Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great honor and pleasure to participate in this important global Forum and express my views on a topic of critical importance in our time. I express my sincere thanks to the organizers of this side event for giving me an opportunity to speak on a theme which we all value. May I also take this opportunity to extend my warm felicitations to all eminent fellow speakers and distinguished participants present here at this event.
A symbiotic and mutually enriching relationship with nature is necessary to ensure sustained economic growth and development as well as promotion of welfare among all people. There are limits to exploiting the various resources we have received as a boon from Mother Nature. Giving serious attention to the sustainable use of all endowments of nature means we must not only consider the health of our economic growth, but must also meet the needs of the present and future generations of the world in a sustainable manner.
In the traditional culture of Nepal (Hinduism), we symbolically worship virtually all components of nature: air, water, earth, mountains as well as the sun, moon and stars. I think this kind of culture is common everywhere in some or the other form, but its force is moral, and voluntary. I believe that we should value this respect for nature as a respect for ourselves and our future. In the pursuit for collective economic growth and development, and individual progress and prosperity, we often fail to give due regard to the health of nature which is our common home. Due to accumulated effects from such neglects, we have invited various problems such as pollution of air and water, degradation of environment, loss of forests and ecological habitats, disasters and catastrophic events of various magnitudes and proportions.
In recent years, we have seen ominous onslaughts of climate change which defies national borders and has become a global threat. If we do not contain these negative trends and prepare ourselves, their impacts will ruin us and our future prospects. My country, Nepal, is especially vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change and our people have been suffering considerably, recently again, with the loss of lives and property due to landslides and floods in particular. Potential earthquakes and the melting of our glaciers and the consequences resulting from it are also worrisome and we need to be prepared.
I am hopeful that the global initiative for sustainable development will bear fruits for everybody living on this planet. People suffering from poverty, marginalization and deprivation need to be considered as a priority and have to be brought into an inclusive development process. We all need to work seriously to integrate all three dimensions of sustainable development, namely: economic development, social and human development and environmental protection in a balanced manner. We need to create a harmonious relationship between these dimensions and cannot just go in one direction only.
I am very glad that the People’s Republic of China has taken serious initiatives to promote the concept of ecological civilization as a global movement. The leadership and people of China deserve appreciation for this noble initiative which can play an instrumental role in re-establishing the symbiotic relationships of mutual respect between people and nature. If we take lessons from our past deeds, we have to undo pollution of water sources and atmosphere and stop degradation of land and the entire natural environment around us. We also need to rethink our development paradigm and make it more environment-friendly and inclusive as well as people-centric.
As exploitative practices are not acceptable, deriving benefits from nature should follow humanistic and democratic principles. Personal ambitions for increased wealth and prosperity may have no problem if they are ethical in relation to society and nature. But we should not forget that thinking for others and sharing with others makes us richer and happier. Unhealthy competition blinds our eyes even though the earth has still bountiful things to offer to meet human needs.
Ancient civilizations respected nature and the environment around them and lived harmoniously together. In our time, we are living in a globalized and interconnected world. The prospects and challenges that lie before us therefore have effects on everybody. We need more good examples and best practices to follow and avoid anything that harms us and our immediate environment.
Increasing evidence indicates that climate change is anthropogenic and a threat to survival if not controlled with appropriate measures. It gives a clarion call for collective action. Putting the concept of ecological civilization into reality can be an answer to a myriad of challenges brought about by global climate change. The question is how dedicated and participative we are to achieve an early and seamless transformation of the economy into a clean and green energy regime without affecting the pace of economic growth and the rising demands for goods and services.
In Nepal, we have seen this green transformation in the development of hydropower, tourism and agriculture, all of which show promising potentials. Other countries may have similar or other prospects that contribute to global growth. We have to come forward in a spirit of togetherness to achieve shared peace, progress and prosperity. I believe that the global post-2015 development agenda and sustainable development goals must adequately reflect a common solution to all the burning needs of our time in an inclusive manner.
Promotion of peace and stability in societies and nations through collaborative means contributes to global peace and security, which is a prerequisite for sustainable development that all of us want. The late Prime Minister G. P. Koirala had an astute political vision in this direction. He is credited for having spearheaded a peace process that has paved the way towards building a democratic and inclusive society in the interest of all Nepalese. On the foundation he laid, we are now in the final stage of making a democratic and inclusive constitution through a new Constituent Assembly, thereby opening broader avenues for development where all Nepalese can march ahead together with a sense of ownership and pride.
Finally, I would like to thank my friend Prof Dr Jiang Mingjun and IESCO (International Ecological Safety Collaborative Organization) for having chosen a topic of much relevance in the present time for discussion at this event. China’s rise as a great Asian economic and political power has given it additional responsibilities both at the regional and global levels. I am confident that China will respond to these responsibilities in an effective and efficient manner, leading the transformation towards a modern ecological civilization. In my view, our current pursuit is to advance with an economic growth and development agenda that takes local possibilities into account along the lines of green growth. This can be done by infusing this pursuit with resources and technology available in various parts of the interconnected world.