The 'Strengthening Institutional Capacity for SDGs Achievement in Bangladesh (SC4SDG)' project of UNDP Bangladesh and General Economics Division (GED), with the support of UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Action for Sustainable Development Goals project through the financial support of the Governments of Austria, Sweden, and the European Union jointly organized the workshop titled “Reviewing Progress of National SDG Action Plan” on 19 September 2021 in follow up of the previous two progress review workshops.
In all, 63 participants from 18 ministries/divisions/agencies have joined this consultation workshop. The key ministries who have attended were from BBS (NSO), Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Finance, Statistics and Informatics Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Youth & Sports, Ministry of Food & Agriculture, Ministry of Social Welfare, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Labor and Employment, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.
The first National SDGs Action Plan was developed considering the country’s National Medium Plan (7th Five Year Plan), in which the SDGs goals and targets have been integrated. SDGs will be implemented through three consecutive Five Year Plans i.e., 7th, 8th, and 9th Five Year Plans covering the duration of SDGs period. The objectives of the first Action Plan were to achieve the twin objectives of attaining Bangladesh’s development aspiration and the SDGs. The National SDGs Action Plan is a living document and requires revisiting as and when a new five-year plan is formulated. It has now become imperative to develop a new SDG Action Plan since the 8th Five Year Plan has been launched in 2020.
In this backdrop, the SC4SDG project has assisted the Government through GED in organizing three progress review workshops for stock taking the progress of the current Action Plan. The first of the two consultation workshops on "Reviewing Progress of Implementation of National SDGs Action Plan" were held on 29 November 2020 followed by the second one on 22 March 2021. As many as 35 ministries/divisions participated in these two review workshops. The ministries/divisions/agencies were asked to report their progress against the targets set under the National SDGs Action Plan 2018. This consultation on 19 September was organized to review the implementation progress of the remaining ministries/divisions.
Dr Shamsul Alam, Honorable State Minister, Ministry of Planning attended the event as Chief Guest. Ms. Zuena Aziz, Principal Coordinator (SDG Affairs), Prime Minister’s Office and Ms Mosammat Nasima Begum, Member (Secretary), Socio-Economic Infrastructure Division, Bangladesh Planning Commission attended as Special Guests. UNDP was represented by Mr. Ashekur Rahman, Assistant Resident Representative, UNDP Bangladesh. The workshop was chaired by Mr. Md Mafidul Islam, Chief (Additional Secretary), General Economics Division (GED).
Salient features of key dignitaries:
Dr Shamsul Alam, Honorable State Minister, Ministry of Planning said in his speech, “1/3rd of the time for SDGs is gone, and we will need to make good use of the next 10 years. Our national development plans and the SDGs are closely linked. SDG Implementation Review (SIR) and SDG Action plan both need to be prepared. GED has always tried to make their studies simple and easily understandable. The actions plans are very project oriented. We need to think about whether to make APA and if so, we could make another document although it is not that important. The more target-oriented projects we can undertake, the better. So, let’s take appropriate and well-defined and rational projects that are cost-effective.”
Ms. Zuena Aziz, Principal Coordinator (SDG Affairs), Prime Minister’s Office said, “There are some overlapping areas in the National Action Plan and in that case, ministries will need to cross-check with each other. SDG 16 (Law and Order) is particularly important, and we will always get questions about this. She liked how many ministries were able to explain complex concepts quickly. Covid has been a challenge but she is confident that we will be able to overcome the challenges.”
Ashekur Rahman, Assistant Resident Representative, UNDP Bangladesh, in his speech said, “This is a very timely initiative. And plans are underway for a second national action plan and we will hopefully be able to sit with multiple stakeholders soon regarding this. We need to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs. He also mentioned the importance of LDC graduation, and we are in the process of overcoming the first stage of Covid (although this is difficult to say with certainty now). We need good preparation for LDC graduation. And we need to prepare for Covid recovery with proper plans. We have shown a lot of resilience in facing covid. Covid has meant that the achievement of SDGs is under big threat. SDG goal 1 is the face of the entire SDGs is especially at risk. This is also the first time that the UN HDR has fallen since it started in 1990. Food security is also something we should focus on. Stunting, etc. will also need focus. Health as well. BD has performed well in gender empowerment in recent years, but covid has put this at risk as well. BD’s performance has been comparatively good, and we have many silver linings- death rate, infant mortality, etc. is doing well. The informal sector especially has been hard hit by Covid. ODA has also been negatively impacted and we will have to look at innovative and alternative financing sources.