In Nepal on behalf of UNDP
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon has commenced his visit to Nepal. The Crown Prince is travelling in his capacity as Goodwill Ambassador for UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and is accompanied by the Administrator of UNDP, Ms Helen Clark.
Crown Prince Haakon has conducted a number of field visits since he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for UNDP in 2003, and focuses in particular on the UN Millennium Development Goals.
After many years of conflict, the Nepalese are now rebuilding their country. The Crown Prince will be visiting several projects that are working to bring various groups into the development process in a positive manner.
Cruise AIDS fights discrimination and stigmatisation
The Crown Princes programme began on Monday in Kathmandu with a visit to Cruise AIDS – a community-based organisation affiliated with the Blue Diamond Society. The society is a network established to fight against the discrimination of sexual minorities, and receives support from UNDP, among others.
Nepal has achieved good results in combating HIV/AIDS. However, despite formal legal protection of their rights, sexual minorities and people with HIV face many challenges related to stigmatisation and unequal access to education, job opportunities and health services.
Crown Prince Haakon had the opportunity to meet representatives of Cruise AIDS, as well as individuals who have received the assistance of the organisation. Mr Sunil Babu Pant, the founder of the Blue Diamond Society and the first openly homosexual politician in Nepal, was the host for the visit.
Rights of indigenous peoples
On Tuesday morning the Crown Prince attended a meeting with representatives of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus at the Centre for Constitutional Dialogue, where he was given an introduction to the effort to ensure the inclusion of the rights of indigenous peoples in Nepals new constitution. Key issues advocated by the caucus include proportional representation of indigenous peoples and equal status for their culture, religion and language, as well as ownership and control of natural resources.
UNDP is one of the organisations supporting Nepals constitutional drafting process. A key component of UNDPs contribution has been to promote the broadest possible participation in this process.
Microenterprises in Nepalgunj
Later, in Nepalgunj, Crown Prince Haakon and Ms Helen Clark visited several of UNDPs projects in the local community. Together they officially opened the Micro Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) Enterprise Fair, where 100 microenterprises have products on display and for sale. MEDEP fair participants have received professional training and microloans that have enabled them to start their own businesses.
After the opening, the Crown Prince and Ms Clark visited a number of booths where they spoke with the entrepreneurs. Since MEDEP was founded in 1998, more than 52 000 impoverished individuals have received support to establish their own companies. Many of the entrepreneurs are women.
New mother and child health clinic
In the village of Kamdi, Crown Prince Haakon and Ms Clark undertook the official opening of the new Maternity Service Centre. In the past decade, Nepal has managed to reduce the number of women who die in childbirth by 30 per cent. Nevertheless, the maternal mortality rate is still too high. Better access to health services is essential to further reducing maternal mortality.
The Crown Prince met with volunteers and mothers-to-be at the centre, and expressed how impressed he was by what they have achieved. The centre will ensure healthy mothers and babies in the years to come, and is another step for Nepal towards achieving several of the Millennium Goals.
Meeting with private business
The Crown Prince ended the day with a meeting with the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industries. Using the fair opened earlier in the day as their point of departure, meeting participants discussed the challenges facing trade and industry in Nepal and the role of the private sector in achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.
About the UN Millennium Development Goals
In 2000 all the countries in the world agreed to establish common goals to eradicate poverty, and eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG) were formulated.
The general goal – MDG 1 – was to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The first of three targets under the goal was to halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than USD 1 a day.
The eight MDG were to:
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Develop a global partnership for development
At the end of 2015, significant progress had been made in all eight areas, and the countries of the world decided on 17 new goals - the Sustainable Development Goals.