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Nepal’s Pathway to a Green Economy

 Trade and Biodiversity at the Center of Green Economy Talks in Nepal - Kathmandu, Nepal, 31 May 2011 - Examining the important role that sustainable trade of biodiversity products can have on economic development, policy-makers, civil society and business leaders are meeting in Kathmandu for a Biotrade and Green Economy Week from 31 May until 3 June 2011. The event, attended by representatives of Namibia and Peru, addresses both prospective policy measures and business opportunities in biotrade for sustainable economic development and poverty reduction.  

See Nepal's Country Study Summary

As Nepal is endowed with abundant biodiversity and natural resources, a major share of national economy and well-being of its people heavily depend on sustainability and the use of these resources. With forests covering some 29 per cent of the land area, their natural assets contribute significantly for livelihoods and food security. 

Given that Nepal’s bioresources in international trade are mostly naturally grown, it offers Nepal a competitive advantage in rapidly growing markets for safe, healthy and natural products. Accessing these markets, however, needs strengthening Nepal’s supply side capacity and ensuring sustainability of the resources. The Biotrade and Green Economy Week provides stakeholders with a forum to learn from past successes, including in Namibia and Nepal, and map out future business investments and national policies for sustainable and profitable trade of natural products. 

United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner, while speaking about the benefits of natural and organic products last year said, "Organic agriculture can trigger sharply polarized views,  sometimes presented as the anti-dote to modern, intensive agriculture systems or cast as a niche, luxury market for the few and the rich. But there is increasing evidence from Africa and elsewhere that organic agriculture can play its part in feeding the world and in meeting various sustainability goals, from water and improved soil quality to delivering higher levels of employment and conservation of biodiversity."

 The Nepal Trade Integration Strategy has included natural products as a priority sector for Nepal. “Natural and biodiversity based products are influential to reducing poverty as they help create business and wealth creation opportunities for most marginalized segments of the society. Integrating them into local and particularly international supply chains increases their income and profits while at the same time creating incentives for conservation of those resources,” said Sushil J.B.  Rana, Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies.

UNEP, with the support of GIZ, is providing support to three countries: Peru, Namibia, and Nepal, on issues related to trade and environment in pursuit of national sustainable development and poverty reduction goals. 

Stemming from this larger initiative on capacity building for biotrade efforts, the Biotrade Week is a combined effort of Nepal’s Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MOCS), the Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources (ANSAB), GIZ, UNEP, and UNCTAD.

 The four day event which began with presentations on national case studies in a workshop on Biotrade and Green Economy, is being hosted by ICIMOD. The following days will include a business dialogue for the export and trade sectors, a briefing with high-level officials, and a donor roundtable, concluding with a workshop on the role of media in promoting biotrade in a green economy.