Finance Minister Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat/File photo.
KATHMANDU: Finance Minister Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat has said Nepal has 45 percent forest coverage out of total land, thereby providing a clean breath of oxygen for humans.
Addressing the 7th assembly of the Global Environment Facility in Canada, Minister Dr. Mahat reminded the international community that Nepal is the source of water for over one billion people in South Asia. Nepal has been making honest efforts on biodiversity and environment conservation, he said, adding that the wild animals facing extinction were conserved well, resulting in a rise in the number of tigers and rhinos of late.
The Minister viewed the forest and wildlife as a significant heritage not only for Nepal but also for the world community. Despite these endeavors, Nepal is one of 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change. Erratic weather events such as drought, scan rainfall, and landslides were on the rise in Nepal.
The Minister further drew the attention that Nepal was estimated to have its temperature rise from 0.5 to 2 degrees Celsius by 2030 compared to the pre-industrial period, while the country needs some 50 billion US dollars to face the loss and damages caused by the temperature rise by 2050.
He underscored the need for effective enforcement of the programs run under climate finance. The Minister also requested that the resources from the New Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF) passed by the assembly should be mobilized in the most vulnerable countries. Only the implementation of an integrated and holistic program would be meaningful, he emphasized.
Meanwhile, Minister Mahat held discussions on bilateral issues with the Chiefs and representatives of various international organizations. During the bilateral meeting with the CEO of the Global Environment Facility, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO appreciated the conservation efforts made by the government of Nepal in the field of biodiversity, environment and wildlife.
Rodriguez lauded Nepal for arranging 79 per cent of total investment in these fields through internal resources. On the occasion, he pledged support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to hand over new technologies for the development of green infrastructures and for the replacement of plastic and effective garbage management.
Minister Mahat requested the WEF to consider increasing grant assistance to Nepal for climate actions.
Likewise, in the meetings with the Chief Conservation Officer of the World Wildlife Fund, Nik Sekhran, Administrator of the UNDP, Achim Steiner, and Acting Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Dr. Grethel Aguilar, he deliberated on the global impact of climate change and the challenges facing Nepal as well as the ways to mitigate the risks.
During the bilateral meetings, Minister Mahat shed light on the environmental conservation efforts of Nepal and the strides made towards it. He shared that forest coverage in Nepal at present stands at around 45 per cent, thanks to the successful implementation of the community forest concept.
Sharing the success stories of Nepal’s wildlife and environment conservation efforts, he informed that the number of tigers had nearly tripled and the number of rhinos had nearly doubled in Nepal in the last decade.
On a different note, he emphasized the operation of the UN’s Environment Fund and GEF through the national system so as to achieve concrete results and such programs should bring about positive changes in the living standards of the local communities.
The Minister brought to the fore the increasing cases of human-wildlife conflict in Nepal resulting in huge loss of lives and properties every year.
For the protection of wildlife, he urged international organizations for their assistance in the construction of roads and other infrastructures that are friendly to wildlife movements, risk insurance for those communities affected by human-wildlife conflict and self-employment programs among others.
He mentioned that Nepal needed additional financial resources for the development of green infrastructures and for skills development and capacity enhancement of the human resources involved in environment and wildlife conservation efforts.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered a special address in the closing ceremony of the GEF Assembly where participants included ministers from 83 countries and stakeholders and representatives from 185 countries.