Delivering SDGs: Country lags behind climate action, inequality, peace and justice

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Rehman Sobhan for parliament session to discuss SDG issues

The country lagged behind in three major areas such as climate action, inequality and peace and justice in the long journey of attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, said Centre for Policy Dialogue on Thursday.

The deficits would dwarf other achievements and make the entire efforts unsustainable, added economists of the think-tank.

They were speaking at a dialogue titled, ‘Delivering SDGs in Bangladesh: Role of Non-State Actors’. The event was organized in association with the Asia Foundation- Bangladesh, Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) at a city hotel.

Abul Kalam Azad, Member of Parliament and Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Planning was the chief guest.

CPD Chairperson Professor Rehman Sobhan also spoke on the occasion.

 Rehman Sobhan suggested for holding two dedicated sessions of parliament a year to discuss the issues involving SDGs.

“There should be full session of the parliament on the issue of implementing the SDGs and perhaps it will meet twice in a year,” said the economist. 

Prior to the session, parliamentary committee would undertake initiatives for a series of hearings, where they would involve representatives from government and civil society, he added. 

If the exercise was done, the parliamentary committee would report to the house in full, he said further. The hearing in the house would generate high level credibility for the state and its commitment to SDGs, noted Rehman.

 “There should be some interactive mechanism, where the government will not only indentify the sustainable development goals, but will also share responsibility with other civil society players,” said Rehman Sobhan.

 Dr René Holenstein, Ambassador of Switzerland in Bangladesh and Ms Mia Seppo, UN Resident Coordinator and Representative, UNDP Bangladesh;  Kazi Faisal Bin Seraj, Country Representative, The Asia Foundation – Bangladesh attended the dialogue, among others.

“Performances in criteria like education and partnership are relatively green, despite questions remain about their qualities. It is notable that we are not performing better in three areas. Firstly in the area of climate action that also involves global responsibility. Secondly, presence of inequality and third is the peace and justice,” said Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow at CPD.

  Any country, which suffered from fragile rule of law and inequality and climate action would never be able to sustain other achievements, said Debapriya, also Convener of Citizen’s Platform for SDGs. 

In attaining the peace, justice and strong institutions, CPD executive director Dr Fahmida Khatun suggested for upholding rule of law and ensuring access to justice, especially for women, children, poor and marginalized groups. 

She also stressed on building local and national capacity for arbitration, mediation and alternative dispute resolution.  

For combating climate challenges, the think-tank also stressed for scaling up adaptation measures to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change. 

Furthermore, to reduce inequalities the CPD suggested for  keeping a certain portion of seats in private schools reserved for children from under privileged families and providing free education to them. 

It also called for improving social protection programmes to minimize leakages and adverse selection. 

The think -tank also suggested that non-state actors be included with the process of SDGs implementation and incorporating them with defined responsibility as they could help implement the goals effectively.

“66% resource will be generated from the private sector. But their roles are not clear. Contribution of Non- State Actors (NSA) are closely involved with SDG targets and they are contributing to this,” Mustafizur Rahman, CPD distinguished fellow, said. 

On top of that, there was a fund constraint for the NSA, especially at root levels and if the government or the private sector partnership provided fund, it would be very effective to attain SDGS as they could provide data and implement agendas effectively at low cost, said the economist.