As Nepal and the world face unprecedented risks and hardships due to the coronavirus, we are all rightly focussed on immediate responses to the pandemic. The crisis highlights how vulnerable we all are to over-exploitation of our natural environment, and the increase in the risk of transmission of animal disease.
As we mark World Environment Day on Friday 5 June with the theme ‘biodiversity’, our attention is drawn to reduce such vulnerabilities and to use economic recovery efforts to ‘build back greener’. This is particularly important for Nepal, whose economy is highly reliant on natural resources, whether in agriculture, forestry, hydropower or nature-based tourism.
Nepal’s post-pandemic green revival, Kunda Dixit
All four sectors have been impacted adversely by the coronavirus lockdown, adding to existing environmental pressures and creating real hardships for millions. For example, the cancellation of Mt Everest climbing and trekking has brought the economies of towns like Namche Bazar to a grinding halt, adding to the existing risks from climate change.
“As the government forges efforts to build back the economy amidst the coronavirus crisis, these are important times to think ahead and consider options that enable us to also build back greener and better,” says Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Manager for Nepal. “This will help contribute to the sustainable development of Nepal in ensuring long-term social, economic and environmental co-benefits to build prosperity and resilience of Nepalis.”
Growing back greener may seem to be something for the future, given that millions of Nepalis are currently concerned about the loss of their livelihoods. However, there is increasing consensus that growing back greener can generate jobs now — while ensuring that the recovery is sustainable.
Here are five reasons why this approach is very applicable to Nepal: