Kathmandu, December 4 The country has enormous strategic opportunities to achieve very rapid sustainable development in the coming 15 years, said world-renowned professor Jeffrey David Sachs, who is also special advisor to the United Nations Secretary General. Delivering his public lecture titled ‘Sustainable Development in an Uncertain World’ among state actors, development partners, diplomats, private sector representatives and academicians in Kathmandu that was organised by National Planning Commission (NPC) today, Sachs laid emphasis on harnessing hydroelectricity citing that hydroelectric power is a strategic asset which has the most potential to be sold across the region as a clean source of energy. “I would like to recommend Nepal to speed up works to harness hydroelectricity. A strategy to develop 10 to 20 gigawatt hydropower through good contracts and low cost financing needs to come soon into the national budget,” said Sachs, adding, “Nepal has potential of 40 gigawatt of power and at least 10 gigawatt of the potential needs to be harnessed in the next one-and-a-half decades. This will not only replace the import of petroleum products, expand industrial base, increase agriculture output, give quality life to the people through proper electrification in households but also supply clean energy to India, Bangladesh and other countries of the region.” Harnessing hydroelectricity is critical from the perspective of energy security and also to improve the quality of air because air is highly polluted due to excessive use of fossil fuels, according to Sachs. “Nepal also can convert to an all-electric transport system in the next 15 to 20 years by utilising the electricity generated over the period because the world is moving forward towards electric vehicles.” Another important opportunity for Nepal is its geographic location. The country can reap benefits through integration with the fastest growing economies of the world, that is China and India. “For a long time Nepal has had an amicable relationship with India and China and now the country needs to tap this to enhance its economy by being interconnected to these two economic powerhouses.” “I think, this is a stage of economic, communication, information and scientific integration, which is really important. Rail network from China and highway linkages with India open the door to be connected with the entire South Asia and East Asia regions,” he said. “There is tremendous opportunity of power-backed industries, infrastructure development and for this to materialise the country should reduce the red-tapism and other factors hindering investment.” Among the 17 goals for sustainable development adopted by the 193 United Nations member countries, Nepal is concerned with 14, namely ending poverty, zero hunger, health care to all, quality education, gender equality, water and sanitation, electrification (clean energy), decent works, quality infrastructure, sustainable cities, sustainable production, climate resilience, forest protection and efficient government. Sachs further highlighted that global cooperation is essential to achieve the goals.