Can a developing country ‘build back better’?


Researcher Sijal Pokhrel.

Globally there are signs that some countries are taking policy decisions that will advance sustainable development post-Covid-19, including the United States under the new Biden administration, but as a non-expert I feel pretty confident to say the evidence is inconclusive that the world will be on a greener path.

So given how hard it seems to be for rich countries to turn that corner, it seems unlikely that a ‘developing’ country like Nepal could make it happen. Although it was progressing before the pandemic, the challenges were enormous and included climate change (evidenced by melting glaciers) high unemployment that was sending more and more young people abroad to find work, and stalled progress in terms of mother and child health after decades of impressive results.

A recent study does find that the pandemic will slow the South Asian country’s attempts to reach the global Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, but it also identifies some bright spots. The caveat, noted by researcher Sijal Pokhrel, one of the study’s researchers, on a recent episode of the Nepal Now podcast, is that the window of opportunity is small — governments and other actors need to act fast to transition toward a more sustainable future.

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