Sheikh Hasina’s Dynamic Leadership Intensifying SDGs Localization

Hiren Pandit: Bangladesh has significantly improved its global SDG ranking, moving from 120th to 101st place in just seven years. According to the Global Sustainable Development Report 2023, Bangladesh has ranked 101 among 166 countries in 2022 whereas its ranking was 116 in 2019. The country has achieved an impressive 6.7% average GDP growth with a pro-poor focus for the past fifteen years. The first three SDGs pertain to ending poverty, and hunger and improving public health and Bangladesh has made good progress on all three and is on track to achieve the targets. Of the 17 targets under the three SDGs, four have already been met certain level, six are on track and five need more attention. Bangladesh has ranked 101 on the SDGs. One of the goals of the SDGs is to eradicate poverty, ensure food security, ensure good health, improve education, and prevent gender inequality. Bangladesh’s overall score in this year’s SDGs index is 83.5%. Last year the score was 63.27 percent. When SDGs were adopted in 2015, Bangladesh’s score was 59.01 percent. Bangladesh ranked 101 out of 166 countries in the world.: Bangladesh has already become an example in various social progress indices. Intensive management of natural disasters, use of microcredit and its role in poverty alleviation, tree plantation, positive changes in social and economic indicators, etc. have become exemplary examples. Bangladesh has the success to surprise the world. In particular, education, women’s empowerment, reduction of maternal and child mortality and birth rates, provision of toilets and health facilities for the poor, and immunization of children are among the activities.
Bangladesh still has a long way to go to achieve all the SDGs targets. Another major weakness in achieving SDGs is the lack of data. In many cases, there is not even enough data to analyze the progress. Bangladesh has not yet made effective progress on issues such as eliminating inequality, peace and justice, role in climate protection, and ensuring employment. The desired progress in human nutrition has not been achieved. This requires ensuring women’s leadership and participation in decision-making at all levels. It has to start from the house and it will remain in force till the high level of government. Women’s leadership and participation at the grassroots and national levels are prerequisites for women’s rights, gender equality, sustainable development, and democracy. It is important to remember that achieving the goals of the SDGs requires the participation and leadership of women in all spheres of society. If the political empowerment of women is systematically ensured, Bangladesh will also succeed in achieving the SDGs.
More capacity building needs to be done. In particular, the status of a middle-income country requires a lot of investment, strong development assistance, thorough and effective reform initiatives, an improved business environment, financial discipline, and a stable political environment. Above all, to succeed in achieving the SDGs, public-private initiatives and state-owned accountability, and good governance must be ensured.
Bangladesh has adopted all 17 goals, 169 targets, and 247 indicators. In promoting peace, vital institutions, and improved governance structure, SDG 16 has been translated by 12 targets, 24 indicators, and 22 providers, while in the case of SDG 17, there are 19 targets, 24 indicators, and 20 providers. For localization of SDGs, mainly focused on the district and sub-district level SDGs implementation plan, Bangladesh has identified 40 priority indicators known as the 39+1. The additional (+1) local indicator reflects the “Leaving No One behind,” vulnerable issue of lagging each district and sub-district.
Several reform initiatives include aligning the 8th five-year plan, Vision 2041 Smart Bangladesh and Delta plan with SDGs. Initiate localization of SDGs and the introduction of Voluntary National Review and SDGs Implementation Review (SIR). Mapping of ministries, financing gap analysis, and data availability for informed decision-making are critical steps. Besides, SDGs focal points were appointed in each ministry and department, and the introduction of Annual Performance Appraisals (APAs) is key to fostering progress.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken center stage in the global arena as Bangladesh has made tremendous achievements in all sectors under her dynamic and extraordinary leadership. It is crucial to harmonize three core elements: economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection to achieve sustainable development. Bangladesh, as one of the most active and committed countries to achieve the SDGs with the highest level of political will, is making strong strides toward SDGs implementation at national and local levels and completed all the preparatory works to achieve SDGs in a coordinated manner.
The successful implementation of the SDGs depends on the inclusive and enhanced participation of multiple state and non-state stakeholders. Therefore, Bangladesh has adopted a “whole of society” approach to ensure wider participation of the private sector, development partners, NGOs, CSOs, think tanks, academia, and media in the process of the implementation of SDGs. Bangladesh has mainstreamed the SDGs in the national development plans and policies. For instance, SDGs have been integrated into Inclusive Economic Growth through Macroeconomic Stability SDG-8, Reducing Poverty and Inequality, SDG-1 & 10, Health & Well Being SDG-3, Clean Water & Sanitation SDG-6 Quality Education-SDG-46. Employment, SDG-8, Agriculture & Food Security SDG-2, Transport & Communication SDG-9, Power, Energy and Mineral Resources-SDG-7, Gender and Inequality, SDG-5 & 1011. Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Management, Information & Communication Technology SDG-1.4, 4.4,13,14 & 15 Urban Development SDG-11, Governance SDG 16, International Cooperation and Partnership SDG-17. General Economics Division (GED) took an initiative on how to facilitate the ministries fixing their own targets to be implemented under the 7th Five Year Plan, which is called the handbook of 7th FYP, as per the allocation of business. GED prepared the mapping of ministries/divisions by SDG targets (who to do what in terms of targets) in 2016. This document is of its first kind regarding the efforts to implement the SDGs in Bangladesh. It has reviewed and revised the report in 2022. The revised mapping identifies custodian/partner agencies as important actors in the implementation of SDGs. A comprehensive set of actions for Ministers/Divisions by SDG targets (SDG Action Plan) aligning with the 7th Five Year Plan (2016-2020) in 2018. A Review Report on the National Action Plan of Ministries/Divisions by Targets for the Implementation of SDGs has also been published recently. It has also prepared the 2nd National Action Plan of Ministries/Divisions by Targets for the Implementation of SDGs aligning with the 8th Five Year Plan (2021-2025)
