Sunday, May 19, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

How is Bangladesh achieving the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Bangladesh Model for SDG localization can be the global standard for Developing Nations. This is the second part of a three-part series on Bangladesh and SDGs

Update : 22 Mar 2024, 10:40 AM

It is expected that the process of localizing the SDGs will play a helpful role in achieving the global goals. In determining the SDG priorities, Bangladesh has given importance to the actual socio-economic conditions, planning and implementation capacity, and people's aspirations. 

It is evident that an equal number of indicators from each goal of the SDGs are not included in the list of national priority indicators. Rather, the indicators are fully in alignment with the needs and reality of a country like Bangladesh. 

First, a small country with a huge population is always at risk of food insecurity, so sustainable agriculture is a crying need. This population can be converted into resources when there exists quality education. 

Second, Bangladesh is the seventh most vulnerable country in the world when it comes to the impact of climate change. Again, the inequality in terms of distribution of resources is huge in Bangladesh.  

Third, though the country is a role model in women empowerment, the data suggests that the economic aspect of empowerment needs much attention. 

And to maintain a sustainable economic growth, Bangladesh has no choice but to go for industrialization, infrastructure development, and, of course, innovation. 

Moreover, it is evident that good governance is an important precondition for sustainable development and thus, strong institutions require high importance for Bangladesh.  

Bangladesh has achieved significant success in the education sector in the last two decades. According to Bangladesh Bureau of Education Information and Statistics (BANBEIS) Bangladesh is making considerable progress in enrollment and elimination of gender disparity. 

However, according to the information of UNESCO (2015) Institute for Statistics, there is still a need for improvement in Bangladesh's literacy. The evidence suggests that there remain challenges in successfully completing the primary and secondary stages. 

Also, a wide difference is observed in the participation rate of general education and technical education at the secondary and higher secondary levels. Bangladesh needs more technically-educated citizens for effective development. 

Achieving the goals related to ending hunger and achieving food security requires emphasis on agricultural production. Although the agricultural sector's contribution to GDP has declined, agriculture is still the main activity and life force of the Bangladesh economy.

Bangladesh's progress in women's empowerment has been appreciated in the regional and even global perspectives. Although Bangladesh has made progress in political empowerment, there is room for further improvement in economic empowerment, especially women's participation in productive activities. 

According to the Global Gender Gap Index (2022), Bangladesh ranks 71st among the countries in overall consideration, but it is in the 141st position in terms of economic participation. 

Once the national level priorities have been identified, identifying local priorities to make a bridge between the national and the local level gains momentum. District and sub district level local priorities need to be identified to give the model a complete shape as an “SDG localization model” which emphasizes local geographical characteristics, problems, and prospects; social-economic culture and trends; and voice of the local community and capacity of public administration system while identifying the priorities. 

Through an extensive consultative process, one district priority indicator has been identified for each district. Once the district priority list has been finalized maintaining the same criteria, one priority indicator for each upazila has been developed. Therefore, at the local level, 64 priority indicators have been developed for 64 districts, and 492 priority indicators have been identified for 492 upazilas.

Some interesting glimpses from these two areas can give us an idea as to how relevant the indicators are with the locality. For example, Sylhet chose to bring 100% fallow agricultural land under cultivation as their district priority, while Brahmanbaria opted for reducing the death toll to zero from social and communal violence by increasing communal harmony, and Chapainawabganj wants to increase the employment ratio to 10% in production, marketing, and processing of safe mangoes. 

The priority indicators identified in the exercise are logical and backed by data and evidence. In Sylhet for example, vast stretches of fallow land are not under any kind of cultivation due to lack of interest of the owners and a lack of human resources. This is a wastage of available resources which needs immediate attention. Social and communal violence is a major issue in Brahmanbaria district which costs lives every year while the issue of mango processing is very important in Chapainawabganj.  

The analysis of the data suggests that out of 492 upazilas, 84 have determined their priority indicators by giving importance to sustainable agriculture, 70 upazilas to quality education, decent employment, and economic growth. 

Not all issues that seem important are being considered at the local level. For example, local stakeholders have given less importance to affordable and clean energy, reducing inequality, and responsible consumption and production, and thus haven’t been taken into account due to a lack of local capacity. However, it remains important to emphasize these issues at the national policy-making level.

Overall, in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, more importance has been given to certain issues at the national, district, and upazila levels such as education, employment and economic growth, sustainable agriculture and food security, and industry, innovation, and infrastructure development. 

However, the reality of climate change impacts could be taken more seriously into priority setting. It should be noted that the importance of a specific goal is not only determined by the number of indicators adopted under it, but also the importance of the adopted indicators. 

There are a number of countries trying to localize the SDGs in their context but very few countries have become successful so far. To this end, the experience of Bangladesh can be a role model for the developing countries which can open up an avenue for South-South cooperation.


Dr Mohammad Kamrul Hasan is a Researcher and Public Administration Practitioner. Email: [email protected]

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