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The road not taken.

Posted by NYCA Blogger on February 3, 2016

Prashanta Khanal

402145_2809549330747_538878640_nFeb 3, 2016- The oil crisis in the 1970s, and increasing pollution and traffic fatalities led many European cities to rethink their car-based urban transport system and made them prioritise mobility of people over cars. The limited financial resources in Latin American cities pushed the authorities to innovate surface-based transit system. The experiences and mistakes of these cities, if not the current blockade and fuel crisis, should motivate Nepal to make the transport system in the country less dependent on fossil fuel and more sustainable and efficient.

Smart mobility
Walking and cycling are the basic and most efficient transportation systems. However, they are largely ignored in transport planning. Conventional transport planners often make an excuse of not having enough space for building cycle tracks and wider sidewalks. But urban transport challenges are not merely about space, it is about priority: Private vehicles or people walking and cycling. Space will never be enough if mobility of private vehicles is given foremost priority. It is also about perspective and attitude towards cycling. Jeff Olson, a transport planner, wrote in his book, ‘The Third Mode’, that walking and cycling were often perceived as the third mode of transport (automobiles and mass transit being the first and second modes) and treated accordingly by the planners.

Conventional planners and policy makers often say that we are not Copenhagen or Amsterdam when referred to their cycling culture, but initially neither Copenhagen nor Amsterdam were bicycle-friendly cities. But if these cities, once dominated by cars and where most people can afford cars, can turn it around, even other cities and countries including Nepal can. The fact that most of the people in Nepal cannot afford to buy private cars and that the government does not have financial resources to build large road infrastructures such as flyovers and multilane highways should encourage the authorities to invest in making cities more cycle-friendly. And Kathmandu would be the ideal place to start as it has mixed-use urban settlements, which is already a basic criterion for making a cycle-friendly city. The average daily travel distance of the Valley is less than 5 km, which makes most of the trips cyclable. The only things required are safer infrastructures for cycle users, supportive policies and change in societal attitude towards cycling, most importantly of conventional planners and policy makers who are often fascinated by large transport infrastructures.

There is a huge misunderstanding among policy makers and planners in the country when it comes to building cycle-friendly cities. Making a cycle-friendly city does not mean that segregated cycle lanes should be built in every nook and corner or that everyone should travel on bicycles. Only wide roads with higher traffic require segregated lanes, and other roads can have shared lanes provided there are traffic calming measures for vehicles. The prerequisite is providing good network of safer spaces for people to cycle and giving priority to their mobility.

Moreover, cycle tracks and sidewalks are not just infrastructures; they are the rights of the users. Making a cycle-friendly and walkable city is far beyond a mobility agenda. It is also about creating healthier, more active and liveable cities. It is about building a more cohesive, equitable and democratic society. In fact, walkable and cyclable urban places are the cities of the future.

Electric mass transit 
However, after the fuel crisis the policy initiatives and discussions are focused on electric vehicles, but unfortunately largely on electric cars. Although electric cars are non-polluting and do not rely on imported fossil fuels, they are not sustainable urban transport solutions. Growth of private vehicles will remain the same even if all the existing private vehicles are replaced with electric ones. Thus, traffic congestion, expenditure and urban space requirement for road infrastructures, parking spaces, road fatalities, etc., will also remain the same, if not worsen. Of course, the government should lower the tax of electric cars, but the government’s priority should be on building affordable electricity-based mass transit systems. To ease the existing mobility problem, the government needs to operate large electric or cleaner buses with scientific route planning and reform the existing public transport system. However, just adding a number of buses in the existing congested routes without limiting car usage and freeing road space will not ensure an efficient bus service.

Building a metro train in the Kathmandu Valley is also being considered. Although metros can carry a large volume of passengers, they are ridiculously expensive and will require at least a decade to build and operate. Instead, the government’s priority now should be on building cost-effective mass transits such as electric Bus Rapid Transit system in a few corridors of the Valley, which will provide comparable services to metros but at a fraction of the cost. Most importantly, it can be built in less than two years and if designed well, the capacity can be up to 15-40 thousands of passengers per hour, per direction, which is well above the Valley’s passenger volume. It also makes surface transport more efficient and safer. In the long run, Automated Guided Train or Light Rail Transit might be required in high volume corridors, but building an expensive metro system now, just because it is a symbol of prosperity for a city, would be naive. The national priority should be to develop other infrastructures in the city rather than building expensive infrastructures.

