Sustainable Development Goals and Nepal

Sustainable Development Goals and Nepal

There are a total of 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the UN. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 interconnected global goals. These are meant to make the future a better and more sustainable place for everyone. The UN General Assembly established the SDGs in 2015 AD to achieve them by 2030 AD. In this article, we will have a brief insight into some sustainable development goals and Nepal.

No poverty, and Nepal

The first of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is to eliminate or nullify all forms of poverty. The SDG-1, "No Poverty," suggests the following goals:

  • Eliminate extreme poverty for all people worldwide by 2030, which is currently defined as a person making less than $1.25 per day.
  • Reduce the percentage of men, women, and children of all ages living in poverty in all manifestations by at least 50% by 2030, as determined by national definitions.
  • Implement social protection systems and policies for all, including floors, at the national level, and by 2030, substantially all the poor and vulnerable will be covered.
  • By 2030, make sure that all men and women, especially the weak and poor, have equal access to economic resources, ownership of land and other forms of property, inheritance, and natural resources, as well as to financial services, including microfinance.
  • Develop the resilience of the underprivileged and those in vulnerable circumstances by 2030, and lower their exposure and susceptibility to extreme weather-related events and other economic, social, and environmental shocks and disasters.

Other goals in SDG-1 include: ensuring significant resource mobilization from a variety of sources, including through improved development cooperation, to give developing nations, especially least developed nations, adequate and predictable means to implement programs and policies to end poverty in all of its dimensions; and developing sound policy frameworks at the national, regional, and global levels.

Nepal's national defined poverty target for 2030 is less than 5%. Between 2015 and 2019, there has been remarkable progress in reducing poverty and increasing per capita income. Using an international standard for extreme poverty (US$ 1.25 per day), Nepal's national poverty rate was 21.6 percent in 2015 but dropped to 18.7 percent in 2019. Also, while Nepal's poverty rate was estimated to be 36% in 2015, it dropped to 15% in 2019.

The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) (external link) is expected to fall below 6% by 2030. It was 44.2 percent in 2015 and 17.4 percent in 2022. Nepal plans to increase per capita income to $2,500 by 2030, up from $766 in 2015. It is expected to reach $1051 in 2019 and $1097 in 2020/21. To address poverty more quickly while maintaining average income growth, the consumption share of the bottom 20% of households is expected to rise from 7.6 percent in 2015 to 12 percent in 2030. In 2019, it increased to 12.05 percent. Similarly, social protection spending is expected to account for 15% of the federal budget by 2030. It was 11% in 2015 and had risen to 11.7 percent in 2019.

Zero hunger and Nepal

The following major targets are part of SDG: 02, "Zero Hunger," which aims to eradicate hunger, achieve food security, and improve nutrition:

  • End hunger by 2030 and ensure that everyone has access to year-round, healthy food, with a focus on the poor and those in vulnerable situations, such as infants.
  • End all forms of malnutrition by 2030, including reaching the goals for preventing stunting and wasting in children under five years old by 2025. Take care of the nutritional needs of older people, pregnant and lactating women, and adolescent girls.
  • Double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers by the year 2030, with a focus on women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists, and fishers. This will be accomplished by ensuring that all producers have equal access to land, other productive resources, knowledge, financial services, markets, and value-adding and non-farm employment opportunities.
  • Implement resilient agricultural practices that boost productivity and production, support ecosystem preservation, bolster capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding, and other disasters, and gradually improve land and soil quality by 2030.
  •  Maintain the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants, domesticated animals, and their related wild species by 2020, including through well-managed, diverse seed and plant banks at the national, regional, and international levels. Additionally, promote access to and equitable sharing of benefits from using genetic resources and related traditional knowledge, per an international agreement.

In addition to the goals listed above, SDG-2 also has the following objectives: increase investment, including through improved international cooperation, in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, technology development, and plant and livestock gene banks to increase agricultural productivity capacity in developing countries, particularly least developed countries; correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in global agriculture.

Nepal has a score of 46 on the Global Food Security Index. The Global Hunger Index gives Nepal a score of 19.1 (external link), which is still high. The prevalence of stunting and underweight in children has decreased significantly, even though undernourishment decreased from 36.1 percent of the population in 2015 to 8.7 percent in 2019.

Over time, child malnutrition has decreased, but not quickly enough. In Nepal, the percentage of underweight children (aged 6-59 months) was 30.1% in 2015, fell to 27% in 2016, and has since fallen to 24.3% in 2019. By 2030, Nepal wants to bring this down to 9 percent. Similarly, the prevalence of stunting among children under five dropped from 36% in 2015 to 31.6 % in 2019. Underweight children tend to be born to mothers who lack education or come from lower-income families, and they are more prevalent in rural areas.

Government spending on agriculture accounted for 2.21 percent of the budget in 2017–18 and will rise to 2.8 percent in 2020–21. The target was to produce 376 kg of food grains per person in 2019–20. Though it accounts for 33 percent of all irrigated land, year-round irrigated land has not made much progress.

