SDGs face myriad challenges

Staff Correspondent

20 September, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh has to overcome a number of challenges for achieving SDGs, including the key areas of resource mobilisation, poverty, inequality, health and education. 

Top public think tank General Economics Division (GED) has identified a total of 88 risks in the path of implementing the global sustainable development agenda.

“People can be misled with the term risk; rather it is safe to state that the country has to accomplish some arduous tasks in the path of SDGs implementation,” Dr Shamsul Alam, GED Chief, said.

“We not only identified the challenges in our report, but at the same time made recommendations for overcoming those challenges,” he added. In the journey, resource mobilisation, especially from foreign sources, is going to be an uphill task for the country. Besides, there is a risk of being bogged down in a middle-income trap, according to the report.

Earlier in a study, GED had estimated that Bangladesh would require a total or US$928.48 billion or yearly $66 billion additional financing for achieving SDGs, a sizeable portion of which is expected to come as official development assistance (ODA).

Also, frequent floods, cyclone, hailstorm and other natural disaster coupled with loss of 0.5 percent arable land every year and their loss of fertility due to salinity and pulling 70 percent poor northern people out of poverty pose risks for reaching the key goal of ending poverty.

The health sector challenges include inequality in getting health services in terms of educational status or possession of wealth, increase supply of trained midwives, extending healthcare to the urban poor and lowering medicare cost.   

Lowering fire and acid burn injuries, drowning, road accident deaths and prevention of contagious diseases are also among them.

A major SDGs challenge is going to be enrolling some 4 million left-out children in schools and putting an end to inequality in school enrolment for students aged 11-15 years.

Imposing all the burden of unpaid household work on female has been identified as the main risk for ensuring gender inequality and women empowerment. 

Ending inequality, prevention of workplace harassment and violence, lack of gender sensitive data, sustainable water supply, prevention of pollution at source to ensure sanitation are other major challenges for SDGs. 

Convener of Citizens’ Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh, Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya thinks that achieving first 15 goals of the development agenda largely hinges on the reaching the goal

 number 16 –institutional improvement and good governance.  

“Ensuring good governance is urgent for mitigation of the SDGs implementation risks. Even though Bangladesh achieved some average success, it can be found that the population lagging behind has not got many opportunities, if the successes are seen in a disaggregated way,” he pointed out.   

These lagging populations include dalits, handicapped, citizens of hard-to-reach areas, urban people of informal sector, he explained.

Some headways have been made in education, but quality education is still a far way. Similarly, there is some achievement in employment generation with little improvement in decent job creation, he added.    

The noted economic analyst also put emphasis on stepping up efforts for global partnership for achieving SDGs in line with the goal number 17.

He also called for a renewed action plan in view of the corona pandemic that can create a new poverty situation. “Otherwise many goals will finally remain unachieved.”

Dr Shamsul Alam, however, said the government has taken many initiatives and done many jobs for the risk mitigation, especially after unveiling the first SDGs progress report in 2018.

In particular, ministries have chalked out their own SDGs implementation plan after that, he mentioned.  

Moreover, progress indicators have been introduced apart from setting financing strategy along with assessment of necessary funds required for implementation of the global sustainable development agenda.

The government also held the first ever national conference to review the progress in executing the new development goals, he also mentioned.