Khanal is an avid cycle user and works on urban transportation issues. He is also a co-founder of Nepalese youth for Climate Action. 

This article was published on The Kathmandu Post on 3rd February 2016.

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Message to the global leaders from Nepal

Posted by NYCA Blogger on December 3, 2015

Jasmine NeupaneDear Leaders in Paris,

 This letter will be more of a question rather than a message from Nepal. And the question I pose to you is “Why should we think about climate change?” In a country with literacy rate below average, how are you going to proceed to carry out the endeavors for climate change mitigation? I believe, until and unless we are able to convince people about the importance of healthy climate, we cannot expect them to act for a clean, green and salutary environment. More importantly the greater quest is to make people realize that they are endowed with the responsibility to safeguard nature. And since I am from Nepal I would like to provide a brief account of where the issue of “climate change” actually stands for people here.

Nepal – recently devastated by earthquake, we are scattered. People have no shelter and winter is coming. To add insult to injury, our neighbor has been imposing unofficial blockade on us. We have no fuel to cook our food, no medicines to treat our pain and no means to travel to job. We are losing ourselves. And as the ultimate measure, we have started deforestation. We are clearing our forests to feed ourselves. “Do you think, in such a scenario, where we are struggling to keep ourselves alive, can we really care about climate or any change to it?” Despite being the student of agriculture today I am losing my integrity towards the issue as grave as climate change.

Today for a Nepali, climate is the harsh winter that is threatening to take our lives and climate is the rain that is striking on our bare backs and we have no shelter to it. To my farmers, climate change is shift in rainfall and late harvests. To my father, climate change is the feeling of indignation when he cannot have an orange from his favorite tree. My dad thinks he is deprived of his favorite fruit because of the industries in Europe and America. There is a general notion- If the developed countries are the ones to pollute the environment, why should it be us to save the remaining trees from our forest? Since we are from the undeveloped nations with green passport, we are bound to be ignorant, uncivilized and unaware.” How am I to fight this prejudice? How am I to change this definition of “development” which implies to the tall skyscrapers and radioactive weapons?

Dear Leaders, I know this is not only a challenge to me but a greater challenge to you. Here, I present the example of my nation. But today, every nation has its own pretext to marginalize the issue of climate change. To some nations it is the war at hand and to some it is the natural disaster. Some nations are still coveting for more land and more power. These issues were during all those world wars, which was not able to actually teach us anything, and it is today. The chain is never going to end. But it is crucial now that we realize, if we are entrenched by the petty bonds of society, religion, caste, patriotism and power we can never rise higher to peruse the big picture. Our ideas cannot culminate if we are intrigued by such trivialities that have no meaning after we are gone. It is high time to do something meaningful to appease the soaring climatic anomalies. The task of global awareness is onerous one but yes we have to do this today! And the responsibility is incumbent- in greater fraction, upon you!

I am not heard but you are given the voice. Today, I want you to tell the people of undeveloped nations as that of mine, that the scale for measurement of development was unjust. We are not the poor nations because we are more close to nature. But we are poor because we are not learning to use rationally, whatever little we have. Please tell my people, no tall buildings or gold determine prosperity. World has changed. People have seen development, how it works and now they are retracting from that very thing! Development is happiness in being ourselves and being close to nature that we are now and not something that is achieved at the cost of our land, air, water, forests and other species besides us! Please help my idea reverberate!

Today, you are the most powerful and eminent people of the world. It is your chance to prove that you are capable to bring the change. And today it is our chance to prove that we are capable of change. You are the ones who could really cure the myopic vision of every other human in the world. I pray your words to be the antidote to those who adhere to the fallacious mathematical concept of “Space equals to power, may that be earth or beyond!” I assure you, I will do my part. But remember, the whole world including our future generations are looking up to you! May strength be bestowed upon you and your minds to see things clearly, act transparently and judiciously! Let none of your decisions hurt our mother Earth. Let none of her child feel biased on the basis of riches. Remember, I will be watching you. And I will be hoping that you will address my question. I am Nepal.

