Thursday, September 29

Nepal and Green Economy

Nepal is a small landlocked mountainous country located between China to the north and India to the east, west and south, with a total land area of 147,181 square kilometers. The elevation of the country increases from about 60 meters in the south to 8848 meters in the north at the peak of Mt. Everest. 

According to preliminary result of the National Population Census 2011 released by Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) among the higher government officials, development partners and media, the population of Nepal reached 26,620,809 in the year 2011 which shows an increase of population at the rate of 1.4 percent per annum. According to the National Population Census 2001, the population growth rate of Nepal was 2.25 percent per annum.. GDP of Nepal at factor cost for the year 2001/02 is estimated at US$ 5446.4 million and annual per Capita GDP for the fiscal year is estimated at US$ 224 (recent). Nepal's urban population is expanding, thereby putting pressures on natural resources, especially in and around urban areas. Waste disposal and its associated health hazards are other serious concerns linked to the growing urban population.

Nepal is confronting adversity of climate change and towering food prices due to limited facility and resources to address these global problems. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, providing a livelihood for over 80 % of the population.

In Nepal, low-carbon, labor-intensive agriculture and community managed forestry are sustainable practices that have existed for decades which are components in greening the country. According to the UN report entitled "Why a Green Economy Matters for the Least Developed Countries" states that Nepal’s approach to community forestry management continues to generate employment and income from the sustainable harvesting of timber and non-timber forest products. Sustainable forest management approaches in the country have contributed to reverse a trend of decline in forest cover that occurred at the rate of 1.9 per cent per year during the 1990s. Nepal’s forests have witnessed an annual growth of 1.35 per cent over the period 2000 to 2005 thanks to community based approaches of forest conservation. 

Recently, three watersheds in Dolakha, Gorkha and Chitwan districts received a total sum of $95,000 under the first-ever Forest Carbon Trust Fund (FCTF) in Nepal. The project focuses on sequestering carbon through community-based forest management. The project financed by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) covers over 10,000 hectares of community managed forest and has an outreach to cover 16,000 households with over 89,000 forest dependent people.

There are a number of policy issues and gaps that need to be addressed to enable communities to receive benefits from carbon financing. While pilot initiatives are required to develop models of REDD at sub-national and local levels, several policy issues have to be addressed before a carbon financing mechanism can be initiated: clarifying carbon tenure and benefit sharing, creating or defining state agencies for regulating carbon financing mechanisms, recognizing and monitoring intermediaries (to verify, assess, quantify carbon stocks and offsets), and mechanisms for checking fraud and corruption. There are also likely to be implications for fiscal, tax and trade related policies, which need to be addressed.

Looking at these issues at home, and recognizing the specific Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) series being debated internationally, Nepal should not just rely on carbon focused financing but advocate a comprehensive reward package that supports policy, institutions, procedures and sustainable management of forests. Also, it is worthwhile to institute systems for the payment of environmental services instead of carbon services alone. Nepal has a real opportunity to lead other countries with strong community forestry and to advance such an agenda in the international negotiations.

                                    -------------A very short paper on Green Economy-------------