In 2015, following an inclusive consultative process involving 194 member states of UN, as well as global civil society and business sector representatives, UN member countries adopted the Sustainable Development Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals with 169 targets between them, under the title “Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
In spite of the fact that the SDGs are successors to the Millennium Development Goals, and built on both their successes and drawbacks, the difference between them is colossal. Seemingly, the difference between the MDGs and the SDGs is that the former dealt with the problems, silos, and development, while the latter focused on the causes of the problems, connecting the dots, and sustainable development.
In the case of Bangladesh, as pointed out in the Monitoring Profile October 2016 of global partnership for effective development cooperation, the government recently launched a groundbreaking social security strategy, and the seventh five-year development plan. Both are well-aligned with the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and the SDGs. At this stage, 14 of the 17 SDGs are fully reflected in the seventh five-year plan.
Additionally, a development results framework covers all the thematic and sector-based areas. And in 2015-2016, the government aligned development planning with the Medium-Term Budgetary Framework, considering that public expenditures evolve around development priorities. In fact, the development in Bangladesh is framed by Vision 2021, outlining social and economic progress to be achieved by the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence in 2021.
The main challenges for Bangladesh’s development relates to sustaining an enabling environment for private investment, strengthening efficiency and integrity in public sector governance and the judiciary, accommodating a quickly growing and increasingly urban labour force, and adapting to climate change
Under Vision 2021 and its Perspective Plan 2010-2021, two strategic country documents were framed within two national strategic plans: The sixth five-year plan (FY2011-FY2015) titled “Accelerating growth and reducing poverty,” and the seventh five-year plan (FY2016-FY2020) titled “Accelerating growth, empowering citizens.”
As documented in the executive summary of the seventh five-year plan (2016-2020): “The sixth five-year plan moved the nation from the somewhat investment-driven and resource dependent framework to a broader socio-economic transformation vision, unifying the various state and non-state actors with specific milestones and complementary roles.”
Importantly, such a move was intended to coincide with the successful conclusion of the MDGs, and to get prepared for the post-2015 agenda.
Bangladesh’s success in MDGs 1-6 was tremendous. The country has also made noteworthy progress in South-South cooperation, but the reverse is true for North-South cooperation.Failure in achieving MDGs seven and eight does not necessarily mean a failure in governance. Insufficient global cooperation and inequitable distribution of global funds in facing the challenges of climate change and environmental sustainability were evident.
The seventh five-year plan focuses on three generic themes: i) GDP growth acceleration, employment generation, and rapid poverty reduction;
ii) a broad-based strategy of inclusiveness with a view to empowering every citizen to participate fully and benefit from the development process; iii) a sustainable development pathway that is resilient to disaster and climate change, that entails the sustainable use of natural resources.
In general, Bangladesh has made remarkable success in recent years in terms of poverty reduction, gender parity, economic performance, and innovative work with the downtrodden. Entrepreneurship and the private sector’s innovation, consistent investment in human development, and notably effective natural and political disaster management, and combating terrorism have also helped immensely.
As indicated in the Asian Development Outlook 2016, the country’s goal of truly graduating to middle-income status requires much higher investment, robust development assistance, thorough effective reform initiatives so as to improve the business environment, boost budget revenue, reinforce financial discipline, and uphold a stable political environment.
The main challenges for Bangladesh’s development relates to sustaining an enabling environment for private investment, strengthening efficiency and integrity in public sector governance and the judiciary, accommodating a quickly growing and increasingly urban labour force, adapting to climate change, and managing substantial risks as one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.
Bangladesh is on the rise, there is no doubt about that.
Mohammad Rafiqul Islam Talukdar is a political, local governance, and development analyst. He writes from NIDA-Bangkok.