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Choosing Sustainability in a Developing Nation

By Ayush Dev Pant

I am writing this article from Kathmandu Nepal. It’s 23rd of May, 6 P.M and it is very gloomy outside. Half an hour ago there was a bright blue sky. By the time I finish writing this article, I expect a thunderstorm. I’ve lived my entire life in Kathmandu and I have never experienced such weather conditions on a daily basis. The Globe Is Warming.

As a citizen of a developing nation, I have realized that climate change and it’s impact is not an issue for majority of us. Kathmandu has not faced a climate change aftermath. We already have a lot to deal with in life and thinking about what is happening around the globe is not a priority for most of us. The way of life is so challenging that we choose to ignore the fact that global warming is killing millions of lives every year.

Nepal has been facing a political/economic instability since a long time. Climate change policies and actions don’t appear on the top of the priority list for now. The basic needs for the citizens of the country comes first. Nepal has a very minimal role to play in the global warming scenario. It’s the operations, activities and lifestyle of the ‘developed nations’, causing the Himalayan glaciers to melt. Rising sea levels could make thousands of islands from the Maldives to Hawaii ‘uninhabitable within decades’. These countries have very less carbon footprint, but they’re a victim to the act of other nations. It is definitely not fair when a developing country is finally making gradual progress and climate crisis decides to step in.

Agriculture was inclined towards sustainability in Nepal. Organic manure was the key to healthy produces. Today, the scenario is different. Competition is higher than ever and quantity has taken over quality. Organic manures are shadowed by chemical based fertilizers. Chemical based fertilizers not only downgrades the quality of the products, but also affects the pollination process of the eco-system. The farmers are not aware about this. Even if they were, sending their children to school would be a first priority for most of them and for that to happen they need to make sure there is maximum harvest. Maximum harvest today is a result of chemical based supplements. Our activities are not sane, but who do we blame?

Plastic pollution is one of the major problems of the century. A lot of sustainable alternatives are rushing their way in the market. But, it does not make sense to the people of a developing nation. A plastic based toothbrush can be purchased for Rs.10 and a bamboo based toothbrush costs Rs. 350. That price does not do any justice to our average income. There are a lot of retail stores in Kathmandu and plastic bags are used in every store. Most of them are not aware of the impact of plastic bags. Here, It’s Convenience Over Sustainability.

Awareness about the concept of climate change, it’s causes and impacts are not clear to us. Our education system does not support such content. It’s important for the younger generation to understand the concept of climate change and global warming because a developing nation needs a proactive generation of people who will enforce this agenda to the process of a nation’s development.

Developing nations have their own way of making sustainable choices. We use empty Horlicks bottles for storing pickles. Upcycling is in our genes. We tend to make maximum use of everything before dumping it. A torn t-shirt goes on to play the role of a wiper for years and years.

Despite all the inconveniences, there are a lot of social enterprises entering the Nepalese market. Waste Management companies like Khalisisi.com, sustainable agricultural technologies like Aeroroots, reusable bags from Hamribahini, Upcycled fashion products from Hattihatti Nepal. They’re just a few examples among a lot of other social enterprises who are bringing the sustainability wave in the Nepalese market. I myself run a social enterprise called ‘Revolution Project’, where we work with different companies in order to strategize and execute their CSR vision. We focus a lot on environmental sustainability (ES), mainly into tree plantation, plastic pollution control and ES workshops among school children. We aim to bring the culture of environmental sustainability in Nepal. It is not going to be easy, but there is no reason to stop.

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