Jasmine Neupane, Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science, Paklihawa Campus. 

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My letter to Global leaders and Negotiators

Posted by NYCA Blogger on September 12, 2014

reganDear Global Leaders and negotiators,

You have been negotiating with my present and future from 1992. You may not be alive till 2050 but I, my family, my children and my colleagues will be. But, will the earth be same as it is today?  According to science, if the GHGs emission continues to increase at this rate we might touch temperature rise of 3 degree Celsius by 2050 and up to 6 degree Celsius by 2100.The raise of 3 degree is termed as catastrophe to the country like Nepal. So, you have no right to negotiate with my life. You can’t let anyone demolish carrying capacity of earth. This is as an assault to us, polluters are unceasingly polluting and we are being a scapegoat.We are facing the disaster because of other’s deeds. Where is Justice, where is equity? I can’t guzzle your negation anymore. What if, my Grandchild asks me, Grandpa, how do the mountains look like, how were the glaciers? What if, they ask me see to whale, tiger, red panda and all that. Do you have any answer? Have you any solution?

There have been ample negotiations with very few actions; I won’t let you negotiate anymore. I will Act for the Justice. I will knock you every now and then for the Action.As agreed in Durban Climate talk in 2011, major Climate agreement will come in Conference of parties (CoP)2015.So, before the CoP 21, 2015 more than 1500 cities from about 130 countries are marchingon their streets to pressurize and push the global leaders for bold climate action. Nepal is ranked 4th most vulnerable country due to impacts of Climate Change So, how can Nepalese oversight this platform to raise their voices.  We in solidarity with global campaigners are organizing climate march on 20th September in Nepal.At that very day, thousands of Nepali of different age group will march on the streets of Kathmandu demanding our Right, demanding our future. I with my team will hue and cry, “We Demand Action, Not Words”. We will clamor at you to consider; “Climate Justice Right Now”.

UN Secretary General has called more than 200 head of the state to join the Climate Summit on September 23 in UN Headquarter, New York. We, team of People’s Climate March- Kathmandu will grab this moment and take this as a scintillating opportunity to send our voices to Prime Minister himself. Declaration comprising our demands will be prepared and it will be presented to PM so as to urge him to address the voice of Nepalese Youth as well. We will pressurize our PM to raise our voice in UN Summit in New York. We will urge for Climate Justice.

We share only 0.027 % of global emission but we are ranked 4th in the vulnerable list of Climate Change impacts.Because of other’s deeds wehave been smashed by some kind of disaster every now and then. How on earth this can be considered justice!Flood, drought, landline, mass wasting is like our regular clients. Our mountains are melting; we are not getting rain in time hence very low agricultural productivity, bio-diversity status is declining at alarming. Life is becoming more miserable as the day pass by, and you are still negotiating with our lives. Climate change plays an influencing role in development of the country like Nepal. Acc. to World Bank (2011), agriculture contributes 38.14% of overall National GDP which is mammoth number. But, due to the impacts of Climate, we are not getting as much productivity from agricultural lands as it have to.  Moreover, ADB report says that Nepal may loss almost 10% of its GDP by 2100 due to Climate- driven events like melting glaciers.

Unless and until we March on the streets of the country, there has not been any movement which has been successful.To Change everything we need everyone. Mass mobilization is one of the best ways to shock the entire system into action. There have been anti-war marches, anti-nuclear marches, marches for civil rights, and more. Globally On September 20 and 21st we are marching for climate justice.So,thousands of people will March in Kathmandu on Sept 20 to urge for positive change.I am Marching with the world because I care for my future, will you March with us?

 Regan Sapkota

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In Solidarity with Mr. Yeb Sanu

Posted by NYCA Blogger on November 16, 2013

Image

Dear Global Negotiators,
In the mid of 19 session of COP, in solidarity with the head of the Filipino delegation ‘Yeb Sanu’. I am writing a letter to you, yes I know it’s too tough and not being easy to decide but can’t keep my feeling any more. Above 7 Billion Peoples are waiting for fair and legally binding deal from ‘National Stadium of Warsaw’ by 22 of November 2013. But what you are doing?? Just fighting and blaming each other! Let’s not forget that we are the latest creation of this beautiful earth. Yes it is true we need earth, it doesn’t mean that earth too needs us. We don’t have rights to destroy this beautiful creation of Nature. I think most of us are aware about law and policy, that each and every people have equal right to live in good environment; means pollution free environment, disaster free environment and many more!

