Hon’ble Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission, Dr. Dipendra Kshetry
Hon’ble Minister for Environment, Mr. Hem Raj Tated
Senior Government Officials at the dias,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
I am very pleased to welcome you all to this ‘Knowledge Sharing Event’ on energy, environment and climate change organized jointly by the Government of Nepal (GoN) and UNDP.
First of all, I would like to congratulate the Government of Nepal for a number of important initiatives in energy and environment sector. There have been many successes and there are still some important ongoing initiatives. UNDP is very happy to have been able to support the Government of Nepal in all these initiatives which has helped to bring about visible and tangible changes in the lives of the people over the decades.
I visited the rural energy site soon after I came to Nepal, to the remote village in the far west—
Gairigaon village, Jogbuda of Dadeldhura district. I saw myself a number of benefits that electricity has brought about in the lives of people, especially women and little children. The number of enterprises begun after having electricity in the village has increased the level of income. Electricity has enabled children to study at night; they are able to use computers. Women are relieved off the burden of grinding manually because of the mills established and run by themselves in their own villages. And this is all because of having electricity!
The achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) cannot be thought without accelerating the access and uses of energy in increased quantity and quality. This is even more so true in the case of rural areas of Nepal where a major chunk of population still lives in dark without electricity. A country where the Government has declared an energy crisis, the role of renewable energy has a huge potential.
Despite enormous hydropower potential, more than 80 percent of total energy consumption is from traditional biomass. Only 12 percent of energy consumption comes from commercial energy sources, such as petroleum and electricity, and electricity represents nearly 2 percent of the total energy consumption. Only about 56 percent of population has access to electricity, including both on-grid and off-grid. The urban areas have better access to electricity relative to rural areas (93 percent versus 49 percent). About two-thirds of households use firewood as their main source of fuel for cooking. The heavy reliance on such traditional fuels for cooking has a negative impact on the surrounding environment, the family health due to indoor air pollution, and poses additional burdens on women who are tasked to gather the fuel.
The difficult topography of the country, lack of road access and the general poverty of rural people have led to a search for least-cost methods for incrementally improving energy access. Renewable energy technologies (RETs) such as micro-hydropower, improved water mills, solar home systems and household biogas have provided reliable and cost effective energy services to hundreds of thousands of rural households.
All the works that we do in the country at the policy level or at the global level should ultimately translate into bringing a change in peoples’ lives for the better and this is why UNDP stands out – we work directly with the people, to make a difference!
Here I would like to mention some important joint initiatives;
- The strides that Nepal has made in the Renewable energy sector are remarkable. Today, Nepal has moved far ahead compared to 1996 when UNDP and GON jointly launched the Rural Energy Development Programme (REDP). UNDP has had a fruitful partnership with the Government’s Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC) and also the World Bank, to bring modern forms of energy including electricity to over 50,000 households of rural Nepal that would not have been connected with the national grid anytime soon.
By the end of 2012, the Renewable Energy for Rural Livelihoods (RERL) Programme will have supported the communities to install and operate about 450 micro hydropower plants generating 10 megawatt electricity and benefitting over 100,000 households all over Nepal.
- The completion of the National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) by the Ministry of Environment and its approval by the Cabinet has helped Nepal to highlight its urgent priorities. Now the next step is to take immediate action locally and globally for mitigation and adaptation. Addressing climate change will require significant efforts in understanding underlying causes, its widespread impacts and ways to address them. However, threats related to climate change can be taken as an opportunity to advance sustainable development on disaster risk reduction, promoting cleaner technologies, and transformation towards green economy.
- In the past, many development efforts were carried out at the cost of environmental degradation. Mainstreaming of poverty and environment issues into local development planning and implementation process hasemerged as a new knowledge for poverty reduction and sustainable development. It also ensures benefit to vulnerable groups particularly poor, women and disadvantageous groups. For example construction of rural roads in the hills has accelerated soil erosion and landslides. The study carried out with the support of Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) has recommended a balanced approach in road construction using both machine and labour based technology. It is important to materialize the recommendation, to stop greater problems of landslides and soil erosion especially during upcoming monsoons.
- UNDP today is happy to say that Nepal is viewed as a leader the area of accessing climate finance. As part of a larger Regional Initiative, UNDP has been supporting the Government of Nepal to get ready for using lessons learned from aid effectiveness. The Climate Public Expenditure Institutional Reviewconducted has assisted the Government for developing a methodology on climate change expenditure within the existing national budget system. Nepal has a lot to offer to other countries in Asia and the rest of the world in this important sector.
It is important to understand and realize that by being creative in our development efforts and realigning our approaches we can help reduce emissions, while promoting economic growth. This is essentially important for a poor and mountain country like Nepal where melting glaciers and extreme weather events have posed serious threats to downstream population and infrastructure and the key economic sectors like water resources, agriculture and tourism are hard hit by climate change. In the new UNDP Country Programme document (2013-2017), climate vulnerability has been given a major priority targeting on women, the excluded and the poor marginalized groups— as these groups are hardest hit by the catastrophes of climate change.
We believe and have witnessed globally that the scaling up decentralized energy program is a long and gradual process but it can be done. This requires sufficient upfront public investments in capacity development of both the central and local level bodies for planning, resource mobilization, collaboration and monitoring.
Nepal’s success in decentralized energy promotion has been highlighted and well recognized at global and regional forums with recent one— Nepal’s energy case has been selected as one of the best practices by UNDP Bureau of Development Policy (BDP).
Finally, I would like to say that;
UNDP has given high priority to expanding access to energy services: UN SG’s campaign for “Energy for All” by 2030 and the Year 2012 declared as the Year of Renewable Energy.
It is important that the Government and all development partners foster a closer collaboration to further expand the dialogue, consultation and share their knowledge on energy, environment and climate change in a harmonized manner to influence policies for benefitting the rural poor communities. I would like to reassure here that UNDP Nepal will continue to work with the GoN and our other development partners to help realize the short, medium and long term plans on rural energy development and productive use of electricity to help improve livelihoods and see tangible results on the ground.