The introduction of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has redefined the priorities of the UN’s development agenda towards sustainability and country-led development. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) introduce a holistic and integrated framework that spans across most social, economic, and environmental dimensions.
Although the 17 goals with 169 targets range broadly from tackling poverty to creating meaningful global partnerships, countries are still encouraged to prioritise their action plans based on country specific needs.
In case of Bangladesh, a country that has repeatedly been cited as one of the most climate vulnerable nations, the impacts of climate change pose a significant threat on its economic growth and development.
While Goal 13 of the SDGs is specifically assigned for climate change -- “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts” -- the IPCC suggests that the impacts of climate change can potentially affect the achievement of all SDGs.
Considering the intrinsic relationship between climate change and sustainable development, it is essential to integrate the two streams of work to enable synergies and tackle trade-offs.
Globally, the main document governing all issues related to climate change is the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement, ratified by 160 parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), came into force on November 4, 2016.
The agreement is a historic achievement that brings together both developed and developing nations who have pledged to strengthen the global response to climate change. The Paris Agreement aims to keep global temperature rise well below 2C above pre-industrial levels while pursuing efforts to keep temperature increase within 1.5C, which will require a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by all pledged nations.
Bangladesh is a signatory of the Paris Agreement and, since its ratification, the country has already submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) and will be implementing what is now their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
The NDC is the Paris Agreement’s primary tool for enhancing global mitigation efforts and requires countries to share their emission targets and plans. Like all other signatory nations, Bangladesh is also legally bound to maintain ambitious NDCs and to report on its implementation.
According to World Resources Institute (2016), climate actions communicated in NDCs are in line with at least 154 of the 169 SDG targets, demonstrating that successful NDC implementation will also support the achievement of multiple SDGs.
The strongest areas of linkages between the NDCs and SDG targets are: Poverty alleviation, energy, agriculture and land use, forestry, infrastructure and cities, and human settlements.
All good things come at a price
The government of Bangladesh has already initiated the process of planning for implementing both the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. Under the Planning Commission, the different ministries responsible for each of the SDGs have been mapped out to understand possible overlaps between ministries which will facilitate partnerships where needed.
A separate unit has also been set up at the prime minister’s office to monitor and oversee the implementation of the SDG Action Plan.
Although Bangladesh has taken necessary steps towards the implementation of both the agendas, it is without doubt that achieving the targets of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement will come at a cost.
Analysis shows that Bangladesh will require an additional annual investment of up to $93.9 billion to achieve the SDGs. However, as of 2016, the annual investment stood at $59.5bn.
According to the country’s INDC, it has been estimated that, between 2015-2030, Bangladesh will need to invest approximately $69bn for climate action.
From a financial point of view, the government ministries and agencies alone will not be able to implement the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.
Domestic resource mobilisation is one of the main challenges for Bangladesh when it comes to combating climate change and achieving SDGs. The country needs to double the domestic resources to accomplish them.
As the country transitions to a middle-income status, access to International Development Association grant flows and non-concessional borrowing will be reduced, which will further strain domestic resource mobilisation.
While the role of the private sector is critical, private investments flowing from national and international sources have been stuck at a certain percentage of the GDP for the past several years.
The 7th Five Year Plan (FYP) of the government of Bangladesh recognises that about 77%–80% of investment needs to come from the private sector as public sector investment alone will not be enough to increase the gross investment needed in this case.
Penetrating financial barriers
In the past, Bangladesh has taken initiatives to fund climate action from its domestic revenue. This experience will be useful when planning for financing the implementation of the SDGs, which is to be funded mainly through the country’s domestic resources. However, the country is also working towards accessing international climate finance.
Under the UNFCCC, developed countries agreed to provide developing countries with $100bn per year to help tackle climate change through a funding body called the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
Bangladesh was one of the few countries that unlocked the fund at the initial stages and received $40m to conduct the Climate Resilient Infrastructure Mainstreaming Project. Recently, Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (IDCOL), a financing entity in Bangladesh, was awarded National Implementing Entity (NIE) status, which will create opportunities for local entities to access the GCF.
Bangladesh is a nation known for overcoming obstacles -- from being one of the most vulnerable to becoming a model nation, the country has taken exemplary steps for adapting to climate change and achieving significant economic growth in the past years.
Therefore, despite financial hurdles. if Bangladesh demonstrates good governance and accountability when utilising resources for both climate action and SDGs, there will be opportunities for the country to access both national and international funds.
At this point, considering that climate change is inherently tied with most of the SDGs and ensuring climate resilient growth is the only way to develop sustainability, future financial investments need to be focused on priority interventions that can expedite the achievement of climate goals as well as accomplishing multiple SDG targets.