Md. Joynal Abdin
The Daily Sun on October 29, 2017
The post-MDG agenda adopted by the global leaders in a historic UN Summit on January 01, 2016 and to be achieved by 2030, are known as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are 17 goals focused to overcome poverty and sustainability of the planet i.e. the world. SDGs are – end poverty in all its forms everywhere; end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture; ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages; ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all; ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation; reduce inequality within and among countries; make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development; protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss; promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels; finally and strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership to achieve the above goals of sustainable development.
All of the above goals are some qualitative statements to achieve a certain condition in each aspect. But how could we know that a particular target is achieved in a society? How to measure achievement of a certain country? To facilitate quantitative calculation of the performance of a community in SDG achievement 169 targets and 241 indicators have been set up. The world leaders are yet to decide on 11 indicators but 230 indicators have been selected unanimously. Whatever the final number may be, the 17 goals, 169 targets and 230 plus indicators are there to measure SDG achievements of a society in quantitative means. Let’s try to have a look on the relationship among goals, targets and indicators of SDGs.
For example; the first goal is end of poverty in all its forms everywhere; there are 5 targets and 9 indicators of this goal (SDG Goal -1). Five targets of goal number 1 are (by 2030) eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day; reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions; implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable; ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance; finally to build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters. All of these targets are to be achieved by 2030 under the first goal.
Nine indicators of the goal number one are proportion of population below the international poverty line, by sex, age, employment status and geographical location (urban/rural); proportion of population living below the national poverty line, by sex and age; proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions; proportion of population covered by social protection floors/systems, by sex, distinguishing children, unemployed persons, older persons, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, newborns, working injury victims and the poor and the vulnerable; proportion of population living in households with access to basic services; proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognised documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure; number of deaths, missing persons and persons affected by disaster per 100,000 people; direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) and finally the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies.
From the above two paragraphs it is clear when we could claim achievement of goals one i.e. end of poverty in all its forms everywhere. It also clear that SDGs are more transparent and scientific than the MDGs. In case of MDGs countries have reported a summary statement qualitatively and the United Nations has accepted it without any second thought. But in case of SDGs all these 169 targets and 241 indicators made the whole programme quantitative, transparent, measurable, methodical and off course time bound (by 2030). So SDG reporting would be more indicative with quantitative statistics therefore countries have to be authentic and claim anything with specific numbers backed by statistics. The only flexibility of the whole SDG programme is all the definition are to be fixed by respective governments of the country. Countries like Bangladesh are getting a certain degree of freedom to determine the national definitions. But to make the definitions acceptable they must be aligned with the neighbouring states or look-alike countries.
The government of Bangladesh has already prepared its policies like 7th Five Year Plan, National Industrial Policy, ICT Policy etc. in line with the SDGs. The government is serious on SDG achievement and appointed a very experienced and influential bureaucrat as Coordinator for SDG affairs under the Prime Minister’s Office. But till now something more has to be done to achieve the SDGs in time. This is involving private sector as key partner to achieve SDGs.
There are several committees in different ministries with private sector representatives in this regard. But what will have to be done – how, when and by whom? These types of questions regarding private sector’s involvement in SDG are missing. Generally, no private company is supposed to spend money for capacity building of their employees to achieve any certain target of SDG. Therefore it is the government who has to create mechanism to involve or engage private sector entities more closely with the SDG process.
Leadership chair has to be given to the private sector to achieve few goals and the government could remain there as a catalyst. Today is the prime time to delegate the responsibility with adequate power and authority to the private sector organisations from the bureaucracy to achieve SDGs by 2030; otherwise it would be too late to do so. Off course, another valid question would be private sector’s capacity to handle the issues efficiently. And, again, the government has to play a vital role along with the development partners for capacity building of Bangladeshi private sector to make them capable enough to play their role effectively. Only government’s initiative without private sector in the driving seat is bound to fail in this regard.