Kathmandu, February 22
A delegation of Swedish parliamentarians today, after a four-day visit to Nepal, commended the country for its progress in promoting inclusion and gender equality as well as building resilience, improving livelihoods and the work on post-earthquake recovery.
The objective of the visit to Nepal was to monitor the results achieved by UNDP in implementing projects contributing to the country’s development.
The delegates visited several UNDP projects implemented in partnership with local governments, civil society organisations and communities in Kaski and Gorkha, and interacted with provincial assembly members to exchange experiences related to parliamentary democracy. The parliamentarians also met with high-ranking government officials and chiefs of the constitutional bodies as per the statement issued by UNDP in Nepal.
“To transform Sweden from one of the poorest countries in Europe 100 years ago when 25 per cent of the population emigrated due to poverty, to where we are today, we invested heavily in strong institutions as well as in inclusive social welfare reforms. There is a need to invest in opportunities for youth and women and when I spoke to the people in the communities we met, I feel hopeful for the future of the country,” the statement quoted Marie-Louise Rönnmark from the Social Democratic Party, the ruling party, as saying.
“Building a healthy democracy is an on-going process that one has to work on every single day, in Sweden as well as in Nepal. Accountability, transparency, an open and growing economy and an independent judiciary as well as free media are key elements for success. Here we can learn from each other. You are at a new starting point in Nepal with a new constitution and we look forward to following the good progress of the country,” says Kerstin Lundgren from the Green Liberal party, currently in opposition.
Sweden is one of the few countries in the world spending as much as one per cent of gross national income (GNI) on official development assistance (ODA), exceeding the official 0.7 per cent OECD target. In 2018, the Swedish government will be contributing $5.4 billion for ODA, focusing on gender equality, climate change/climate resilience and peace building as well as human rights and democracy as key priority areas.
Sweden is one of UNDP’s top core donors. In 2017, Sweden was third largest core donor to UNDP and in 2018 UNDP will receive around $78 million from Swedish government for projects across the globe. The delegates, who observed on-going reconstruction and recovery works in Gorkha, appreciated the progress made so far while at the same time underscoring need for continued support.
Sweden had pledged $10 million for humanitarian support to quake victims of Nepal through UNDP.
Shedding light on importance of visit, Renaud Meyer, country director of UNDP in Nepal, said, “Sweden is among the top five core contributors to UNDP. The taxpayers’ money they provide generously to UNDP is used all over the world, including here in Nepal. It is important that we also show the parliamentarians, who are responsible to their constituencies, the results that we produce in the field.”
The visiting delegation included six parliamentarians representing different political parties from both the ruling and opposition parties namely, Rönnmark, Lundgren, Emma Nohrén, Margareta Cederfeldt, Markus Wiechel and Tina Acketoft.
A version of this article appears in print on February 23, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.