We, the citizens of Bangladesh, inspired by the spirit of our great War of Liberation and in response to the call by the Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh, have assembled here today at the event “Citizen’s Conference 2017: SDGs Implementation in Bangladesh” with the commitment to ‘Leave No One Behind’ in the process of implementation of the Agenda 2030. More than one hundred non-government organizations (NGOs) and private sector bodies – associated with the Platform, as also thousands of people and hundreds of institutions from across the country, have joined us in our today’s collective endeavour.
Based on our success in the MDGs, Bangladesh is moving forward towards achieving the SDGs. Over the last decades, the government of Bangladesh has taken a number of initiatives towards the overall development of the country. Nonetheless, because of the absence of appropriate laws and lack of implementation of existing laws, corruption and, above all, social inhibitions and negative mindset, citizens of the country are not being able to access in equal measures the opportunities of better lives and livelihoods. Majority of citizens are not being able to benefit from their rightful share of national achievements.
Consequently, inequalities – in their diverse manifestation – have not come down; rather vulnerabilities of the marginalised and the deprived are on the rise. Whereas, the SDGs have made a firm commitment to “Leave No One Behind”. We are firm in our commitment to implement this ambitious aspiration in the context of Bangladesh.
Due to the existing economic, social and environmental disparities, the ambition of attaining inclusive growth in Bangladesh is facing enormous challenges. A close examination reveals that vulnerabilities of the people get aggravated due to lack of education and skills, inadequate health services, religious and ethnic differences, adverse geographical locations, economic deprivation, life cycle status, physical and mental disabilities, and gender and transgender disparities. Many of the affected people are also faced with multiple vulnerabilities, accentuating the effects of the others. The majority of children are deprived from nutritional food and quality education, while many of them fall prey to violence. The youth in the country are also subjected to various vulnerabilities – unemployment is an acute problem for them, and as a result they are becoming alienated from family and society. Adverse geographical and environmental conditions are further deepening the state of vulnerabilities. Immediate actions are needed in the country to end vulnerabilities and deprivation of all types and in all forms.
The civil society of Bangladesh has traditionally played an important and historic role over the past decades towards socio-economic development of the country. This positive role of the civil society is continuing at present, but has to be further strengthened in the future. At various sessions of today’s Conference, a large number of specific recommendations have been put forward for eradication of economic, social and environmental inequalities. We will work firmly and remain proactive in implementing these recommendations.
From this Conference today we pledge to build a just and right-based Bangladesh where No One Will Be Left Behind. We will reflect this commitment in our activities, sensitise the people and help improve their capabilities to work for the SDGs. Our platform will continue to work to coordinate the initiatives of our partners.
We firmly believe that
a. Formulation of appropriate policy framework and specific work plans in favour of those “left behinds” to realise the SDG aspirations.
b. Full implementation of various government plans and laws that promote the interest of the marginalised people.
c. Inclusion of the civil society in formulation of the relevant policy framework designed in favour of the “left behinds”.
d. Allocation of transparent and prioritised resources in the national budget to implement the envisaged work plans.
2. The action plans formulated for the marginalised communities have to be implemented through effective public-private partnership. For this, the following will be needed:
a. Formulation of a government-non-state actor partnership policy.
b. Ensuring effective institutional framework.
c. Monitoring and evaluating the implementation progress on a regular basis, and ensuring active involvement of the civil society in the process.
3. Concrete measures will need to be undertaken for collection of disaggregated data and information concerning the vulnerable people in the context of various indicators of the SDGs.
4. Legal protection of the marginalised and vulnerable people and rule of law must be ensured.
5. The draft “Inequalities Eradication Law” needs to be approved by the National Parliament, at an early date, taking note of the feedbacks received in this regard.
6. Immediate and full implementation of the “Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord” and the Vested Property Return Act has to be done.
7. Take effective legal and institutional measures towards establishing equal rights of all citizens, including women, with regard to property rights and access to income.
8. A specific plan with time bound targets has to be formulated to address youth employment, and its immediate implementation should be ensured.
9. The policy to give priority to marginalised, deprived and vulnerable people in distribution of khas land has to be faithfully implemented.
10. Effective implementation of special laws and policies designed to support the vulnerable groups in the society has to be ensured. These include, Bangladesh Labour (revised) Law 2013, Right and Protection Law 2013 for Disabled People, Disaster Management Law 2012, National Women Development Policy 2011, National Education Policy 2010, National Health Policy 2011, National Child Labour Abolishment Policy 2010, Coastal Area Policy 2005; National Disaster Management Plan 2010-2015, and Indigenous Cultural Institution Law 2010, the Small Ethnic Groups Cultural Institutes Act, 2010 ensuring the inclusion of all the indigenous/ethnic groups who are not still
11. Opportunities must be created to nurture and promote freedom of thoughts and expression through, among others ensuring the freedom of media and access to information for all.
12. All political parties, participating in the upcoming national elections will commit in their manifestos their programmes to address vulnerabilities of the marginalised, deprived and vulnerable sections of the population.
Bangladesh is changing and will evolve further. Together we will build a Bangladesh where No One Will Be Left Behind and no citizen will be deprived of the rightful benefits of national development and achievements. Successful implementation of this commitment will be our best homage to our great War of Liberation.