Bangladesh is unlikely to achieve its sustainable development goals (SDGs) of reducing inequality, fighting climate change and establishing good governance by 2030, found a study by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh.
The report -- "Four Years of SDGs in Bangladesh: Measuring Progress and Charting the Path Forward" -- reviewed the progress of six out of the 17 SDGs adopted by the United Nations in 2015 to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030.
Of the six, goals of quality education, decent work and economic growth and partnerships may be partially achieved.
"Achievement of these goals will be challenging since the progress on these goals has been little so far," said CPD Executive Director Fahmida Khatun while presenting the report at a dialogue styled "Delivering SDGs in Bangladesh: Role of Non-State Actors".
The CPD in association with The Asia Foundation–Bangladesh, Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation jointly organised the event at the capital's Lakeshore Hotel yesterday.
A second report -- "Four Years of SDGs in Bangladesh: Non-State Actors as Delivery Partners" -- was also launched.
The CPD and Citizen's Platform tracked the progress of the six SDGs in line with a High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York last year.
The first report said SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 17 (partnership) were "going in the right direction but require some policy interventions to steer them towards their achievements by 2030".
SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) are "not going in the right direction and require radical policy changes and significant efforts from all involved stakeholders in order to reverse their trajectories".
"What comes out very strongly is that three areas are where we are not doing very well," said Debapriya Bhattacharya, convenor of the Citizen's Platform and distinguished fellow at the CPD.
"Any country which is suffering in the area of fragility of rule of law, and in the inequality issue and affected by climate action will never be able to sustain the other achievements elsewhere. So in order to protect other achievements elsewhere, we will have to address these," he added.
The review report said the situation of SDG 13 (climate change) looked most grim and Bangladesh had not created the issue and global initiatives were needed to reverse the trend.
The report said the number of households affected by natural disasters was rising and the figure was expected to reach around 30 million by 2030.
"The effects of natural disasters in the forms of economic losses to households and the economy, the incidence of sickness and injury, as well as the loss of schooling days are all at high levels, and expected to get worse in the coming years," it added.
The review report on four years of SDGs in Bangladesh said greenhouse gas emissions were forecasted to increase at faster rates in 2030, which would also be accompanied by warmer average temperatures.
"Overall, the analysis of SDG 13 indicates that Bangladesh is in a precarious situation with respect to climate change and has to take preparations," it said.
On the SDG 10 related to reducing inequality, the report said the prospects of achieving it appeared to be bleak.
It said the income share held by the poorest 40 per cent is expected to keep falling from the already low level of 2015.
"This will lead to an increase in income inequality in the country," it added.
Meanwhile, the state of the banking sector, which accounts for the largest part of the financial sector, is in a difficult situation.
Defaulted loan are at high levels, and they are creating a drain on public resources since the government is bailing out banks with taxpayers' money year after year, the report said.
On establishing good governance under SDG 16, the report said 10 out of a total of 23 indicators for the goal were going in the wrong direction.
Three indicators are in the right direction but required some policy intervention to steer it towards SDG target achievement by 2030, said the review report.
However, the report said murder, violence against women and children, bribery, and illicit financial flows were "all disturbingly high", and most of these crimes will increase in 2030 if they follow their historic trends.
On the other hand, reporting of violence is quite low, and reporting of detention or kidnapping is virtually non-existent except for high profile cases, it said.
There was no discussion of the SDGs in parliament but there should be whole sessions, perhaps meeting twice a year, on implementation and oversights by the government and the civil society, said Rehman Sobhan, chairman of the CPD.
"We are missing an overall holistic exercise by the government that can reach out to all the different players," he added.
Terming the reports rich contributions to global dialogues, Mia Seppo, United Nations resident coordinator and representative of UNDP Bangladesh, said it remained to be seen whether the reports led to changes in policies and in people's lives and resource allocations.
The role of the private sector goes beyond corporate social responsibilities and with non-state actors being in Bangladesh's DNA, closing the space for civil society actors poses a threat to attainment of the SDGs, said René Holenstein, ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh.
Iftekhruzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh, spoke on SDG 16 of peace and justice, saying that institutions have to be transparent while engagement with the government, despite being a challenge, will pay off in the end.
"We must practice what we preach…catalyse that in government institutions," he said.
Non-state actors contribute to the 56 targets of the six SDGs in question through micro level intervention and various synergies, said Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow at the CPD.
This includes use of the right to information act at the grassroots and providing low-cost solutions to deliverables such as sanitation. There is a dearth of appropriate data, which can be addressed through collaborations of non-state actors and the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics with adequate funds at their disposal, he said.