The SDGs have been well-integrated into Nepal’s national development frameworks. Nepal has developed the SDGs Status and Roadmap 2016-2030, SDGs Needs Assessment, Costing and Financing Strategy, and SDGs Localization Guidelines that spell out baselines, targets and implementation and financing strategies for each SDG. Necessary institutional set-ups are also in place for effective implementation.
Guided by the overarching national aspiration of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’, the 15th Development Plan (2019/20-2023/24) has mainstreamed the SDGs. The 25 Year Long-Term Vision 2100 also internalizes the goals, targets and milestones of the 2030 agenda. Specific SDGs codes are assigned for all national development programmes through Medium Term Expenditure Framework. Furthermore, SDGs have been integrated in the Sub-National Governments’ periodic plans with effective monitoring and evaluation guidelines.
Assessment of the SDGs implementation over the last four years exhibits some encouraging results. As of FY 2017/18, the incidence of poverty has been reduced to 18.7 (SDG1). Similarly, prevalence of underweight, stunting and wasting among children under 5 years of age has decreased significantly (SDG2). In health sector, infant mortality, maternal mortality, and child mortality rates have been reduced (SDG3). The gross enrolments in basic and secondary level education stood at 93% and 46% against the 2019 targets of 98.5% and 72% respectively (SDG4).
The Constitution guarantees 33% of women representation in the national and provincial parliaments. Currently, women’s representation in the local level governments is about 41%. The gender parity index in enrollment for secondary level (Grades 9-12) set for 2019 has been achieved (SDG5).
Similarly, over 90% of the population has access to drinking water and about 99% has access to basic sanitation facilities (SDG6). Over 88% of the population has access to electricity and the target of per capita electricity consumption set for 2019 has been achieved (SDG7). In 2019, annual economic growth rate was 6.9% and per capita income increased to USD 1,051 (SDG8). In infrastructure sector, the road density is 0.54 against the 2019 target of 1.3. Manufacturing employment as a proportion of total employment has increased to 15.1% against the target of 8.3 for 2019. However, share of industry in GDP is only about 15.1% against the target of 17.7 (SDG9).
This shows that 2019 targets of social, economic and political empowerment have been achieved. However, reducing the income and consumption inequality remains a challenge (SDG10). The households living in safe houses reached 40% against the 2019 target of 37.8%. Against the target of 23 planned new cities; 27 have been established by 2019 (SDG11). The target for the use of plastics (per capita in gram per day) and land use for agricultural production (cereal as percentage of cultivated land) set for 2019 has also been achieved (SDG12).
Likewise, the 2019 targets related to preparation of local and community level adaptation plan have been achieved (SDG13). The forest under community-based management has reached 42.7% against the target of 39.8% for 2019. The target for protected areas which was set at 23.3% has also been achieved (SDG15). The Rule of Law and Voice and Accountability indicators for Nepal show better performance compared to the previous years (SDG16). Internet density (per 100 person) reached 65.9% in 2019 exceeding the target of 65% (SDG17).
Given this scenario, additional support in finance, technology, and capacity building are vital for achieving the SDGs. Currently, though the total government revenue as a proportion of GDP has increased and the target set for 2019 has been achieved, there still lies a huge gap to finance the achievement of the SDGs,
Moreover, the socio-economic shock of COVID-19 has caused unprecedented disruption in transportation, service sector, tourism, hospitality industry, revenue, and remittances. The fallout will be in the areas of income, poverty, employment, and economic growth, while the existing financing gap widens. This is sure to have a bearing on Nepal’s ambition for smooth and sustainable graduation from LDC category.
Other prominent challenges include localization of SDGs, lack of adequate data, and coordination and follow up. Therefore, closer cooperation, coherence and coordination among governments, development partners, civil society, business community, volunteers, and people will be critical. Enhanced level of global partnership is equally important.
Domestic expenditures financed by revenue is estimated to reach 80 percent. For meeting the private sector investment financing gap, foreign direct investment (inward stock) is expected to increase to 20 percent of GDP in 2030 from less than 3 percent in 2015.