The Asta-Ja Environmental and Natural Resources Policy Framework (Asta-Ja ENRPF) for Sustainable Development in Nepal

Article excerpt

Effective policy measures are necessary for sustainable utilization, conservation, and development of environmental and natural resources. In order to formulate effective policies, it is important to have a theoretically grounded, holistic, inclusive, science-based, collaborative, forward looking, and systematic policy framework. This paper presents the Asta-Ja Environmental and Natural Resource Policy Framework (Asta-Ja ENRPF) consisting of Asta-Ja policy guidelines and the Asta-Ja policy cycle for sustainable environmental and natural resources development and socioeconomic transformation in Nepal.

1. Introduction

Environment refers to everything that surrounds us and consists of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere (McKinney and Schoch, 1996). The dynamic interactions and interrelationships among these four spheres of the environment result in the "living planet" Earth. While natural resources include specific resource such as soil, water, plants, animals, air, minerals, wind, solar radiation, coal, petroleum, and natural gas; environmental resources include various service-providing natural systems such as atmospheric systems, climatic systems, ecosystems, natural habitat, and wilderness. Environmental and natural resource policies are key instruments for enhancing sustainable development and socio-economic transformation of a nation. Policies of a nation include several operational, regulatory, and financial measures including constitutional rights, acts, rules, regulations, plans, and guidelines. While policies guide a nation's developmental and resource conservation endeavors, they also define the roles, duties and responsibilities of governmental agencies, private businesses, common people, and other stakeholders in resource conservation and development. In addition, regulatory and financial policy measures demonstrate the degree of control as well as incentives for resources conservation, utilization, and development in a society.

Nepal's environmental and natural resources policy stakeholders include several governmental and private institutions as well as diverse interest groups including judicial bodies, advisory bodies, policy making bodies, corporate and local bodies, private sector organizations and NGOs, academic institutions, the media, and civil society (ADB/ICIMOD, 2006). While policy advisory bodies such as the National Development Council, National Planning Commission, and Environmental Protection Council that are chaired by the prime minister provide guidance on environmental and natural resources policy formulation and their legal frameworks, procedures, and policy implementation, policy making bodies such as the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources Environmental Protection has a mandate for policy guidance and issues directives to the executive branches of the government. The National Planning Commission is an apex planning agency and is responsible for formulation of the country's strategic plans and annual programs. Major line ministries involved in environmental and natural resource policy decisions include the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC), the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works, the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Irrigation, the Ministry of Land Reform and Management, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Local Development. Various departments and agencies such as the Nepal Agricultural Research Council and the Central Food Research Laboratory under the MOAC, and the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology and the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology under the Ministry of Industry are directly and heavily involved in the formulation and implementation of national environmental and natural resource policies in Nepal.

Nepal has enjoyed continuous assistance and support from several multinational and bilateral aid agencies on a large number of developmental projects including the drinking water supply, irrigation, rural roads, forest management, national parks and wildlife conservation, education, health, agricultural development, and policy decision making. …