The recent Bali Summit on Global Climate Change in the first week of January 2008 was an eye awakener for Nepal since it was also one of the ecological countries in focus. Much was destroyed in the Nepalese environment as a result of the 10 year old civil conflict which ended only in 2006. However, there have been a host of international non-governmental, UN, and other international organizations that have been working toward reducing the environment damage. Nepal has also been a close adherent of the UNFCCC’s various tenets that in principle guide a country towards safe environmental safeguards.
In the post-Bali period, one of the encouraging aspects of Nepali environmental development has been the first payment of $514,786 from the World Bank recently for Nepal’s role in reducing emission of greenhouse gases. The Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) a government initiative to promote clean energy was the recipient of the award. Part of the agenda at the Bali Summit was also the protection of wildlife species, and in the past two years, with rife poaching on the rise, there is serious threat now to the Himalayan ecology. However this is not covered by CDMs.
While the AEPC had signed an agreement with the World Bank’s Community Development Carbon Fund(CDM) specifically for the biogas support program (Activity 1 of the project), the amount that has been received was solely for this component’s success. The amount which can work wonders for Nepali environmental education must now be rechanneled to push biogas and alternate energy consumption projects in Nepal at a larger scale. For instance, wind power which the Netherlands government had once launched with much gusto has somehow been relegated to the SNV backburner in Kathmandu, though the bio-gas project is now a regional one. UNEP Regional office in Bangkok headed by a dashing young Nepali, Surendra Man Shrestha, is known to have thought of some bold post-Bali initiatives for countries such as Nepal, Fiji and Maldives, and UNDP usually incorporates environmental safeguards in most of its Nepal components, but we need to be enlightened more on their positive outcome and what these program components are and how well they suit the coming timeframe. Personally, I believe the World Bank’s good initiatives can get more newsworthy mileage if it too regularly launches a media partnership with the print and audio-visual channels in Nepal to enlighten the Nepali public on important project accomplishments under CDM.
The Emission Reduction Purchase Agreement that Nepal signed must be considered noteworthy since Nepal’s AEPC will get annually $7 for reduction of every ton of carbon emission. Dr. Govind Raj Pokhrel as the Executive Director of AEPC has been doing a splendid job, and is considered very hard working and an innovative mind, but he too needs to expand the program with joint media collaboration, particularly those that have taken an active pro-environmental stance in the past years and supporting the position on balanced global greenhouse reduction taking Nepal as an enviro-centric model. I would suggest to Pokhrel to also advertise routinely about such programs in the Nepali media and on-line, so that the younger generation of Nepali globally can get more involved in gauging the overall environmental effects of the post-Bali agreement in relation to their own country and the issue of CDM monetary returns. Maybe some of the schools in Nepal could be actively involved in the near future. Young children are environmentally conscious and need to be promoted as our CDM ambassadors in future. Nepal for instance has 9,708 bio gas plants that are getting ever more popular plus nearly 2500 wind mills more than half of which are still functioning well. As a result, it has helped reduce 93,901 tons of carbon emission. Nepal must further continue promoting environmentally conscious projects that favor the Kyoto Protocol’s moderate achievements since some of the Nepal launched initiatives have been considered exemplary in the global roster of successful World Bank initiatives.
According to the agreement reached with the World Bank, AEPC was rewarded for projects that actually were already being conducted between August 2004 and July 2006. World Bank’s Nepal Country Director, Susan Goldmark has already made her active contribution and presence known in the past few months she has been posted in Kathmandu, by wholeheartedly supporting if not re-tailoring crucial projects related to HIV/AIDS, environmental protection and further promotion of public-private partnerships. There are many more projects that could be rewarded under the CDM scheme, many could in fact be existing at the private entrepreneurship level without government knowing about it. It is therefore important that proper registration of these great visionary Nepali efforts be recognized as Goldmark remarked in handing over the World Bank cheque to Nepal. It might be noteworthy that Nepal does not have much industrial production and so meets the IFCC’s environmental caps in 2008, which were further reinforced at Kyoto, but that might not hold true in the future. The increased aviation market lurch to use Nepali open skies and cutting down of trees for fuel wood by 46% of the Nepali families that still live below the poverty line, pose a serious environmental problem to the Himalayan ecology.
It should also be considered encouraging if Nepal received payments for other similar projects which were run three or four years back when King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation was very active in the field of nature conservation, and are awaiting registration under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The World Bank and UNEP are also active in revising their environmental partnerships to encompass the true environmental actors in Nepal than rhetorical soothsayers,
Additionally it is worthy noting that the USAID Regional Environmental Office located in Kathmandu has been doing a splendid job helping Nepal. USAID’s environmental staff have worked closely with the Nepal government for the past five decades on important conservation and environmental protection issues. The US was, in fact, the only country besides Sir Edmund Hillary, that championed that the 8000 Himalayan peaks of Nepal be declared a global treasure house. America is also a pioneer in eco and adventure tourism whose benefits are yet to reflect fully in the 56 year old close partnership between the American and Nepali governments but might benefit in the CDM scheme in future. As USAID- REO website states,” Environmental problems do not respect national boundaries and thus will require trans-boundary solutions. In South Asia, these solutions will most likely be found in policies that promote sustainable economic development, environmentally sensitive urban planning, water initiatives that share benefits equitably, recycling of waste products, community-based natural resource management, and biodiversity and wildlife conservation. Key to progress will be capacity building, scientific research, technological development, education, and enhancing the role of civil society”.
One should note that delegates at the UN's climate change summit in Bali worried about the Nepali types of depletion as well than just the exchange of carbon emissions and allocating country points. It was felt in the conference’s sideline discussions that it was high time Nepal’s environmental experts and conscious international development organizations such as USAID and World Wildlife Fund work together in active partnership with UNEP and the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change to accelerate stepped up funding and coordination efforts. Nepal has already lost some of its best environmental advocates and experts in the unfortunate helicopter accident at Ghumsa, Taplejung in 2006.
The Bali meeting focused on four main issues that matter a lot to Nepal. These related to global climate change and its impact mitigation, adaptation, financing and technology adoption. All four of the Bali outcomes are being studied intently by the World Bank in its Nepal environmental adoption programs with other important actors such as USAID-REO and UNEP also actively assisting in conference networking and pulling up cost build-up resources to sustain programs in the past few years. Nepal as a developing country might have earned its first historic credit point under the Clean Development Mechanism (CMD) recently, but Nepali post-Kyoto lobbyists should not rest here: the current targets are only for reaching; what we really need at the national level is a more stringent environmental protocol governing the entire Hindu-Kush extendible Himalayan Belt.
(Surya B. Prasai is a regional contributor to Nepal Horizons from Maryland as well as writes as for the American Chronicle National Media Network, Los Angeles besides contributing as Google Global News Resource Expert on international affairs, development, HIV/AIDS impact mitigation, US and Asia-Pacific immigration, gender and global climate change ).
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