In a crucial address at the 2023 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit in New York, Prime Minister of Nepal and Chair of the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known as ‘Prachanda,’ called for urgent global action to rescue the SDGs from derailing and to address the mounting challenges faced by LDCs.
Prime Minister Dahal began his address by expressing gratitude to the President for convening the SDG Summit and proceeded to deliver his statement on behalf of the LDC Group.
Highlighting the grim reality halfway to the 2030 SDG deadline, he stated that the world is falling seriously off-track in achieving these vital goals. The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and geopolitical tensions have exacerbated these challenges, especially for LDCs. According to the UN Secretary General’s SDG Report, more than half of the global population left behind consists primarily of residents of LDCs.
Prime Minister Dahal emphasized that LDCs are critical in the SDG agenda, with twelve of the seventeen goals and numerous targets explicitly recognizing their development challenges. However, he expressed concern that foreign direct investment in LDCs had declined by approximately 30% in 2022 compared to the previous year. This decline had severe consequences for essential sectors like infrastructure, renewable energy, healthcare, and education. Moreover, the average external debt of LDCs had surged from 41% in 2011 to 54% in 2022, threatening their ability to invest in the SDGs.
Despite these challenges, Prime Minister Dahal stressed that LDCs had not wavered in their commitment to SDGs. They had continued to mobilize domestic resources and strengthen institutions, but he made it clear that unilateral action was insufficient. He called on the international community to provide more substantial support for structural transformation and a sustainable recovery from the pandemic, including through the SDG stimulus package.
Prime Minister Dahal outlined several crucial steps to ensure SDG progress in LDCs. These steps included addressing debt distress by 2025 and delivering coordinated debt solutions, increasing foreign aid to developing countries, and meeting the commitment to provide 0.7 percent of GNP as Official Development Assistance (ODA) to developing nations and 0.15 to 0.20 percent to LDCs.
Switching to his national capacity, Prime Minister Dahal emphasized Nepal’s commitment to the SDGs. He noted that Nepal had integrated the SDGs into its national policies and plans, with a focus on poverty eradication and reducing inequality. He reiterated Nepal’s goal to graduate from the LDC category by 2026 and achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by 2045 while calling for support from development partners.
Prime Minister Dahal urged the summit to renew and revitalize the commitment to SDGs, fostering hope, optimism, and accelerated action to achieve the 2030 Agenda. His address underscored the urgent need for global cooperation and solidarity to rescue the SDGs and ensure that no one is left behind in the pursuit of a sustainable future.