Bangladesh is steadily working to attain the SDGs. Photo: Emdadul Islam Bitu/UNDP

 

Bangladesh, a forerunner in implementing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - the predecessor of SDGs, is well on its track to swiftly fulfilling the indicators, according to a report published by the government with support from United Nations Development Programme on 03 February, 2018.

However, it also underscored the need for improved international cooperation, increased participation of non-state actors like the private sector, and coordinated and combined effort.

 “We need to fully utilise all agencies who are working to achieve SDGs,” Dr Mashiur Rahman, the prime minister’s Economic Advisor, said at the launching of the SDG Bangladesh Progress Report 2018 – a first for Bangladesh developed by the Planning Commission’s General Economic Division – at the NEC Conference Room in Sher-e Bangla Nagar.

Noting that non-state actors, like the private sector, have an important role to play, Planning Minister MA Mannan said both public and private sectors and the media should put in a combined effort.

"We have already succeeded in electricity and health sectors. If the private and public sectors and NGOs work together, then we can achieve the goals by the defined time. We are performing well in attaining many targets of the SDGs. Now we need support and encouragement."

“This report will pave the way for more planned action to implement the SDGs,” the minister added.

In 2015, the United Nations Global Assembly set 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim for the betterment of humanity, and the planet.

It coincided with the launching of Bangladesh government’s 7th Five Year Plan allowing the country to integrate the SDGs with its economic and social development plan.

Three years on, the report published found that Bangladesh is performing well in various aspects including poverty reduction, gender equality, electricity, sanitation and annual GDP growth.

Bangladesh’s economic growth in the past years has created a more conducive environment for SDGs, but the target is to completely and successfully implement every goal by the year 2030. The government’s efforts are certainly commendable, but this mammoth task requires all hands on deck.

LEAVING NO ONE BEHIND

UN Resident Coordinator Mia Seppo pointed out that employment is the biggest challenge for Bangladesh in attaining the SDGs. She suggested further strengthening steps to enhance education quality, improve skills level, and mitigating the impacts of natural disasters.

“No one should be left behind,” Seppo added and commended how the report provided an honest discussion of gender issues.

”It notes that gender inequality persists in various forms, depriving women and girls of their basic rights and opportunities, such as to be free from violence by intimate partners and others, and to be free from discrimination,” she said.

Eminent economist Dr Wahiduddin Mahmud said: "First of all we need to provide quality education. We have to place emphasis on youth employment, health, increasing remittance, technology and industrialisation."

THE SCARCITY OF DATA

Dr Wahiduddin Mahmud also lauded the initiative and pointed out that this kind of report generates the demand for data creation and finds shortcomings.

Planning commission member Dr Shamsul Alam pointed out that the biggest challenge in preparing this report was the scarcity of data in Bangladesh. “We could only find data for 70 out of 232 indicators.”

UNDP’s Access to Information (a2i) Programme identified the problem earlier on and with support from USAID launched the SDG tracker, the first in the world, in 2017.

It aimed to create a data repository for monitoring the implementation of SDGs, to strengthen timely data and improving situation analysis and performance monitoring of achieving the 17 goals of the SDGs along with other national development goals.

Data is essential for analysing and forecasting future projects, and without proper documentation, many efforts may go in vain. Every stakeholder in the development sector must work together to reduce the data gap.

UNDP’S PIVOTAL ROLE

United Nations Development Programme has been a partner to the government in implementing SDGs, through numerous projects that aim to alleviate poverty, reduce gender discrimination, ensure education, protect the environment, and reach many other objectives that take Bangladesh one step closer to achieving every sustainable development goal.

UNDP’s goal is to continue to provide the infrastructure and resources that are necessary to take SDG implementation to every corner of the country, and ensure that every Bangladeshi citizen has a better life.

Over the next eleven years, it must be ensured that the country’s economic growth remains sustainable, and that it makes equal social progress. There are many private organisations working towards SDGs, and proper collaboration is needed to reach the goals sooner.

The keyword is sustainability, and no matter how much progress Bangladesh makes in a sector, it will have no effect on the country’s future unless it is sustainable. UNDP is working with government stakeholders, as well as other private organisations to ensure sustainable growth. 

Click here to read the SDG Bangladesh Progress Report 2018

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