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“Our Common Future” harmonized development policies around a new sustainable development (SD) paradigm, and experts also emphasize the importance of a democratic and equitable approach to define and achieve sustainable development. However, SD targets and indicators are often defined by a suite of experts or a few stakeholder groups, far removed from on-the-ground conditions. The most common expert-led development framework, the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), promoted one set of targets and indicators for all developing countries. While progress towards these targets was routinely reported at the national scale, these targets may not reflect context-specific sustainable development. We evaluated the relevance and comprehensiveness of MDG 7 (environmental sustainability) for Nepal. Although Nepal has met most of the MDG 7 (e.g., forest cover, protected areas coverage, water and sanitation), on closer inspection these indicators do not provide adequate context for ensuring that these targets provide the intended levels of development. Simple forest cover and protected area indicators belie the dearth of ecological conservation on the ground, and water and sanitation indicators do not reflect the inequality of access based on poverty and regions. While the Millennium Development Goals align with broad sustainability concerns in Nepal, these indicators do not reveal its true development conditions.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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