“EU will stand by Nepal in hard times”

Team Europe will do its part so that 20% of Nepal’s population is vaccinated under the COVAX initiative

Women with their babies displaying their ‘Nanglo with nutritious diet’. Ever since the first (2013-2017) phase of the Multisector Nutrition Plan (MSNP) gathered steam with support from the EU and in 30 priority districts, there has been visible progress in the health of both mothers and their infants. Photo: ELOISA FERNANDEZ ASTUDILLO, EU DELEGATION TO NEPAL

The 71st birthday of the European Union is a special day. Every year on 9 May we celebrate what started as a peace project in 1950, and is now an alliance for our joint future.

The 27 member states and their 450 million citizens build our Union every day with their actions and their commitment, making it stronger through challenging times such as the Covid -19 pandemic.

From day one, Europe has been guided by the principles of community, solidarity and cooperation. Today, these principles remain as relevant as ever.

Europe promotes a sustainable and balanced growth: at home and in our partner countries. The European Union (EU) is the largest donor of development and humanitarian aid in the world and one of its major economic blocks, building the future based on agreed rules. The EU has expanded its presence in 140 nations across the world to build for all children, wherever they are, whoever they are, a shared world of peace, democracy, prosperity and security.

The EU advocates and promotes a multilateral rules-based world order. It believes that there are global solutions to global problems. And to solve today’s global problems, the EU is pushing for universal access to Covid-19 vaccines, to strengthen the global recovery from the pandemic, tackle inequalities, modernise global institutions, establish global rules for the new digital technologies, win the race against climate change and restore our relationship with nature.

The EU is dedicated to tackling the challenge of climate change in Europe and in Nepal, because there is no partial solution to climate change. Some 40% of the world’s public climate finance comes from the EU, and climate change is at the heart of our external action and financing.

We want to take this opportunity to invite the government and the people of Nepal to engage in a conversation on how we can work together and make a green alliance with Nepal.

The EU has seized the challenge of climate change in the context of Covid-19 recovery, and has adopted the ambitious European Green Deal, which is the Union’s internal growth strategy aiming towards a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050.

As in Europe, the fight against climate change in Nepal is an opportunity to support, alongside with other international partners, Nepal’s evolution towards a modern, sustainable, resource-efficient and competitive economy. A green recovery is not only about climate change.

The pandemic has reminded us of the links between environmental degradation and the impacts on human health. Air needs to stay cleaner, and biodiversity loss needs to be reversed. We have to build back better, for the health and wellbeing of our people.

The Covid-19 crisis has put the spotlight on gender bias and its impact on women-owned businesses, on the burden women are facing during the crisis, on their role as essential workers, the increased household load and the increase of gender-based violence.

It is more relevant than ever in this context, to shape the coming socio-economic recovery with women at its centre, so that it is socially just, resilient and inclusive for all and support the progress on Nepal’s global commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement.

The EU is showing leadership, responsibility and solidarity with those affected by the pandemic. Since the very start of this pandemic, the EU has chosen multilateralism and cooperation over nationalism and competition. We have formed Team Europe, which consists of the EU, its member states and their diplomatic networks, and financial institutions such as the national development banks, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Together, Team Europe has contributed €2.47 billion to the COVAX initiative, which delivered already 40.5 million doses of vaccine to more than 100 countries worldwide, including Nepal – truly embodying our European principles of community, solidarity and cooperation.

COVAX’s 348,000 doses of vaccines reached Nepal in March, and Team Europe will do its part so that 20% of Nepal’s population is vaccinated for free.

The EU in its over 45 years of partnership with Nepal has contributed to the development, reform and democratisation process of the country, as a reliable companion in the implementation of Nepal’s reform strategies. European citizens have given €600 million to Nepal in the last 15 years, and they intend to continue.

We were here during hard times, as when the earthquake hit, and we will continue being here in the next decade. The EU as a political partner will make Nepal’s voice stronger in the global and international dialogue and partnerships.

Let us celebrate Europe Day and may the friendship between Nepal and the EU and our people grow deeper and stronger. Let us live the principles of community, solidarity and cooperation because we are stronger together.

This year’s celebrations, just as last year, is happening amidst the pandemic. In keeping with the social distancing measures, online events will replace traditional Europe Day celebrations. We may not be able to share physical spaces, but we can still be together virtually, safely from our homes. Stay safe.

Nona Deprez is Ambassador and Head of EU Delegation to Nepal (@EUinNepal). 

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