IDEAS leaders traveled to Nepal earlier this month and learned much about different challenges in the country. From an environmental perspective, 5 categories stood out:

  • Waste
  • Population Density vs Municipality
  • Hillside Landscape
  • Public Education
  • Environmental Policy

These challenges can be applied to other sectors of the world, but the above combination is unique to Nepal. Let’s describe each category.

Waste is a problem spurred by humans beings. No other lifeform on Earth creates non-biodegrIMG_8971 IMG_5322adeable waste, since all animal byproducts fall into a natural cycle. When looking at Nepal’s waste issue, it’s important to consider the introduction of plastic into a handcraft society. Rapid urbanization in Nepal has encouraged the use of plastics. The challenge presents itself because the reduction, reuse, and recycling of plastics is not being addressed on a wide enough scale. Many plastics can be collected, sorted, and recycled.

Rapid urbanization is an issue in Nepal. Since urban areas offer more employment, development is spurring and IMG_8857 IMAG1416leading to disruptive amounts of issues. Energy is hard to manage, sewage is primarily septic tanks (or rivers), and roads have increased traffic. Municipalities have a unique challenge in Nepal.

The tremendous elevation change in the landscape proposes a challenge. Collaboration is an important tool for sustainability, yet transportation is
restricted in Nepal’s hillside. Many roads are carved into the side of the mountains, leading to long, curvy routes between cities and villages. Nepal’s mountains tend to have small mudslides that sporadically block the road. Tackling this challenge is one of the most difficult because of the collaboration of municipalities.

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Public education always has a connection to environmental sustainability. Nepal is unique because it is one of the youngest public education systems in the world. Besides reduced educational resources, schools often have puncuality issues. Teachers may not be in class on time, classes that should last 45 minutes often last significantly less, and adverse weather can cause the actual amount of learning hours to be drastically reduced. This challenge is particularly unique because younger generations of Nepali people are tremendously more literate and able to contribute to the public education issues.

Lastly, environmental policy is the paramount issue. Nepal’s government is in infancy since the end of it’s civil war in 2006. Many governmental issues are still being drafted today. Since environmental issues are heavily tied to humanitarian issues, governments can often solve both issues with the same policies. Air pollution regulation will also increase public health. Waste management can decrease unemployment. The list goes on.

Nepal is a beautiful land. As many other nations, it has its own challenges, but with the collaboration of smart people, inside and out, the immediate future can change for the better.