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Nature's contributions to people and the Sustainable Development Goals in Nepal

  • Biraj Adhikari
  • Graham W Prescott
  • Davnah Urbach
  • Nakul Chettri
  • Markus Fischer
  • Summary

Nature's contributions to people (NCPs) underpin the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but are declining globally. It is therefore critical to identify the drivers of changes in NCPs, and to understand how and where NCPs can contribute towards the achievement of the SDGs. By integrating the conceptual framework of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBESs) and the SDGs, we can obtain a better understanding of how changes in the state of NCPs support or hinder attainment of the SDGs, and how changes in NCPs are driven by development interventions. We conducted a systematic synthesis of the literature to determine the state of research on NCPs, trends in NCPs and their drivers, and the contribution of NCPs towards achieving the SDGs in Nepal, a low-income and highly biodiverse country. We found that NCPs contributed positively towards the achievement of 12 SDGs. However, NCPs were reported to be declining across Nepal, ultimately undermining Nepal's ability to achieve SDG targets. The major direct drivers of decline were land-use change, over-exploitation, and climate change. These direct drivers were linked to conventional development interventions, including agricultural expansion and the construction of road and energy infrastructure. However, some interventions, such as community forestry and protected areas, increased the supply of NCPs. Better integration of Indigenous knowledge and local practices was also reported to be effective in improving the provision of NCPs and contributing to improving livelihoods at local scales. We identified opportunities for further research in NCPs, particularly in increasing geographical representativeness and improving our understanding of non-material NCPs. Our approach of combining the IPBES conceptual framework and the SDGs enabled us to more comprehensively identify how progress towards the SDGs are mediated by NCPs and provides actionable guidelines for how to take more integrative measures to achieve the SDGs in Nepal and countries facing similar development challenges.

  • Published in:
    Environmental Research Letters, 17(9)
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