Climate change finds no mention in 16th Periodic Plan despite urgent concerns

Published On: October 1, 2023 03:30 PM NPT By: SHREE RAM SUBEDI

KATHMANDU, Oct 1: Despite the pressing global challenge of climate change and its severe implications for Nepal, the recently released concept paper of the 16th Periodic Plan by the Nepali government has omitted any mention of climate change. This glaring omission has raised concerns among experts and officials who consider it both unnatural and unexpected, given Nepal's vulnerability to climate-related disasters.

Nepal is among the countries most exposed to climate-related risks, yet the 19-page concept paper approved by the National Planning Commission (NPC) fails to address climate change. The document outlines 12 areas of structural transformation and their corresponding strategies, with the 11th point focusing on environmental issues, biodiversity protection, disaster management, and sustainable development. Strikingly, climate change is conspicuously absent from the five points under this category.

Furthermore, the preliminary list of 16 subjects for the 16th Periodic Plan includes a point titled 'Sustainable Development Goals and Green Economy,' which is related to climate concerns. Nevertheless, climate change has not been listed as a distinct topic.

The overarching objectives of the 16th Periodic Plan revolve around promoting good governance, social justice, and prosperity. These goals encompass maintaining political, administrative, and judicial governance, ensuring social justice in healthcare, education, employment, housing, and other sectors, and fostering prosperity in human life and the national economy. It is noteworthy that the term "climate change" is conspicuously absent from a document that is meant to guide Nepal's economic and social development for the next five years.

Raju Pandit Chhetri, director of the Prakriti Resources Center, an organization specializing in climate change, emphasized the vital importance of addressing climate change in Nepal, given its direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of Nepali citizens. He asserted that climate change should not be relegated to a regional issue but should instead be a central concern.

While Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has emphasized the severity of the climate crisis on international platforms, experts like Dr Krishna Prasad Oli, former NPC member and President of the Nepal Nature Conservation Fund, lamented the disconnect between global rhetoric and domestic action. Dr Oli pointed out that climate-related disasters, including floods, landslides, and inundations, already cost Nepal 2.5 percent of its GDP. He urged the government to allocate adequate resources and preparation to address this formidable challenge.

Climate change expert Chhetri argued for the establishment of a dedicated body in Nepal to address the multifaceted issue of climate change, as several South Asian countries have done. He cited the omission of climate change from the concept paper as a symptom of insufficient attention to the matter.

Dr Anil Pokharel, the head of the National Disaster Management and Risk Authority Center, highlighted the substantial financial losses caused by heavy rains this year, with 31 projects, including climate-related initiatives, suffering damages in the billions of rupees. He noted the recurring destruction of houses, loss of life, and damage to infrastructure due to landslides and extreme weather events.

Dr Prabhu Budathoki, an NPC member responsible for the environment sector, acknowledged the absence of climate change in the 16th Periodic Plan's concept paper but assured that the issue would be addressed in the final plan. He recognized the seriousness of the challenge and suggested that a separate portfolio for climate change might have been more appropriate.

The omission of climate change from such a crucial planning document underscores the need for a concerted effort to prioritize and address this pressing issue in Nepal's development agenda.


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