Published in The Financial Express on Friday, 1 December 2017
Professor Abdul Bayes, Director, Research and Evaluation Division, BRAC
It is good to see that a citizen’s platform has been created to see that SDGs in Bangladesh context succeeds, and succeeds well. The importance of the platform lies in the fact that the realisation of the goals is an uphill task and the government alone cannot carry them fruitfully forward.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are also known as the Global Goals. On 25 September 2015, ‘countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda’. Comprising 17 Goals and built on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, SDG goals are interconnected and covers new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities.
Suffice it to say, achievements of the goals will require different sectors and actors to work together in an integrated manner by pooling financial resources, knowledge and expertise. Ipso facto, successful implementation of SDGs globally and locally requires both state and non-state actors’ participation with an eye on the broader perspective of sustainability. It goes much further than the MDGs by addressing the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people. “In this backdrop, SDGs will need to gather all implementation concerns and channel thinking about “how” the new agenda can hit unequivocally by distinguishing group-based hindrances that need progress in mainstream development.”Leaving No One Behind” theme of addressing SDGs, is thus considering segments of the population who lack effective participation in gaining economic benefits and are left unheard”.
Not government alone but a partnership with government of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), civil society, development partners and private organizations involved in implementing the SDGs nationwide requires more comprehensiveness and solidarity in order to make it meaningfully sustainable.
Keeping this in mind and also being encouraged by the two features of SDGs such as transformative and inclusive and remaining committed to implementing SDGs, a group of individuals in Bangladesh has taken an initiative to set up the citizen’s platform for SDGs, Bangladesh with the objective to contribute to the delivery of the goals and enhance accountability in the implementation process. With a core group and 62 partner organizations, the platform is actively working in implementing SDGs throughout the country since 2016.
“The citizen’s platform provides an opportunity to track the progress of SDG delivery; sensitize policymakers towards challenges in implementation; bring transparency in the implementation process; and, facilitate exchange of information and coordination among all those working on the SDGs in Bangladesh. The platform also facilitates relevant stakeholders to work for the poor and marginalised e.g. ethnic groups, physically challenged etc., particularly for achieving SDG 16”.
In order to increase collaboration among different stakeholders that will lead to future partnerships in achieving SDGs the citizen’s platform strongly felt the need to organize a conference on SDGs. The conference titled “Citizen’s Conference on SDGs in Bangladesh” aims to enhance the understanding of SDGs at all levels in the spirit of Leave No One Behind (LNOB) through sharing the report on it which is currently being prepared by the platform secretariat.
The first ever citizen’s conference on SDGs in Bangladesh will address three broad objectives – (a) Create awareness throughout the country regarding SDGs in the spirit of LNOB.; (b) Develop more clarity and cohesion among the NGOs in the implementation process in SDGs and (c) Explore further opportunities for government-NGO partnership in Bangladesh.
The “Citizen’s Conference on SDGs in Bangladesh will be the first ever organized conference on SDGs since the 2030 Agenda has been adopted. The major outcome following this conference is to expand the idea of SDGs and help making implementation smooth both at national and local levels along with achieving long term partnership among different state and non-state stakeholders. Followings are the two expected outcomes of the conference: Enhanced understanding on SDGs at all levels in the spirit of LNOB and identify ways to go forward in implementing the SDGs; Future partnerships developed among governments, non-government, civil society, private organizations and development partners to work together towards achieving SDGs in Bangladesh; Increase awareness on SDGs among people at all levels”.
The Citizen’s Conference on SDGs in Bangladesh will be a public event. It will be attended by government and non-government officials of different levels, representatives of broader civil society, development partners, private organizations, volunteers and or promoters of SDGs in society and media. The conference will particularly encourage participation of the vulnerable groups such as – women, youth, and marginalized groups.
The conference will be organized by the Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh, in consultation with the core group members and under the guidance of and the advisory body of the platform. The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and the secretariat of the platform will be responsible for execution of the planned conference. Representatives of the UN system such as the UNDP will be one of the alliances. Last but not least partners of the Citizen’s Platform will play an important role in bringing the conference to its successful completion.
Exploring SDGs in the Bangladesh context will require a number of steps. Group interaction sessions will be organized in order to identify and discuss the challenges and developments of different sectors affecting the implementation of SDGs. These group discussions will be carried out under three separate themes such as: a) Economic issues (Businesses, Poverty, Employment and Technology); b) Social issues (e.g. Education, Health, Gender and Youth); and c) Environmental issues (Urbanization, Climate Change etc.). In all three themes participants will explore different issues affecting SDG implementation, provide a new narrative and will come out with suggestions/solutions. Relevant experts will moderate the sessions. Each session will be participated by different NGOs (including partners), civil society representatives, development partners, private organizations, volunteers and other relevant invitees. Group discussion sessions will be followed by a plenary where rapporteurs’ reports from the three sessions will be presented to discuss the major issues identified under different themes. An interactive discussion among all the groups and panellists will further elaborate those issues.
Abdul Bayes is a former Professor of Economics at Jahangirnagar University