Importance of ecosystems for people and the planet

Nine of Nepal’s development partners have issued a statement on the occasion of World Environment Day 5 June that underlines their commitment to help Nepal respond to Covid-19 and the climate crisis. 

The statement also makes a reference to the mammoth Nijgad airport project, saying that while Nepal needs infrastructure, decisions on large projects like Nijgad need to be ‘based on sound economic, financial, climate, environmental and social impact analyses in line with Nepal’s climate and other commitments’. 

Full statement: 

On World Environment Day, we restate our commitment to helping Nepal respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and a sustainable and inclusive recovery.

This commitment is demonstrated in our joint support for Nepal’s Green, Resilient and Inclusive Development (GRID) ambitions for which development partners have committed up to US$7.4 billion. With committed leadership from the Government we look forward to embarking on a green, resilient and inclusive growth path together as the Covid-19 crisis abates.  

Nepal has recently delivered a new budget that features GRID principles in action. It is our sincere hope that Nepal’s commitment to GRID can be an example to the rest of the world at the Global Climate Conference, COP 26, to be held later this year. 

Forests are essential to achieving green, resilient and inclusive development, as they reduce both the causes and impacts of climate change. Nepal’s forests absorb dangerous climate gases, maintain water resources and decrease soil erosion, drought, and landslide risks. They are also the source of valuable natural resources and wildlife that support job creation and economic development in the forestry and tourism sectors.

Nepal has an internationally recognised record of increasing forest cover and maintaining biodiversity. Established forests, particularly, make the biggest contribution to carbon capture, biodiversity and economic value.  Before taking decisions to reduce Nepal’s mature, indigenous forests, sufficient analyses of potential economic, environmental and social impacts are extremely valuable to ensure things are done right, and the right things are done.  

The proposed Nijgad Airport is one example, which we understand may lead to the loss of up to two million native trees in an area of very high conservation value. We recognise the important role of infrastructure, and that development cannot avoid all environmental and social impacts. However, it is important to ensure that decisions, particularly those for large projects such as Nijgad Airport, are based on sound economic, financial, climate, environmental and social impact analyses in line with Nepal’s established economic, environmental and social regulations, as well as climate and other commitments.

International experience shows that transparency and public consultation are key to ensuring large projects are successful. A transparent and inclusive public dialogue on the costs and benefits of projects such as this can ensure that diverse stakeholders’ views and available evidence are used to inform decision making. 

As Nepal’s development partners, we are happy to support these dialogues. This is especially important as the world looks beyond Covid-19 to a more sustainable, inclusive and climate-resilient future – a future that requires all of us to acknowledge our dependence on nature.

This Statement is supported by the Asian Development Bank, Australian Embassy, British Embassy, European Union, Finnish Embassy, French Embassy, German Embassy, United Nations and World Bank in Nepal.

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