Quality Education and Nepal

The targets for SDG:4, or quality education, are as follows:

  • Make sure that by 2030, both girls and boys have received a free, equitable, and high-quality primary and secondary education that produces useful and efficient learning outcomes.
  •  By 2030, ensure that every boy and girl has access to high-quality pre-primary education so they are prepared for primary education.
  •  By 2030 all men and women will have equal access to affordable and high-quality technical, vocational, and tertiary education, including higher education.
  •  Increase youth and adult populations who possess the necessary skills—including technical and vocational ones—for employment, respectable jobs, and entrepreneurship—by a significant margin by 2030.
  •  Eliminate gender disparities in education by 2030, and guarantee that all disadvantaged groups, including people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and children in precarious situations, have equal access to all education and vocational training levels.
  •  By 2030, most men and women and all young people will have mastered literacy and numeracy.
  •  By 2030, make sure that all students have the knowledge and abilities necessary to advance sustainable development, including, but not limited to, education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, the promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and an understanding of cultural diversity and its role in sustainable development.

Besides the targets mentioned above, the other targets included in SDG-4 are to build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability, and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive, and effective learning environments for all; by 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular, least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programs, in developed countries and other developing countries; and by 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing States.

Nepal has pledged to fulfill its people's right to an education. It has made significant efforts to ensure that all people, including the poor and disadvantaged, have access to educational services. As a result, the Net Enrollment Rate (NER) in primary education reached 97.2 percent in 2019, just shy of the goal of 99.5 percent by 2030. The proportion of students who complete grade eight is 79.3 percent, while the total number of students enrolled in secondary school is 71.4 percent.

Similarly, the population aged 15-24 had an 88.6 percent literacy rate in 2015, which increased to 92 percent in 2019. As a result, it is close to meeting its target date of 2030. However, only 31% of the working-age population received vocational and technical training, whereas the target was 38%. The increase in Internet users is encouraging, with 58 percent of adults using the Internet in 2019.

In 2019, the Gender Parity Index (GPI) (external link) in primary school enrollment was 1.06, compared to the target of 1.01. In primary schools, girls outnumbered boys. However, the GPI for the secondary level in 2019 was only 0.95. This demonstrates that gender parity has improved. The government recently approved the National Framework for SDG 4 - Education 2030. Some provincial and local governments have also begun to develop educational plans and programs.

Decent work, Economic growth, and Nepal

The SDG 8 Goal of decent work and economic growth includes the following targets:

  • Maintain per capita economic growth under national circumstances, with the least developed countries achieving at least 7% annual GDP growth.
  • Increase economic productivity through diversification, technological advancement, and innovation, focusing on high-value-added and labor-intensive sectors.
  • Encourage the formalization and growth of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, including access to financial services, through development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation.
  • Improve global resource efficiency in consumption and production gradually through 2030, and strive to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, under the 10-year framework of sustainable consumption and production programs, with developed countries leading the way.
  • Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including young people and people with disabilities, by 2030, as well as equal pay for equal work.
  • Reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education, or training by 2020.
  • Take immediate and effective steps to eliminate forced labor, modern slavery, and human trafficking, as well as the prohibition and elimination of the most heinous forms of child labor, such as recruitment and use of child soldiers, and end child labor in all its forms by 2025.
  • Protect workers' rights and promote safe and secure working conditions for all employees, including migrant workers, particularly women migrants and those in precarious employment.
  • Create and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs while promoting local culture and products by 2030.
  • Increase domestic financial institutions' capacity to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance, and financial services for all.

Other targets included in SDG-8 are to increase Aid for Trade support for developing countries, particularly least-developed countries, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries, and to develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and to implement the International Labour Organization's Global Jobs Pact by 2020.

The per capita GDP growth rate increased from 2.3 percent in 2015 to 5.6 percent in 2019. However, due to COVID-19, the growth rate in 2019/20 was limited to 2.3 percent. One of the SDG-2 targets is to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men. Nepal's unemployment rate (15-59 years) was 27.8 percent in 2015, dropping to 19.6 percent in 2019.

The goal also includes making financial services available to everyone. 81.2 percent of the population had access to financial services within a 30-minute walk, and the population per financial institution was 3363. The population with access to cooperatives within 30 minutes of walking distance was 60%, compared to the target of 60.9 percent by 2019. The Nepalese labor market is mostly informal, with 59.2 percent of informal employment in the non-agriculture sector. Because more than half of the population works in the informal sector and is not covered by social security, the government is working to include this population in the social security scheme.

Employing the population that is now returning from various destinations as a result of COVID-19 will be a major challenge for the government. As a result, it is committed to putting a special emphasis on agriculture and the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises, individual entrepreneurship, and skill development to create job opportunities for both returning and unemployed people.

The negative impact of COVID-19 on the tourism (external link) industry has impacted many people in Nepal. It is critical to reduce poverty and promote prosperity in the country by ensuring rapid, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth by developing agriculture, industries, and services sectors. As a result, the government has prioritized increasing productive capacity across sectors, developing technical skills and entrepreneurship, ensuring access to credit for small and medium-sized enterprises, encouraging the establishment of export promotion zones (EPZs) and special economic zones (SEZs), and facilitating enterprise export capacity.


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