The path to development

Md Abu Syed 13 February,2016
Md Abu Syed

Aligning and integration of all the major planned or potential infrastructure projects would facilitate distribution development benefits to the peoples of different regions. For example, enhanced capacity and efficient ICT-based land, court, and case management systems could save man-hours which can be utilised for other productive purposes now being wasted in finding labyrinthine ways to get justice.

The second issue is the quality of the regulatory environment and of wider economic governance. Red tape, corruption, and the difficulties of doing business are key challenges facing Bangladesh. These weaknesses directly harm competitiveness, distort investment decisions, and deter FDI. The introduction of ICT and transparent digital ICT-based service delivery system at all levels of governance would surely reduce red-tape and corruption while enhance accountability as well.

Third, and directly pertinent to inclusiveness, is the extent to which production is labour-intensive and the economy is able to absorb unemployed and underemployed workers. As a next step, a regional policy is needed to address east-west differences and support the Chittagong Hill Tracts, riverine char land, and remote coastal islands along with targeted regeneration and poverty reduction schemes.

Inclusive social development in Bangladesh for the post-2015 agenda

In addition, advances have occurred in measurement to focus on the joint distribution of deprivation, given that people often face multiple dimensions at the same time, and to understand the intra-household distribution of resources, which is particularly critical with regard to social development. Poor people and marginalised groups are experiencing the effects of climate change and environmental degradation on their circumstances and livelihoods, while these processes, in turn, deepen poverty and increase marginalisation and vulnerability.

The concept of inclusive social development is anchored around the idea that balanced, sustainable development can only take place when development includes all (men, women, children, physically and mentally challenged or disabled) groups of people who collectively contribute to identify and address challenges, make decisions, and create opportunities. Overall, the quality of growth must be gauged by how much marginalised populations are enabled to enjoy effective coverage of key social services that define their rights to live, thrive, and be safe from abuse, exploitation, and violence.

Inclusive governance

Inclusive governance also is essential to ensure effective policy development in areas vital for underpinning sustainable development, such as addressing climate change and environmental degradation, or managing population size. Inclusive governance likewise is critical for the development of innovative social policy responses, including sound health, nutrition, and educational provision, and effective social protection.

It also means that governance institutions and policies are accessible and accountable to marginalised groups, providing equal access to public services. In all, inclusive governance occurs when the rule of law is followed, access to justice is afforded, and discrimination is addressed. For Bangladesh as elsewhere, three central aspects of inclusive governance are: a) Accountable public institutions that deliver public services via digital ways to all, especially the marginalised and poor, b) participation and representation of all people in the democratic process, and c) rule of law and respect for human rights.

Corruption, undue influence, violence, and fear, each undermine the rule of law, national stability, and prosperity. Rule of law institutions and services, linking human rights and post-2015 goals, would seek to deliver sustainable and inclusive development that supports the realisation of human rights, particularly for the marginalised.

Integrating climate change issues into SDGs

Climate change has differential impacts on agriculture, fisheries, and water sector in different geographic regions of Bangladesh. Any climate-induced change in physical processes in a given region of the country would certainly change the bio-physical conditions that decide/regulate livelihood practices in that particular region.

In the meantime, enough evidence has been generated to show that climate change is already happening, and poor/marginalised people are the most affected by the climate-induced events. It adversely affects the livelihood, economic activities, and environment of that region, which make it relatively vulnerable compared to other regions of the country. If climate change issues are not taken into account or integrated into national and local development planning, in the future, all development achievement may be jeopardised, or even lost by a single climate-induced event.

Hence, it is imperative to prioritise sectors in each region, each section of population along with their development challenges, climate related pressures, risks and vulnerabilities, and probable adaptation and mitigation. While identifying and prioritising the sector-wise adaptation options and evaluating their appropriateness and effectiveness in terms of lessening climate change impacts from the grass-root level to national level opinion of local concerned population, stake-holders and civil society need to be accommodated as well.

Recommendations

Attainment of SDGs will require a strong and effective institutional mechanism involving all stake-holders including public representatives (central and local), government (executive and bureaucracy), private sector, civil society, knowledge community (academic and non-academic), and development partners

Bangladesh government needs to decide who should lead the process in SDGs. Under the leadership of the Prime Minister’s Office, an inter-ministerial body may be formed for regular national level review of achievement against planned targets

Alternatively, a separate institution for implementation of SDGs-related development programs needs to be in place with clear mandates of its activities and auditing systems

The System of Environmental Economic Accounts (SEEA) was developed to respond to this need at the UN level, and represents the integrated statistical framework to measure the environment and its relationship with the economy and society

The national budgetary process needs also to be informed by the SDGs and resources allocation needs to be made judiciously across different sectors and geographic regions

Adoption of a common conceptual framework in line with international standards and integration of environment statistics within the national statistical system requires a systems-wide approach to align the statistical production process for different sectoral statistics, and reconcile institutional arrangements for the production of an integrated information sets

Bangladesh may use the COP21 Paris agreement as an opportunity for negotiation at international fora. Climate agreement and resources (if made available) can be utilised in adaptation and mitigation, keeping climate change and sustainable development in focus.
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