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Speakers at CDF conference: Local governments, MFIs major players in achieving SDGs

  • Published at 10:46 pm February 7th, 2019
Planning Minister MA Mannan addresses a conference titled 'NGO-MFIs in Bangladesh: Local Level Partners of SDGs Implementation', held at the CIRDAP International Conference Center in Dhaka on February 7, 2019 Courtesy

They said that SDGs can be attained only if local actors fully participate in implementation, agenda-setting and the monitoring process

Economists and microfinance experts yesterday said that local government and microfinance institutions (MFIs) are major players capable in significantly contributing to achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs).

They made the comment while speaking at a conference titled “NGO-MFIs in Bangladesh: Local Level Partners of SDGs Implementation”, organized by the Credit and Development Forum (CDF) at the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP) International Conference Center in Dhaka.

In his keynote presentation, Executive Director of the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development (InM) Mustafa K Mujeri, said localizing development is a process to empower all local stakeholders, aimed at making sustainable development more responsive, "and therefore, relevant to local needs and aspirations".

Mustafa also said that SDGs can be attained only if local actors fully participate, not only in implementation, but also in the agenda-setting and monitoring process.

"Participation requires all relevant actors to be involved in the decision-making process—through consultative and participative mechanisms—at both local and national levels," he added.

Mustafa that SDGs constitute an important part of the backdrop against which much of the NGO-MFIs' work takes place. "This should be reflected in the evolution of work programs of the NGO-MFIs, identifying opportunities to contribute to SDGs implementation.

"An effort to integrate SDG perspectives across the NGO-MFIs’ works may also imply revisiting existing thematic strategies to make them ‘SDG-aware’ and ensure that they support the achievement of SDGs where relevant," opined the InM executive director.

Speaking at the conference as the chief guest, Planning Minister MA Mannan said that the government would like to move forward by working with all concerned stakeholders. "So fairness and inclusion are needed to achieve SDGs by 2030."

He opined, however, that excessive rules and regulations in the country sometimes "create barriers in moving forward".

"The government is emphasizing on ensuring electricity for all as it is the main barrier against inclusive development," Mannan explained, adding that the government has already introduced "rent-based electricity plants", so that everybody can now "get electricity".

The planning minister also said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wants to do more to create equality in the country, adding: “However, it is not possible for the government to do so alone. So, everybody should come forward in this regard."

Former central bank governor Atiur Rahman, who attended as special guest at the conference, said financial inclusion is "vital to achieve SDGs".

Informing about the objectives of the conference, Executive Director of CDF Md Abdul Awal said: “As it is not possible for the government alone to achieve SDGs by 2030, we [the NGOs] are trying to provide root-level support to the government to achieve the goals soon.”

Another participant, Economics Professor at the Dhaka University Momtaz Uddin Ahmed, suggested clarifying the concept of sustainable development and SDGs, and called for  clarifying policies for sustainable development to "the people, local organizations, community leaders, and all other stakeholders".

Chairman of CDF Murshed Alam Sarker presided over the conference, while Vice Chairman Iqbal Ahmed delivered the introductory speech.