Why Nepal is not invited to Biden’s virtual summit on climate change

American President Joe Biden last month invited world leaders, including Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China, to a virtual summit on climate change

Apr 16, 2021

American President Joe Biden last month invited world leaders, including Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China, to a virtual summit on climate change. At least three leaders from South Asia – Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India, Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh and Lotay Tshering of Bhutan - have also been invited. Nepal is not on the list of invitees., said The Kathmandu Post.

While some see Nepal’s exclusion as a diplomatic failure of the government, others say there is no need to make a hue and cry over the US not extending an invitation to the climate summit.

Nepal should have been able to ensure its participation as it has been leading several initiatives related to climate change in the past and the government is also planning to hold Sagarmatha Sambad, a multi-stakeholder dialogue forum committed to deliberating on the most prominent issues of global, regional and national significance including climate change, according to some former diplomats.

“There are some reasons why Nepal has been excluded,” said Durga Bhattarai, a former foreign secretary who has also served as Nepal’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

“Internationally, we are not leading any climate change-related issues,” Bhattarai told the Post. “Bhutan and Bangladesh, on the other hand, have made significant and visible contributions.”

Climate change experts also say Nepal should have been able to demonstrate its vulnerability and efforts it is making to mitigate climate change impacts so as to get a seat in the Biden-called climate summit, which is scheduled for April 22-23.

According to Raju Pandit Chhetri, a climate change expert and executive director of Prakriti Resources Centre, a non-governmental organisation working for sustainable development and environmental justice in Nepal, only big emitters and major climate change partner countries have been invited to the event.

“It’s natural for us to feel that we should have been invited. That Nepal has not been invited is not a big issue though,” Chhetri, who has been involved in international climate negotiations for several years, told the Post. “What is important is that the United States is now sending a positive signal by calling such a summit on climate change, which never became the White House’s priority during Donald Trump’s four years.”

According to Uttam Babu Shrestha, director at the Global Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies, a think tank based in Kathmandu, when the US, which itself is a key player in global climate change issue, is organising such a summit, Nepal should have been among the invitee nations as one of the climate change vulnerable countries.

But Chhetri said Nepal has not been able to show the kind of climate actions Bangladesh, a country severely affected by the climate crisis, has done over the years.

“Bangladesh has been a champion of climate change at home, and at regional and international levels. Nepal has not shown such a response, especially on the climate adaptation part,” said Chhetri. “They are the frontrunner at home and outside. Their climate action is commendable.”

Similarly, according to Chhetri, India has been invited because it is one of the largest economies and a major emitter of greenhouse gases.

“India is a growing economy and a global economic player. Therefore, they deserved the place,” said Chhetri. “Bhutan is currently the head of LDC group so it has been invited with that status.”


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