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Remarks by Hon. Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the launch of Human Development Report 2020, entitled “Human Development Report 2020: The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene”

Hon. Krishna Prasad Oli, Member of the National Planning Commission

Dr. Yubraj Khatiwada, Former Minister for Finance

HE Nona Deprez, EU Ambassador

Dr Pema Gyamtsho, DG, ICIMOD

Mr. Yannick Glemarec, Executive Director, Global Climate Fund,

Ms. Ayshanie Labe, UNDP Resident Representative to Nepal,

Distinguished Panelists,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good afternoon and Namaskar to you all!

Let me first of all thank Ms. Ayshanie Labe, Resident Representative of UNDP in Nepal, for inviting me to this important ceremony of launching Human Development Report 2020. 

For three decades, Human Development Reports have fundamentally shaped the ideas and policy discourse on alternative assessment of development and wellbeing. The criteria used for measuring human development have been the basis for advancing social development agenda, including in Nepal. The contents of the HDR reports have served as useful policy resources for many countries.

Successive human development reports since 1990 have highlighted critical dimensions of human progress and sustainable development, thereby informing, encouraging and assisting the Governments and stakeholders to address the impediments in the way of enlarging choices. They have also widened the conceptual foundation of human development as a capability to lead life one values the most.

Over the years, the very concept of human development has evolved and adapted considerably to encompass newer elements and dimensions that expands human wellbeing, freedoms, and choices. This year, the report heralds an epoch-making transformation that has taken place in the inter-relationship between human and nature, and signals humans’ entry into an uncharted territory of Anthropocene- where humans shape the future of the planet, not the other way round.

The concept of human development has been re-interpreted in the report to account the profound impact of climate change and environmental degradation that we have experienced. The report asserts that in this uncertain and challenging new phase, human development cannot be defined by ‘capability’ to expanding choices alone, but also by the ‘agency’ and ‘value’ – that is ability to participate in decision making and make the most desired choices.

The report talks appropriately on planetary imbalances and social imbalances , and calls for just transformation that extends human freedoms while easing planetary pressures and underlines the need for whole-of-society response.

Conceptually, it develops a new planetary-pressure-adjusted-human-development-index (PHDI) and gives HDI a new dimension of accounting the impact a country makes to the planet.

The report has evoked a transformative thought in the form of an era of Anthropocene that will most probably shape the development discourse for another several decades.

This comes at a time that the world just celebrated the 5th anniversary of the Paris Climate Accord. World leaders have pronounced higher national ambitions and reinforced their commitment to firmly implement the Accord. This might look merely a coincidence. However, given the level of climate urgency felt around the world, this human development report is a significant addition to alert against the insatiable human action.

We just heard comprehensive presentations and rich intellectual commentaries on the report and its content. I believe the report will continue to invite further stimulating deliberations as we go on.

Dear Friends,

Now, let me relate the alarm ringing in the report to the context of Nepal and how we consider we could address the situation.

We Nepalis are the followers of nature-friendly culture. Our culture and traditions have taught us to live in harmony with nature, which is Nepali way of life. We consider rivers, mountains, trees, ponds and lakes as sacred places and abode of deities. We want to link this cultural value for the conservation of nature, protection of environment and mitigating and adapting with the impact of climate change.

Nepal strongly supports the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the call to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Mr. K P Sharma Oli addressed the climate ambition summit hosted to mark the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement last week and outlined the roadmap for Nepal’s ambition towards a net-zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050. Coinciding this, Nepal submitted its updated, more ambitious and progressive Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC-2020).

We are committed to the promotion of climate-resilient development and aim to move towards a zero-carbon economy. We have prioritized producing clean and renewable energy as well as promoting e-mobility, low carbon infrastructure and ecotourism. By 2030, Nepal aims to maintain 45% of the country’s land under forest cover and aims to extend protected area from 23% to 30% and preserve biodiversity.

Nepal’s mountains are not only source of fresh water for millions, but also serve as climate stabilizer and help maintain ecological balance in the oceans.

While implementing the NDC, Nepal remains committed to prioritize the issue of gender equality and social inclusion and ensure full, equal and meaningful participation of women, children, youth, indigenous peoples and marginalized communities in all stages of the implementation process. I believe this is where we match with the emphasis of this year’s HDR on human ‘agency’ and ‘value’.

While easy and adequate access to climate finance becomes critical for us to implement these ambitions, we are keen to join hands with all countries to march ahead for a more sustainable journey together.

With a view to contribute in our own way to the climate change agenda, we are committed to host the Sagarmatha Sambad when the COVID-19 situation becomes normal.

Human development is a path that leads us to live a happy and meaningful life. In order to successfully navigate through the age of Anthropocene, we do not have a choice of continuing the business as usual. It is a call to pursue entirely a new path that all countries, societies and economies must adopt to save humanity from unforeseen crises and dooms.

The most reassuring path is deploying sustained action through mechanisms of social norms and values, incentives and regulations, and nature based human development. Without this, we cannot address the most critical challenges of Anthropocene- mitigating and adapting to climate change, protecting biodiversity and ensuring human wellbeing for all.  

Before conclude, I would like to quote Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda, 'The bare earth, plantless, waterless, is an immense puzzle. In the forests or beside rivers everything speaks to humans. The desert does not speak. I could not comprehend its tongue; its silence...'

I believe, this report in the 30th year of HDR, will mark a paradigm shift in terms of new development thought, process and action for promoting sustainable human development in an extraordinary time that we are living in.

I thank you.

 

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