Appreciating the current economic growth in Bangladesh, the United Nations (UN) has laid emphasis on having an “inclusive” growth without compromising with environmental sustainability.
“It’s important that the growth is inclusive. It’s important that the growth doesn’t compromise on environmental sustainability,” UN Resident Coordinator in Dhaka Mia Seppo told UNB in an interview at her office on Thursday.
She said it is also important that the growth that Bangladesh is witnessing creates jobs, particularly for youths.
The UN official,who joined the UN in Bangladesh in November 2017, said all need to work so the growth continues to keep the whole country as its part involving both men and women.
“The journey that Bangladesh has struggled since independence in less than 50 years is remarkable. That’s something the country can be proud of. The country should take inspiration from that to move forward in terms of its development agenda,” Seppo said.
She, however, said there is a challenge around "diversifying the economy" and the challenge is around environmental sustainability and climate change.
Seppo, also UNDP Resident Representative in Bangladesh, laid emphasis on investing in human development that is required to reach the sustainable middle-income country goal.
“I think the investment in human development, skill development, in health and education is absolutely the key,” Seppo said.
Emphasizing the importance of addressing environmental concerns, she said some air is not safe to breathe. “That should be a concern for all of us.”
Talking about Dhaka’s air quality, the air quality should be a “wake-up call” for all and all should start thinking of it to have a smart, sustainable and environment-friendly city.
Seppo said some of the aspects in life which are not measurable in GDP but which is critical for human well being like the “air we breathe, the food we eat, the public spaces we move, the way we interact. The environmental aspects have to be kept in mind,” she said.
The UN official said the beauty of the country Bangladesh is known to be so green and it is known to be so colorful.
On the next election, she said they “obviously hope” it will be a participatory election. And there will be no violence though, she said, violence was seen in some of the previous elections and that is a concern.
“We hope to a commitment across all actors towards a non-violence election,” she said hoping that the Election Commission which has managed many elections in the past will be able to administer the process fairly.
“This will lead to a credible result,” said the UN official adding that it will be another good step forward in strengthening democracy in Bangladesh.
Seppo, however, said it is much more important that what is the expectation of Bangladesh citizens as it is their election, they cast the votes and it is about their future. “This is Bangladesh election.”
The UN official laid emphasis on implementation of the goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.
“So, it looks at fair and participatory peaceful and inclusive societies,” Seppo said adding that it is kind of important reflection of development course that has changed from MDGs to SDGs.
The UN official said the goal 16 is equally important for all countries big and small.
She said there are lots of good laws in place in Bangladesh which really need to be implemented effectively.
Seppo also said Bangladesh has a range of independent constitutional institutions. “It’s important that these are independent, and the citizens of Bangladesh have trusts on them.”
The National Human Rights Commission, Information Commission, Election Commission and Anti-Corruption Commission, all of these institutions have very important role to play, she said.
On freedom of media, the UN official said Bangladesh has a very vibrant media and it needs to continue having so in order to keep public engaged, keep public informed and providing impartial information on what is going on. “It’s important to have continued freedom of media.”
On implementation of new set of global goals –SDGs, she said Bangladesh should take inspiration from the MDG success.
SDGs are more ambitious agenda and these take much more concerted efforts involving governments, private sectors and civil societies.
“Bangladesh has done a lot (so far),” Seppo said highlighting issues related to financial needs assessment that has already been done.
Seppo said, “So, there’s a very good basis. I think it is really important to know what kind of social protection policy is needed to make sure that those are left behind are included.”