Nepal seeks easier access to funds, technology to attain SDGs

Kathmandu, March 31

Nepal has started advocating for easier access to funds and technology at international forums, as it gears up to roll out various programmes and projects to attain Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We know it is a country’s responsibility to attract investment and conduct other research and development works required to meet these goals. But as per the concept of shared responsibility in meeting SDGs, it is also the responsibility of developed nations to assist countries like Nepal to gain access to funds and technology,” Vice Chairman of National Planning Commission, Yubaraj Khatiwada, told a press meet organised to launch preliminary national report on SDGs. “We’ve already started advocating for these issues in international forums.”

Although international organisations, like the United Nations (UN), which launched the SDGs, have acknowledged the fact that developed nations must help developing and least developed countries in overcoming development hurdles, the rich nations have not always extended cooperation in this regard.

“Lately, developed countries have reduced aid for least developed countries, while copyright and patent issues have made it utterly difficult for countries like Nepal to gain access to technologies available in the developed nations,” Khatiwada said. “This calls for better coordination and cooperation between least developed and developed countries, so that all the SDGs can be met within the deadline.”

SDGs — a follow-up on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expired at end of 2015 — are a set of 17 goals and 169 targets approved by the UN.

These goals primarily aim to end all forms of poverty and hunger from the world. They also intend to promote well-being of everyone, sustainable industrialisation, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all. Some other goals include reducing inequality within and among countries; making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns; and taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

These goals, which have to be achieved by 2030, have potential to change the face of the country as they focus on bridging inequality of all forms, raising access to basic public services, ensuring access to justice and sustainable economic development. But meeting these goals is also a costly affair.

“At present, we don’t know how much needs to be spent to meet the SDGs. So, we have started working with the UN to prepare a financial strategy, which will explain our financial needs. The strategy will also give us an idea on spending that the government needs to make and financial resources that need to be mobilised from abroad,” Khatiwada said.

Although Nepal has always made efforts to meet numerical targets set by international organisations, like the UN, it has not been able to make significant progress in all these years.

For instance, Nepal has met many of the Millennium Development Goals related to education, with primary school enrolment ratio touching 96 per cent. But it is not known whether students attending these schools are getting quality education, which is a prerequisite for getting better jobs with higher pays.

This is the same with healthcare services.

“We must now focus on delivering quality education and health services,” Khatiwada said. “But for this, interventions made at central level won’t be enough because initiatives also need to be taken at local level.”