Nepal has secured third position in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Index among South Asian nations, indicating the country is better-off in attaining the United Nations-backed targets within 2030 than many others in the neighbourhood.

Nepal trails Sri Lanka and Bhutan in the index, but has performed better than India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The index has not covered the Maldives.

Although Nepal’s performance in the South Asian league table was strong, it lags behind in the global index–which covers 157 of the 193 UN member states–securing 105th position.

Nepal secured this position by obtaining an overall score of 61.6, according to the SDG Index and Dashboards Report 2017 titled ‘Global Responsibilities: International Spillovers in Achieving the Goals’ released on Thursday.

This score indicates the country, on average, has travelled 61.6 percent of the way towards attaining all the SDGs.

SDGs-a follow-up on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expired at the end of 2015-are a set of 17 goals and 169 targets covering a broad range of sustainable development issues. These goals have to be achieved by all UN member states by 2030.

One of the primary objectives of SDGs is to end poverty and hunger from the world. SDGs also aim to promote well-being of all the people, sustainable industrialisation, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and employment and decent work for all.

Other goals include: reducing inequality; making cities inclusive, safe and resilient; ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns; and taking urgent actions to combat climate change and its impacts.

In short, SDGs aim to bridge all forms of inequality, raise access to basic public services, ensure access to justice and promote sustainable economic development.

Although the latest report has placed Nepal in a better position than many other South Asian nations in terms of proximity to the global goals, the country still needs to make lots of efforts to meet targets related to ending hunger (Goal 2), promoting good health and wellbeing (Goal 3), ensuring access to affordable and clean energy (Goal 7), and promoting decent work and economic growth (Goal 8), says the report jointly prepared by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German social responsibility foundation, and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a group that works with the UN to promote the SDGs.

Nepal also needs to put in lots of effort to build resilient industry, promote sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation (Goal 9), create sustainable cities and communities (Goal 11), and promote peace, justice and strong institutions (Goal 16).

The report acknowledges that poorer countries, like Nepal, tend to be closer to the bottom of the rankings, as they lack adequate infrastructure, and the mechanisms needed to manage key environmental issues that are the focus of other SDGs.

Also, rich countries tend to generate adverse “spillovers” that hinder the ability of poorer countries to achieve the SDGs.

“For example, the high consumption levels, banking secrecy and tax havens, and weapons exports, by the rich countries may severely inhibit sustainable development in poorer and more vulnerable countries,” says the report.

This calls for considerable global assistance to supplement national leadership, says the report. This assistance, according to the report, should come in many forms: foreign direct investment, global tax reform to enable the poor countries to fight tax evasion by international investors, technology sharing, capacity development, and more official development assistance.

“International finance makes important contributions to countries’ development and constitutes a positive spillover effect,” says the report, adding, “One critical measure of development finance included in the SDG Index is official development assistance. We assume that all high-income countries should aim for the internationally agreed threshold of providing 0.7 percent of gross national income in official development assistance.”

Published: 08-07-2017 08:28