Md. Joynal Abdin*
The Financial Express on December 12, 2015
In September 2000, global leaders signed a historic declaration and agreed to achieve eight measurable targets by the year 2015 which is commonly known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Several countries took multi-prong strategies and techniques to achieve the goals. As a result, the world has observed few remarkable achievements in many of the goals.
It is observed in a recent report of the United Nations (UN) that, the world achieved following results in respect of each of the MDGs:
Goal-1: Extreme poverty has declined significantly over the last two decades. In 1990, nearly half of the population in the developing world lived on less than $1.25 a day. The proportion dropped by 14 per cent in 2015.
Goal-2: Net enrolment rate in primary schools in the developing nations has reached 91 per cent in 2015, up from 83 per cent in 2000. The number of out-of-school children of primary school age worldwide has fallen by almost half, to an estimated 57 million in 2015, down from 100 million in 2000.
Goal-3: Women have gained ground in parliamentary representation in nearly 90 per cent of the 174 countries over the past 20 years. The average proportion of women in parliament has nearly doubled during the same period. Still only one out of five members in Parliament is a woman.
Goal-4: The global under-five mortality rate has declined by more than half, dropping from 90 to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births between 1990 and 2015.
Goal-5: Maternal health: Since 1990, the maternal mortality ratio has declined by 45 per cent worldwide, with most of the reduction since 2000.
Goal-6: Combating HIV/AIDs, malaria, and other diseases: New HIV infections fell by approximately 40 per cent between 2000 and 2013, as number of cases came down from an estimated 3.5 million cases to 2.1 million.
Goal-7: Environmental sustainability: About 1.9 billion people have gained access to piped drinking water since 1990. 98 per cent of ozone-depleting substances has been eliminated since 1990.
Goal-8: Global partnership for development: Official development assistance from developed countries increased by 66 per cent in real terms between 2000 and 2014, reaching from $ 81 billion to $135.2 billion.
Bangladesh’s achievements of the Millennium Development Goals could be shown as under:
- Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger: Extreme poverty reduced from 56.7 per cent in 1991-92 to 31.5 per cent in 2010. It is estimated that, percentage of extreme poverty could be reduced to 24.8 per cent by the end of 2015.
- Universal primary education: Bangladesh has had remarkable achievements in this area, but a large part of the physically and mentally retarded children still remains out of the schooling system. Improvement of quality of education is also a challenge at the primary and higher secondary levels that need to be taken care of on priority basis.
- Gender equality and empowerment of women: It is stated that Bangladesh has already achieved the targets of gender parity in primary and secondary education at the national level. But till date security, safety, equality of opportunity for the women in every field especially in terms of career or entrepreneurship development, is an issue to ponder about.
- Reduction in child mortality: The under-five mortality rate was 151 per 1000 live births in 1990 which came down to 41 per 1000 live births in 2013 and thereby achieving the target ahead of the stipulated time.
- Improvement in maternal health: The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) in Bangladesh in the 1990/91 was 574 per 100,000 live births, which was one of the highest in the world. According to Bangladesh Maternal Mortality Survey (BMMS), maternal mortality declined from 322 in 2001 to 194 in 2010, a 40 per cent reduction in nine years.
- Combating HIV/AIDs, malaria, and other diseases: Bangladesh has performed well in halting communicable diseases. Available data show that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh currently is less than 0.1 percent and thus is still below an epidemic level. Besides, religious, family and social forces are playing a vital role in controlling extra marital sexual relationship. Awareness campaign of the government played a vital role to develop awareness of mass people about HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh.
7.Environmental sustainability: Data show that without considering the issue of arsenic contamination, 97.9 per cent of the population of Bangladesh is using improved/safe drinking water and 55.9 per cent people are using improved sanitation in 2012-13. However, access to safe water for all is a challenge, as arsenic and salinity intrusion as a consequence of climate change fall out will exacerbate access to safe water especially for the poor.
- Developing a global partnership for development: During the last twenty four years, Bangladesh, on an average, received US$ 1.74 billion overseas development assistance (ODA) per year. The disbursed ODA as a proportion of Bangladesh’s GDP has declined from 5.69 per cent in FY 90-91 to 1.78 per cent in FY 13-14, implying an annual average of 2.84 per cent.
From the above discussion it is clear that Bangladesh has made progress in terms of MDGs, but we have limitations in quantifiable statistics. In few cases our progress is not measurable against the global progress due to lack of quantitative information. Till now a large number of people live below extreme poverty line. Economic disparity is rising. A particular segment of the society is becoming richer and the poor remains poor. Positive growth is not reducing economic disparity in the society. Inclusive growth is not taking place. Disparity in terms of quality of education between the poor and rich is noticeable. We have had remarkable progress in terms of reducing child mortality and reducing maternal mortality rate. We have to negotiate with the developed world to assist us to cope with the adverse effects of climate change. We have to go for further deeper integration in terms of getting development assistance and creating global development partnership.
Following a rigorous consultation process and several international conferences and working group discussions, the UN General Assembly approved Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 to be achieved by 2030. Total 17 SDGs are as follows:
Goal – 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal – 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal – 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal – 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all
Goal – 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal – 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal- 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all
Goal- 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all
Goal – 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation
Goal – 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal – 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal – 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal – 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal – 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal – 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss
Goal – 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels, and finally
Goal – 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development.
Given the both extensive and intensive nature of the SDGs, most countries will have to work out elaborate plans and mechanisms for attainment of the goals with quantifiable means and parameters.
*Mr. Md. Joynal Abdin is a Deputy Manager at SME Foundation in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Could be reached firstname.lastname@example.org