Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said the private sector needs to be taken on board to help developing countries plug the gaps in funding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Addressing a high-level discourse on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York late on Wednesday, the premier said achieving the UN goals has presented a major financial challenge for governments.
The PM cited figures from the United Nations Nation Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which estimate the world will need $3.3 trillion to $4.5 trillion every year to achieve the SDGs.
“Partnership with the private sector is critical for financing the SDGs,” Sheikh Hasina told the event held at the UN headquarters. “In Bangladesh, our private sector is coming forward as a strong and willing partner.”
The Bangladesh premier said it was encouraging to see that the private sector was taking SDGs seriously across the globe.
“The private sector already accounts for 60% of GDP, 80% of capital flows and 90% of jobs in developing countries, earning their stake and obligation in SDG implementations,” she said.
“Companies around the world are including SDGs into their corporate mission statements and sustainable business plans.”
Sheikh Hasina told delegates that her government had responded to the interests of the private sector by setting up a number of entities under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to mobilise increased investment for the SDGs.
The PM said the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority was working on promoting large investments with a focus on foreign direct investment (FDI), while the Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority was working to set up 100 Special Economic Zones in the next few years.
“Foreign direct investment in Bangladesh rose from under $1 billion in 2010 to $2.5 billion in 2016,” she told the event, which was titled “Creating a Policy Vision for SDG Finance Facilitating Private Sector Investment in the SDGs.”
PM Hasina thanked the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for recognising the potential for such investments and creating the UNDP Social Impact Finance (UNSIF). “This can be a useful tool for private finances to complement government and donor funding for SDGs,” she said.
The first investment of UNSIF will be in Bangladesh under the banner of the “Build Bangladesh – UNDP Impact Fund.”
“It adds to the list of many innovative firsts that Bangladesh offered to the world and the Fund will start with affordable housing, with the support of Chinese impact investors,” the prime minister said.
Earlier on Wednesday, the premier attended a high level side event on SDG Implementation, Financing and Monitoring.
Addressing the event, the prime minister stressed the importance of sharing the innovations of different countries through South-South and Triangular Cooperation.
“The countries in the South are often well- positioned to understand each other’s development realities and challenges. We, therefore, need to promote a deeper understanding and broader exchange within the South,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has innovated a “simple but powerful” tool called SDG Tracker, which can be used for comprehensive target setting and tracking progress of each SDG, along with the indicators.
“It is an innovative platform that takes advantage of the massive data revolution. With the launch of the SDG Tracker, we are making it available for countries in the South,” she said.