KATHMANDU, Aug 23: Nepal has fared marginally better in the recently released Habitat Commitment Index (HCI), which tracks every country's performance record as against the commitments made during Habitat II in Istanbaul in1996.
Nepal has improved by 1.94 points in the last two decades, according to the HCI that creates an index, which tracks the progress made in six broad categories of the Habitat II agenda including Infrastructure, Poverty, Employment, Sustainability, Institutional Capacity, and Gender. Nepal has scored 69.22 points in HCI scale in 2016 compared to 67.28 in 1996.
Habitat III also revealed that Nepal has fared better than India as India has slipped marginally by 0.41 points on the HCI scale. The South Asian average stands at 1.26, it said, adding that UN member states will agree on the New Urban Agenda at Habitat III, scheduled to be held in Quito in October this year. "In the run-up to the event, the review of each country's score on the previous urban agenda was released by the New York based Global Urban Futures Project."
Instead of comparing absolute outcomes between countries of varying levels of economic development, the outcomes are adjusted for resource difference, as measured by per capita GDP.
In the absence of any monitoring mechanism or binding commitment, the overall global HCI score has increased by only 1.49 points, the report states, adding: “Despite the Habitat Agenda's 241 paragraphs containing over 600 recommendations, there has been little meaningful change in urban conditions since Habitat II."
From a global average of 69.68 in 1996 it has now gone up to current average score of 71.17, which means that global performance is at around 70 percent of what could have been possible given the level of resources available. "Of all the six indicators, the worst performance is on the sustainability index where the global average performance is not even at half of what it should be."
Among the drivers of the changes -- or lack thereof -- in the HCI scores, the greatest change was in the Gender dimension, it reads, adding that the average gender HCI score increased by 8.62 points in the period between Habitat II and the present, rising to a global average of 76.82 -- one of the highest among the HCI categories. "This rise was due in part to phenomenal increase in the Female Tertiary Enrollment indicator, which rose by an HCI score of 22.13 points, by far the largest positive change among the indicators."
The report also states that minimal progress was made in the Infrastructure dimension (+1.78), while Poverty (+5.69) and Sustainability (+3.63) improved modestly in the last 2 decades. Only two dimensions saw declines in overall average HCI scores; Employment and Institutional Capacity.
While decline in the Employment dimension was negligible (-0.56), Institutional Capacity had the most extreme change among the dimensions, with the global average HCI score for Institutional Capacity falling by 11.26 points, from 74.8 in 1996 to 63.5, and accounting in large part for the overall lack of HCI progress, since the decline was large enough to offset gains made across the other categories.
The two components of the Institutional Capacity dimension, the International Country Risk Guide's Quality of Government index and the World Bank's Government Effectiveness index, declined by 18.09 and 6.52, respectively.
However, the two Institutional Capacity measurements do not take into account levels of participation, democracy, or freedom, but rather are based on surveys sent to firms and NGOs to assess perceptions of governments' abilities to provide public services.