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Nepal Prime Minister bats for LDCs, calls out for bailout to achieve SDGs at UN forum

Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Left) with UN Secretary General Antony Guterres at the UN Headquarters in New York

With the world’s very underdeveloped countries facing challenges to achieve several sustainable goals (SDGs) amid coronavirus pandemic and war in Ukraine, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have called for affordable financing including stimulus package to help them to achieve the goals.

Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who addressed the 2023 SDG Summit as the Chair of the Group of the LDCs at the UN Headquarters in New York on Monday, Dahal said: “Halfway to the 2030 deadline, we are seriously off-track in achieving the SDGs. The SDGs are in dire need of a rescue plan.”

Dahal pointed out that massive scaling up of affordable finance to LDCs including through the SDG stimulus package was crucial. He said that seventeen goals and at least 18 of the 169 targets refer explicitly to the LDCs, recognizing the importance of addressing their development challenges.  There are 48 LDCs in the world including Nepal.

According to the Report on SDG presented by UN Secretary General António Guterres at the Economic and Social Council 2023 session under UN General Assembly in July, since 2015, global poverty reduction was already slowing down and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic reversed three decades of steady progress with the number of people living in extreme poverty increasing for the first time in a generation.

Since 2019, 70 million more people were pushed back into extreme poverty – currently defined as those who live on less than $2.15 per person per day in 2017 purchasing power parity. Given historical trends, only one-third of countries will have halved their national poverty rates by 2030 from 2015. Goal one of SDG is to end poverty in all its forms everywhere by 2030, the report says.

Likewise, goal 2 calls for ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. But, according to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated an already deteriorating food security situation, with about 150 million more people facing hunger in 2021 than in 2019. The ongoing crisis in Ukraine is yet another threat to food security, the report said.

According to the Secretary General’s report, the global population with access to electricity has increased from 87 percent in 2015 to 91 percent in 2021. But still 675 million people, majorly located in LDCs and sub-Saharan Africa, still lacked access to electricity in 2021.

According to the report, economy of LDCs has struggled to recover post pandemic. “The growth in real GDP of LDCs slowed down from 5 percent in 2019 to just 0.2 percent in 2020 before recovering to 2.6 percent in 2021.

For example, goal 9 of the SDGs calls for building resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. In order to achieve this goal by 2030, it is essential to support LDCs, invest in advanced technologies, lower carbon emissions, and increase global mobile broadband access, the UN Secretary General’s report says.

Pointing out the challenges being faced by the LDCs, Dahal, in addition to seeking rescue package, also called for addressing the debt distress of LDCs by 2025 and providing coordinated and appropriate debt solutions in a timely manner.

Prime Minister Dahal’s call is in line with what UN Secretary General called for in his report on SDG. To ensure developing countries, achieve SDGS, the UN Secretary General had called for delivering an SDG Stimulus to the tune of $500billion per year between now and 2030.

The Secretary General has also called for immediate action to tackle the prohibitive cost of debt and rising risks of debt distress, scale up affordable long-term financing for development, especially through multilateral development banks and expand contingency financing to all countries in need, among others.

Prime Minister Dahal also urged the developed countries to scale up and fulfil their commitments to providing 0.7 percent of gross national income as official development assistance to developing countries and 0.15 to 0.20 percent to the LDCs.

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