Bangladesh has emphasized generating quality and timely data since progress in SDGs implementation will be a challenging job without credible and quality data generation. Bangladesh Government is organizing training workshops regularly to enhance the knowledge and capacity of SDG Focal Points on the compilation and reporting of SDG-related data. The first analysis was done in 2017 to assess the data gap for achieving SDGs. A high-level committee “National Data Coordination Committee (NDCC)” has been instituted to modernize the data generation system, reduce the duplicity, prioritize the areas of the survey, identify data gaps, ensure the availability of quality data, and coordinate among ministries and divisions for fast-track data generation for SDGs.
The Government of Bangladesh (GoB) has formed a high-level SDGs Implementation and Review Committee headed by the Principal Coordinator (SDG Affairs), Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for implementing and monitoring the SDGs. GED is working as the Secretariat of SDGs implementation and monitoring. SDG Tracker was introduced to track the progress toward the attainment of SDGs and other national development goals through a web-based information repository.
A Development Result Framework (DRF) has been included in the 8FYP to assess the performance of the Eighth Plan against progress towards the developments using 104 measurable indicators, of which 66 indicators are from the SDGs Global Indicators Framework. A Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) framework of the SDGs was designed in 2017 to track the progress made by the country. This framework has been revised due to several reasons including the massive change in Global Indicators Framework in 2020. To track the progress of SDG implementation in Bangladesh, the SDG progress Report was published in 2018, 2020 and 2022 by GED. The latest SDGs Progress Reports 2022 discussed around 153 indicators, in which-On Track – 42 indicators Target Achieved – 16 indicators, Need Attention – 46 indicators, Lack of Updated Data 49 indicators
The 1st National Conference was held in 2018. On 16-18 May 2022 around 3000 participants from Government, NGOs, DPs, the Private sector, Academia, media, CSO etc. participated in the 2nd National Conference on SDGs Implementation Review (SIR). A Synthesis Report has also been prepared by GED. The mechanism includes both data and qualitative assessments of the progress and challenges of SDGs. Bangladesh assessed the additional resource requirement and did a comprehensive analysis of the development financing landscape to bridge the SDGs financing gap.
According to this report, Bangladesh needed an additional USD 928.48 billion to achieve the SDGs during FY2017-FY2030. It has been estimated that, on average, domestic sources will need to finance 85.1% of the SDG financing while 14.9% of the financing will come from external sources. Here, approximately 42% of the additional cost will be financed by the private sector. The SDG Financing Strategy and Development Finance Assessment are currently being updated. Bangladesh is working on innovative financing solutions such as sustainable bonds. GoB has already floated the Sukuk bond and green bond to mobilize required resources, especially from the private sector.
The government is also exploring the potential of blue bonds for financing sustainable marine and ocean-based projects that will contribute to environmental sustainability and poverty eradication. This study discussed the progress of 60 indicators for Bangladesh, out of which 33 falls under Tier I (data available for 26 indicators), 15 are Tier II indicators (data available for only 5 indicators), and the remaining 12 are Tier III indicators which do not have any updated data (Now these are under Tier ll). The process of integrating the SDGs into local development planning has been initiated to reach the people living at the farthest and make the development more inclusive.
SDG localization Framework has been developed by GED that offers a set of strategies for enabling the local government institutions and people to take part in the process of localizing SDGs. A committee for SDG Implementation and Coordination at the local level has also been formed in each Upazila, District and Division. 39+1 National Priority Indicators (NPI) have been identified to localize SDGs where the +1 indicator has been selected by the local administrative unit. A baseline Study for piloting SDGs localization in Bangladesh has been conducted in 05 Upazilas (Dumuria, Ulipur, Doulatkhan, Bishwambharpur and Belkuchi). The Action Plan for those Upazilas has also been completed and shared.

The main Challenges are Data paucity, Resource gap for financing SDGs, Stagnation in private investment, the Impact of the COVID-19 Impact of the Russia-Ukraine War, and Implementation of SDGs at the Local Level. In this “Decade of Action”, Bangladesh is fully committed to ensuring economic growth, generating employment, reducing poverty, reducing inequality, and maintaining the healthy functioning of the ecosystem. Bangladesh is also committed to doing institutional reforms necessary for achieving SDGs. We need enhanced global cooperation and solidarity to close the huge resource gap in implementing the 2030 agenda. Bangladesh is confident, under the prudent and dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, will be one of the champions in SDGs implementation as it did in the achievement of MDGs.

Hiren Pandit is a columnist and researcher

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