In 2015, Nepal joined other members of the United Nations in adopting the global sustainable development (SDGs) goals that follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as the international development targets. This report gives the preliminary findings of a review of the enabling environment, institutional mechanisms, systems to generate evidence if its periodic achievements, challenges ahead, progress and
preparation for effectively implementing SDGs friendly intervention in Nepal The review was carried out through a consultative process.2. Achievement of the MDGs
The review began by summarizing progress against and drawing key lessons from the implementation of MDGs along with identifying unfinished agendas. Nepal achieved MDG 1 as extreme poverty and hunger halved within two and a half decades. It was close to achieving MDG 2 of universal primary education for all by 2015 as primary school enrollment rate reached to 96.6 percent from the level of 64 percent in 1990 while
89.4 percent of pupils enrolling in Grade 1 reached grade 5 and the literacy rate of 15-24 years increased to 88.6 percent from the level of 38 percent and 49.6 percent respectively in 1990. The gender parity MDG 3 was achieved at all levels of education and MDG 4 was achieved on reducing infant and under-5 mortality rates. Nepal almost achieved MDG 5 of improving maternal health as the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) dropped from 850/100,000 live births in 1990 to 258 in 2015. MDG 6 was partially achieved as the spread of HIV/AIDS halted and began to reverse, and malaria is in the elimination phase and the capacity to detect and treat tuberculosis (TB) cases significantly improved. Nepal was partially successful in achieving MDG 7 on
environmental sustainability due to the slow growth of access to energy though forest cover increased to 44.5 percent in 2015 from 37 percent in 1990. Besides tremendous progress in the communication sector with tele-penetration now more than 106 percent and 43.7 percent of the population having internet access, could not, fully achieve MDG goal 8 of building partnerships and strengthening the means of MDG implementation.
The following agendas remained unfinished at the end of 2015:
a. Reducing wide gaps between the level of poverty across all regions, social groups, age, sex, and by disability status.
b. Reducing the dropout rate of school students, increasing quality of education especially of the community schools
c. Increasing the grade promotion rates of girls in secondary schools and the enrolment of women in technical and vocational education and training.
d. Addressing the wide disparities in child mortality rates across sub-regions and social groups..
e. The reduction of the MMR across all geographic regions, social groups and income quintiles.
f. Increasing public financing for disease prevention and control, scaling up HIV
treatment and care, sustaining the reduced incidence of malaria and tackling
multi-drug resistant TB.
g. Sustaining environmental achievements, protecting Nepal from the negative
effects of climate change and preventing biodiversity loss.
h. Receiving committed official development assistance and increasing aid
effectiveness, focusing on development results and mutual accountability, access to international markets, trade facilitation and aid for trade.
3. The Enabling Environment
The Constitution of Nepal (2015) guarantees inclusive socio-economic and political development, the building of an egalitarian and pluralistic society and the elimination of all forms of discrimination. This Constitution is the main guiding document for all new policies, plans and programmes, and other interventions to implement the aspiration of the SDGs that ‘no one is left behind’.
The government has started to mainstream the SDGs into national planning and budgeting systems. The Fourteenth Plan (2016/17–2018/19) which has in-built result-
framework, internalises key aspects of SDGs through systematic integration of SDGs in the periodic plans needs rigorous works which the country has already initiated. In addition, the annual programmes and budgets of 2016/17 and 2017/18 have been aligned with the SDGs by introducing SDGs coding to each and every programme. However, since the new provincial and local government levels are under formation, SDGs are yet
to be fully aligned and incorporated at the sub-national level planning and budgeting processes.
4. Status of the SDGs
Amongst 17 SDGs, this review analyses progress against SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9 and 17 upto June 2017. It should also be noted that most achievements were made in the MDG period as only one year of the SDG period has elapsed.
Poverty reduction (SDG 1): The percentage of people living below the national poverty line dropped from 38 percent in 2000 to 21.6 percent in 2015. And, the proportion of population below the minimum level of dietary consumption dropped from 47 percent in 2000 to 22.8 percent in 2015.
Hunger and nutrition (SDG 2): Nepal has made good progress on reducing hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition. The proportion of underweight children 6 to 59-month-olds dropped from 43 percent in 2000 to 27 percent in 2016. The prevalence of stunted children dropped from 57 percent in 2000 to 36 percent in 2016 and prevalence of wasting among under 5-year-olds dropped from 15 percent in 1996 to
10 percent during the same period.
Health and wellbeing (SDG 3): Significant progress has been made on reducing mortality and improving health. The under-5 mortality rate reduced from 91/1000 live births in 2000 to 39 in 2016 while the infant mortality rate dropped from 64/1000 live births in 2000 to 32 in 2016. The neonatal mortality rate dropped from 38/1000 live birth in 2000 to 21 in 2016. The total fertility rate of women aged 15-49 dropped from 4.1
children in 2000 to 2.3 in 2016. The proportion of pregnant women having antenatal check-ups by a skilled provider increased from 28 percent in 2000 to 84 percent in 2016.
The proportion of births in health facilities increased from 9 percent in 2000 to 57 percent in 2016 while the proportion of births attended by a skilled provider increased from 11 percent in 2000 to 58 percent in 2016. This all led to the large drop in the MMR from 850/100,000 live births in 1990 to 258 in 2015.