Last year in Doha, as the conference was underway, a massive typhoon hit the Philippines, killing 1200 people. The head of the Filipino delegation Yeb Sano then delivered a powerful speech: “Let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to take responsibility for the future we want. I ask all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”  But negotiators failed to give good decision to people who really care about our mother earth. As the talks begin in Warsaw this year, one of the strongest typhoons; ‘HAYAIN’ hit again the same land- Philippines. More than 10000 people are reported to be dead, making this disaster the deadliest in the country’s history ever. Entire villages have completely been disappeared and people are looking for food, safe drinking water and health facilities which are basic rights of each and every citizen. It has been proved that it’s an evidence of Climate Change. Now Mr. Yeb Sanu is in voluntary fasting, thousands of young minds are standing on his support and yes the Nepali youth like me! But, most of us are not along with him; we are just pretending and saying that ‘it’s a madness’! When, till when? You people come up with good decisions? After millions of people die or after collapse of this this earth!
In solidarity to Philippines I would like to ask each and every people to join us for our fight for CLIMATE JUSTICE. If the Warsaw will set us on a track to exceed our demand if it ensures a decade of locked- inaction the peoples including me say NO NO NO! Every single decision will affects to upcoming generation, including your son and daughters.  If government, rich and poor, do not agree to a deal, that protects the planet from being more vulnerable, safeguarding millions of our people from death, starvation, and forced migration, then where does our humanity stand for? You cannot ignore! This is a question, not only me whole the generation wants to ask you.

This is a 19th session of COP but till today why can’t you succeed to give rectifiable commitment??? Every year thousands of youth comes over the world to join COP with small hope, hope of good decision and each year we have to go back home with same sad face.
We are on a planet which has a problem caused by us, human being and we want a rectifiable decision now. If not it will be the biggest failure of your generation, there’s no point in waiting or hesitating we want climate justices any way…..
Last but not the least, youth or young people have to live longer with the consequences of current environmental decisions which you are going to give us for longer than you and you need to start right now.

Rajan Thapa
Nepal

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Think before you eat..

Posted by NYCA Blogger on June 2, 2013

I used to think all the people around map circle run away shouting about the environment used to think at that time there must be a big deal about the green dollars. By this time I recognized the final problem of environment at local level in my village. The rivers, stream are getting dry, the farmers are on dilemma with these disaster that strikes to my brain now. I am thinking the effects of environmental problem, effects of global warming and climate change. I found that the farmers will be more victim of these hazards, the lower class people will suffer more than rich ones, although the work is done by rich countries and rich people.
Let’s talk about Nepal’s rural areas only. The environment act like global warming, are making villagers about to cry. Neither rainfalls in time nor water flows in river, in spite of these the cultivated crops also get affected, due to hypo rainfall and hyper rainfall the yield in crops gets down, as a result starvation appears. The people in our country are illiterate or semi literate, others literate and educated are in foreign. Those who are in country think that these hazards are due to “kALIYUG” and it is due to “SATI LE SARAPEKO DESH” they don’t know the reason of these and effects of these.
If you are on the country, and if you are youth then it is your right and responsibilities to save the environment, it is your responsibility because you have to suffer from it in near future,MAO has said that “the world is of the youth” so youth should think about the environment, the matter is to change not only to think ,so youth should change the environment.
Now the amount of carbon is about to cross it’s threshold limit on atmosphere, the green house is showing its power upon us. The edible crops are being used to convert into energy on one hand which has two bad effects upon the people of Africa and Asia. One is the people in these countries are lacking the food, suffering from starvation and are compelled to die and other industries are blowing carbon on our atmosphere and we are suffering from the environmental hazards. It is the right to eat, it is also responsibilities to fee. This is not obeying as a result environment globally getting warmer and warmer in house itself, by personal means itself we can save the environment. Let’s eat healthy, lets sell healthy crops, lets avoid pesticides, we can eat less but eating pesticides is much more harmful than eating less food. Applying pesticides not only harm individual life but it harms to ecosystem as well. Pesticides used by farmer breaks the food chain/food web in ecosystem as a result imbalance occurs in living environment. The water resources near by us also get polluted due to this act. So let’s not apply pesticides on edible things. Let’s eat healthy food.
The present situation is due to human beings itself, it is not big topic to evaluate the present condition of environment, things is that how to fight with these problems and to identify the effects of these condition, how to make safe to others .individually one can save the environment if he/she continue to his/her daily activities without harming to the aspect of environment. His is what individual citizen can do to save environment, but this process can be solved in political way only in national level. The country should be forced to do those countries that are responsible in the measurement in the level of carbon on atmosphere. Every year by doing tree plantation is not an actual solution to save environment. All developing countries block the chimneys of the industries which are responsible for the leaking of carbon.
“Save environment  and think before you eat.”

