As for the realization of SDGs, there are a number of big ifs and buts which have to be resolved to achieve them
Moving ahead with goals and targets is certainly better than moving ahead without them. It is sixty years since Nepal embarked on the road of planned development. So far we have had thirteen of them. The results have shown slow progress. The country is still a least developed country (LDC). Along the way, we have also had goals and targets and priorities made for us by international organizations. And we have also embraced them. But the net result is rather low given the level of investment, efforts and other resources expended and the decades that have passed. In the process, we have also just passed the phase of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set for us by the United Nations with the end of 2015. Now upon us is another set of seventeen fifteen-year goals and 169 targets called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), being a follow-up on the MDGs.
As the name itself indicates, the comprehensive and ambitious development package stresses the sustainability of development in all areas. SDGs, for example, aim to eradicate poverty and hunger from the world by 2030 whereas Nepal’s present target is to reduce it to five percent by that time. The goals and targets cover virtually all the economic and social parameters that a country may wish to improve. These cover such areas as economic growth, employment, consumption, production, climate change, basic public services, inequalities within and between nations, agriculture, industry, education, and health. The intentions behind these goals and targets are indeed noble. As for the realization of SDGs, there are a number of big ifs and buts which have to be resolved to achieve them. Is such a comprehensive and sweeping package suitable for every country for which it is meant? Their levels of development and their social, cultural, economic and technological and other facts differ widely. Whether the same goals and targets for all of them to achieve are realistic and sensible or not is a big question to be debated.
A national report on SDGs, prepared by the National Planning Commission, points out the great challenges Nepal will have to overcome on the way. It sees the necessity of unprecedented national effort and international cooperation if the SDGs are to be achieved. For a country which has been fighting hard to attain even moderate goals and targets in development for the past six decades, it becomes a tall order to marshal huge national effort and huge international assistance for this purpose. The SDGs are not without a degree of overlap and the goals and targets themselves are interdependent, and a failure in one leads to a failure in another sector too. As the report indicates, the data gap will have to be bridged for goals, stressing the need to conduct a number of surveys in the coming years. There is also an important question that has to be answered: whether the government will move forward to execute the SDGs without taking into account our own national and local factors, their strengths and shortcomings, or we will not make and implement our own development plan with its own goals, priorities, objectives, projects and programmes and targets based on our peculiar conditions.
Junk vehicles in the premises of Singha Durbar have become an eyesore. More than 200 cars, vans and jeeps are lying there unused. Some of the expensive vehicles have not even been used but can no longer be used without repairs which would entail a lot of money. Some of the vehicles could be brought into running condition. Mismanagement should be blamed for this plight. These vehicles along with unneeded furniture need to be auctioned off as soon as possible.
Considering that foreign dignitaries usually go to Singha Durbar to sign various agreements, we should do all we can to keep this place clean as they give the country a bad image. Meanwhile, those who are responsible for buying the vehicles that were not brought to use need to be punished. The vehicles have been bought with the money from the tax payers. That the funds are being misused is a matter of great concern that ought to be dealt with. Otherwise Singha Durbar will resemble a ‘scrap house’. There are laws in the country to address them but they have not been enforced as they ought to have been.
A version of this article appears in print on February 15, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.