Gender equality (SDG 5): Nepal has made impressive progress in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. Gender parity is achieved in all levels of education.
The ratio of girls to boys in primary education increased from 0.79 in 2000 to 1.09 in 2015. Gender parity was achieved in primary education in gross and net enrolment in 2015. The ratio of girls to boys in secondary education increased from 0.70 in 2000 to 1.0 in 2015. Gender parity was also achieved in secondary education. The ratio of women to men in tertiary education increased many fold from 0.28 women to every man in
2000 to 1.05 in 2015 .
Resilient infrastructure and inclusive industrialization (SDG 9): Nepal has improved its infrastructure. The length of roads reached 82,412 km in 2016 of which 14 percent was black-topped, 23 percent graveled and 63 percent earthen. The road density was 0.44 km/sq2 in 2015/16. And 51.4 percent of people have access to a paved road within 30 minutes’ walk. The construction of railroads has begun. Connectivity by air transport is improving. Nepal has 33 airports in operation and 25 domestic private airlines and 26 international airlines operating flights in and to Nepal. The country’s tourism infrastructure is improving with 1,073 tourist standard hotels. Nepal has greatly improved its information and communication technology infrastructure as the density of telephone users reached 110 percent. In 2016, the share of industry in GDP was 15 percent, and manufacturing value added as a proportion of GDP was 6.5 percent.
Means of implementation (SDG 17): Adequate finance, technology, institutions, capacity and partnership are vital for achieving the SDGs. These components have a synergetic effect. The current availability of resources indicate that there is a large gap to finance the achievement of the SDGs. An SDG needs assessment, costing and financing strategy is underway to articulate financial needs. Nepal also needs technological support
including smart technology for small-scale agro-based entrepreneurs and low carbon emission engineering for its industries. Efficient construction technology is needed for building large hydropower projects, new nternational airports, roads, bridges, apartments and railways. Partnerships are being strengthened with the private sector, cooperatives, civil society, development partners and the international community to
meet the large capacity building needs.
5. Institutional Mechanisms for Implementing the SDGs
Many stakeholders have taken the initiative to implement the SDGs in Nepal. The Government has formed three levels of committees. The Prime Minister and Chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC) chairs the high-level SDGs Steering Committee, while the NPC Vice Chairman chairs the SDGs Coordination and Implementation Committee, and NPC members chair the nine SDGs Implementation and Monitoring Thematic Committees. Other government and non-government agencies have also initiated activities including institutional setups for implementing the SDGs.
The private sector has joined hands with the government for implementing the SDGs through job creation and infrastructure building. The cooperative sector has taken initiatives under the slogan of ‘Cooperatives for Sustainable Development.’ Civil society organisations have formed an SDG forum, which has identified target groups and formed thematic groups. The development partners have shown interest in supporting government’s efforts.
6. Challenges and Issues
Achieving the SDGs is a big challenge for least developed countries like Nepal that have limited resources, skills and access to technology. A major challenge will be to cascade national efforts to sub-national levels mainstreaming the SDGs agenda into the provincial and local level planning and budgeting as these new levels of government are in the formation process. Making existing data generation system robust and data bases
in line with SDGs requirement is one of the key challenges which demand huge resources and capacities as well. Data disaggregation has been a serious challenges in regularly tracking progress of SDGs. Other challenges include job creation and tackling nutrition deficiency and natural disasters, and strengthening governance at all levels.
7. Lessons Learned
a. The government, the private sector, civil society, cooperatives, and development partners are all on board for implementing the SDGs.
b. The sector wide approach used to develop health, education, and water and sanitation have demonstrated better results compared to other sectors as a result of resource harmonization.
c. Nepal invested the major part of resources in the social sector during the MDGs period leading to large social sector improvements. Relatively less was spent on the infrastructure sector which points to the need for large investments in it during the SDGs period.
d. Many sectoral master plans and strategies are not aligned with the SDGs. An overall monitoring mechanism need to be developed. Monitoring the progress of output level SDGs indicators will be relatively easy but evaluating outcome and impact level indicators will be more of a challenge due to data gaps.
8. Ways Forward
a. Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity need the dedicated and coordinated implementation of the SDGs by federal, provincial and local governments.
b. Macroeconomic policy reforms are needed to achieve higher levels of economic growth and to distribute income and benefits to the poor and marginalized people.
c. Nepal is a least developed country with limited resources. Nepal therefore needs to prioritise interventions based on fiscal, financial, managerial, technological, institutional and other capacity constraints. Prioritization needs to be given to those SDGs that have multiplier effects and larger impacts on poor and marginalized people, smallholders, peasants, children and women.
d. Sectoral plans, long-term strategies and perspective plans need further aligning with the SDGs. During the revision, attention needs to be paid to disaggregating targets and indicators at sub-national level, by sex, age, social groups and disability. SDGs progress monitoring demands systematic and disaggregated data generation, analysis and management. In addition, to inform the policy process which policies or interventions worked and which did not in achieving SDGs, evaluation-based evidences need to be generated that again demands huge resources and capacities at various levels.
e. The implementation of the SDGs requires stable, participatory, visionary, development-oriented and people-centric federal, provincial and local governments. Governance needs to be strengthened at all levels.
f. Government should give high priority on integrating SDGs into provincial and local government plans and building capacity of these new institutions.