Blog by: Bibek Gautam

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Think Eat Save

Posted by NYCA Blogger on June 2, 2013

In the words of UN under Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner” In the world of seven billion people, set to grow to 9 billion by 2050 wasting food makes no sense-economically, environmentally and ethically.” As turn off the lights” was a electricity saving campaign, “Think, Eat, Save “is a campaign set to reduce Food waste through the collective actions at different levels of producers, retailers and consumers.

I was shattered to know the fact that the food waste produced annually around the globe is more than enough to feed 900 million hungry peoples of the world. Also, every year 1/3rd of all food produced gets lost or wasted with a cost around $1 trillion (FAO) is another traumatizing fact. Until  few days back when I was unknown to these facts, after every meal there would be a piles of food left at the side of my plate, a lot of food thrown away from fridge everyday and  many more irresponsible activities contributing to increase the cost of food waste and the problems of food and nutrition insecurity. But, I am now on the move to contribute even a smallest portion as a consumer to reduce the footprint of food waste.

Although the consumer level food waste is not a severe problem in the developing country like ours, where the main is problem from logistic, managerial, and infrastructural challenges in the early stages of food chain from production to market. This is the story of every rural household of our country where we rest upon manual measures to carry out these activities and we do not even have effective measures to store the products. My mother explains due to lack of effective production and harvesting measures, she gains half of what she has actually worked for. I feel pity to see the small storekeepers throwing out the kilos of rotten onions and potatoes each day, which causes economical, environmental and also the issues of decreasing food security globally. Had there been an effective plans regarding effective production, harvesting  and stores stages developed by the  government, we would not had to face these problems and many of the hungry people of the country would have their easy and cheap access to nutrient supply.

But, in industrialized nations the people have a different story plot. The infrastructural, logistic and managerial challenges are aptly removed so the problems of production, harvesting and storage are of less significance. But due to advancement and development, producers, retailers and consumers discard the food that is still fit for consumption. Once one of my Facebook friend from abroad posted that she was eating breads like crazy,  just because they had the expiry date of the day after. Although she did her best to reduce her footstep for food waste, how sensible is this activity?  Why are we not rational enough to know that a few days expired food shall do not any notable impact upon us? Among these small level things, millions of peoples that are crying for each meal matters the most and just before we throw out a packet of food that has expired out of our fridges or cupboards, we got to visualize those hungry faces.

So, from this day we all shall contribute to reduce the food waste. Here are a couple of suggestions to trim down our food waste as a consumer. Firstly, we need to be a rational enough to think about all the possibilities that we can contribute to reduce our footstep. Think before you shop, get a whole list of needed things and consume accordingly. It is better not to shop for a whole month at once as things may get rotten within the time. While buying things, go for the odd shaped fruit or vegetable because they are most likely to get wasted. For packed food items, go for the ones which have approached the expiry dates. Apart from reducing your footprint it is more economic as well. Also another notable impact we can left is the awareness activities at local and national level so that both the parties will be contributing smaller or greater level to reduce their wastes. As a developing nation, more than 90% of our food waste arrives from the early stages of food chain; it would be more effective if we can draw the attention of government and policy makers. Hence, to left a prominent mark to reduce our footstep in  food waste, we have to think before we eat so that we can save for other hungry mouths and  future.

Blog by: Bidya  Regmi http://hyabid.wordpress.com/

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