and strategies of Nepal. Although Nepal does not have clear national sustainable development strategy, these plans and policies are considered as the national sustainable development strategy principles of Nepal (UNDSD/DESA, 2009).

SDAN, 2003 has envisioned the over-arching goal of Sustainable Development (SD) in Nepal for 15 years (2016/17). It is a development process and mechanism that will help to reduce poverty and provide citizens and successive generations with not just basic means of livelihood but also the broadest of opportunities in the social, economic, political, cultural and ecological aspects of their lives. Indeed, it provides basic framework and guidelines to select and classify sustainable development indicators. Nepal aspires to improve quality of life and sustainability by promoting sustainable development practices in 15 years through the effective implementation of development programs and projects. It has targets for each indicator and objective, but there is no budget framework. However, community-based monitoring and evaluation was formed as part of all development projects to accelerate all formal policy making processes (DSD/DESA, 2009). The agenda has given the important role to the local people in policy formulation, project design and execution, monitoring, and evaluation.

The Interim Constitution, 2007, addresses social development through devolution, decentralization, gender equality, and social inclusion. It guarantees social justice and affirmative action for the marginalized and socially excluded groups. Nepal has legalized the management of the protected areas and national parks through National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (NPWCA), 1973 to manage and maintain the environment for sustainable development. In addition, Nepal started the community forestry system in the late 1970s. It has helped to increase the forest-covered area in last 25 years. It has given space to local communities to participate in local decision-making process that has promoted local ownership in forest management.

Nepal’s status paper on sustainable development has identified the importance of assimilation of Istanbul Program of Action for LDCs in the global sustainable development agenda. Further, it has traced out the use of natural resources for economic gains by ensuring its benefits to the local people. It has highlighted the importance of “mix of democratic and inclusive models such as cooperatives, collective and community-based and driven ventures, and public-private enterprises to reduce income inequality and poverty” (NPC, 2011). The government and development partners have conducted several studies and assessments on sustainable development in Nepal. The Nepal Capacity Self-Assessment Report and Action Plan (2008) highlight the capacity development needs for effectively implementing the Rio commitment.

Similarly, the Gender and Social Exclusion Assessment (GSEA) was a landmark document in terms of data, analysis, and information on gender and social inclusion. Nepal’s environmental policies and programs have generally aimed at making a good match between economic development and conservation (NPC, 2011). The effective implementation of such legislative measures and innovative initiatives are most necessary to protect environment and promote sustainable development. Nepal has established National Council for the Conservation of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCCNCR, 1989), the Environment Protection Council (EPC, 1992), National Commission on Sustainable Development (NCSD, 2002), and Climate Change Council (CCC, 2009) to institutionalize national and international environmental protection and sustainable development practices.

The long-term and short-term development plans and policies clearly indicate the government’s initiation to promote sustainable development and cope with increasing problems of environmental degradation, climate change, and global warming in Nepal. However, international standings of Nepal in different indicators are not satisfactory. In the Human Development Report (HDR) 2013, Nepal is ranked 157th out of 187 countries with HDI value 0.463, placing Nepal below the South Asian regional average of 0.558. Nepal did, however, the fastest progress with an outstanding absolute decrease in Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) fell from 0.350 to 0.217—about 0.027 per year—and the incidence (H) fell from 65 percent to 44 percent in a five-year period (2006-2011). In the MPI 2013, Nepal is ranked 80th out of 114 countries with MPI value 0.217. Similarly, the “Dashboard of Sustainability”, 2-12 showed that Nepal is ranked 146th on overall ranking of Eight goals with MDGs index 555. The poor progress in human development was recorded mainly because of lack of policy coherence to increase the people’s participation and their contribution in development process. Rankings in Living Planet Report, 2013 and Happy Planet Index (HPI), 2012 are also not encouraging.

“Nepal has made good progress in terms of poverty reduction and towards achieving most of the MDGs” (NPC, 2011) but the environmental sustainability and social progress indicators remain in critical zone. The targets can be achieved from the constructive intervention of state through effective partnership and coordination with private sector. Therefore, it requires more commitments and policy cohesion among government, civil society, and the private sector on policy implementation. Further, it creates good balance between economic growth and environment for sustainability and quality of life.

The plan and policy documents are very comprehensive with standard targets guided by the concept of nexus among human, economy, and environment. However, the weak implementation mechanisms, ineffective monitoring and evaluation system became major hurdles to achieve desired targets. The human development progress indicators are not progressing satisfactorily. Development plans recorded poor performance because there is no rural-oriented structural reform. Further, ineffective employment and no income generating programs, regional imbalance in growth and development activities and unequal distribution of national economic benefits contribute to problems. The weak institutional set up for implementation and monitoring and evaluation of the planned projects and programs were major hurdles to achieve the targets.

The poor performance in the international indices shows that immediate actions and steps are necessary to overcome the persisting loopholes in managing the government and international resources in Nepal. Not only there is poor policy formulation and implementation but also lack of proper coordination mechanism among different stakeholders. Further, the public service delivery system is too lengthy and process-oriented rather than result-oriented. The government should improve policy coherence and implement targeted programs to overcome persisting geographical barriers, vicious circle of poverty, and higher dependency on agriculture and forestry to promote sustainable development practices and achieve the desired quality of life.

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