Statement by Dr. Henning Karcher, UN Resident Coordinator on the Occasion of the Launch of Nepal’s Millennium Development Goals Report

10 Jun 2002

Statement by Dr. Henning Karcher, UN Resident Coordinator on the Occasion of the Launch of Nepal’s Millennium Development Goals Report, 2002
Monday, June 10, 2002

Honourable Chief Guest, Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission, Dr. Narayan Khadka, Dr. Bimal Koirala, Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Shankar Sharma, Honourable Member of the National Planning Commission, Your Excellency Mr. Zenji Kaminaga, Ambassador of Japan, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have great pleasure in welcoming you all to the launch of Nepal’s Report 2002 on Progress towards Realization of the Millennium Development Goals.

The Millennium Goal campaign as we like to call it has in our view the potential to change the world.

In order to assess the validity of this statement it will be helpful to analyze how significant achievements have been realized in other spheres of life such as eradicating polio or abolishing apartheid. In each case the pattern is the same and straightforward. At the beginning stands a bold thought and firm commitment to realize a goal. This is followed by the formulation of objectives and outputs and underpinned by human and financial resources.

Regular monitoring of progress represents a key element of any successful strategy. Only if we examine regularly whether we are on track, take corrective action as appropriate and rededicate ourselves to our goals from time to time will we succeed.

If we apply these criteria to our MDG campaign we will find that it has all ingredients for success. Heads of State and Government of both developing and industrial nations made a solemn commitment at the Millennium Summit in September 2000 to join hands in order to realize the Goals. Steps have been taken to break down the goals into feasible and realistic objectives and outputs. Monitoring instruments are already in place and I am proud to say that our progress report for Nepal is not only one of the first ones produced globally but also recognized as exemplary. It will, therefore, serve as a model for other countries.

What are we setting out to do? The MDGs summarize the development goals agreed to at international conferences and world summits in the 1990s.

All of them are highly relevant to Nepal. By the year 2015 the following is to be achieved.
- halving extreme poverty and hunger
- achieving universal primary education
- promoting gender equality
- reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds
- reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters
- reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB
- ensuring environmental sustainability
- developing a global partnership for development, with targets for aid, trade and debt relief So what is new? Have we not seen the announcement of similar goals before without any impact on the ground?

New is the global compact that has been forged to realize the goals. Developing countries will do their part by implementing pro-poor policies and programmes, practicing good governance, introducing reforms and respecting human rights. Industrialized countries will in turn provide the financial resources required to implement the programmes and underpin the reforms.

Earlier in March this year the International Conference on Financing for Development was held in Monterey, Mexico. Dr. Bimal Koirala, Finance Secretary, attended the Conference and will share with us in a moment his impression of this unprecedented event. Never before have the nations of the world decided to join hands in a global war on poverty and want. I should also mention here that this war is not being fought out of entirely altruistic reasons. All nations realize today that inequality, discrimination and the denial of basic human rights breed conflict, violence and war. Violence and war do not stop at national borders. Ultimately the Millennium Declaration Goals campaign is, therefore, also a campaign for global peace and solidarity. H.E. Mr. Zenji Kaminaga, Ambassador of Japan has kindly agreed to add his perspective representing the most important bilateral donor in Nepal.

As in most areas of our work the process is just as important as the product. Our beautifully printed and bound report will be of little value if it ends up on the bookshelves. In this context it is important to note that the report was jointly prepared by teams from His Majesty’s Government and the United Nations in Nepal.

Dr. Shankar Sharma, Honourable Member of the National Planning Commission, led the Government Team and will share with you in a moment his insights into the process. On the part of the United Nations, I would like to acknowledge the excellent work done by the UN Theme Group on Poverty Monitoring led by my Deputy, Ms. Alessandra Tisot.

Follow-up will evidently be of critical importance. The report is already translated into Nepali language and follow-up workshops will be organized in different parts of the country to translate the findings and recommendations of the report into corrective action steps at the decentralized level. Deepening analysis in key areas will also be part of the follow-up. Let me revert for a moment to the Government’s part of the bargain.

At the Nepal Development Forum held earlier this year it was mutually agreed by representatives of His Majesty’s Government and the donor community that bold reforms led by the Government represent the key to accelerating development in Nepal.

The Government’s overall Reform Agenda, Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and Medium Term Expenditure Framework are important building blocks. Short-term reform steps announced only last week like prioritizing development projects, decentralizing education and health, civil service reform and enhanced transparency are definitely steps in the right direction. I am certain that the donor community stands ready to help provided reforms are implemented as agreed. And let me emphasize here that a distinction has to be made between short-term, medium and long-term strategies. While the short-term economic outlook is definitely gloomy with current economic growth not even matching the growth of population there is every reason to believe that better times will definitely come and that an acceleration of positive trends can be expected.

Many of you are aware of the UN Reform Agenda that is being pursued by Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, “Acting as one at the country” level lies at the heart of the UN Reform.

In closing I would like to draw attention to two areas where our UN Country Team has decided to concentrate our energies and resources because of their cross-cutting power and significance in the context of the MDGs. These are education of the girl child and HIV/AIDS. Failure to meet education targets will reduce the chances of reaching other MDGs. Basic education empowers a young woman and enhances her self-confidence; an educated mother is likely to marry later, space her pregnancies better and seek medical care for her child and herself when needed. Evidence shows that babies born to mothers without formal education are at least twice as likely to suffer from malnutrition or die before age 5 than are babies born to mothers who completed primary school. An educated girl is also the best guarantor that her children attend school – thereby ending the inter-generational transmission of poverty. Health investments are more efficient when the people are better educated, in large part due the adoption of good hygiene behaviour. In short, girls’ education is key to achieving the MDGs.

HIV/AIDS has been described by the UN Secretary General as one of the greatest challenges of our time. Evidence from Africa suggest that unchecked the epidemic can have a devastating effect on entire nations taking out the bread-winners of families during the prime of their lives, overburdening the health system, creating large numbers of orphans and ultimately pushing the economy into a tailspin. Again because of its cross-cutting nature and impact on the realization of all other Millennium Development Goal the UN Country Team has selected HIV/AIDS as our second area of high attention, concentration and cooperation.

In both these areas we look forward to joining hands with all of you and to the creation of powerful synergies.

As I mentioned at the outset vision, articulation of goals, resources and action are the key to success. The power to shape the future of Nepal lies in your hands.

Thank you