The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), has highlighted its concerns over a number of key issues for the NY summit to address. One such issue relates to monitoring of progress in attaining targets of MDGs and SDGs.
Published in The Financial Express on Monday, 21 September 2015.
Charting a realistic course to attain SDGs
The United Nations is on the move to chart a new course of development for its least developed member-countries by setting goals which are also incorporated in their national plans. The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were earlier set, are about to be attained by this year-end. Its successor — Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – will now have 17 specific targets to be met by 2030. Implementation of such goals within specific deadlines depends on concerted efforts by the least developed countries (LDCs), notwithstanding their failure on some MDG counts. The ensuing SDG summit in New York (NY) from September 25-27, is expected to set out the course of actions for SDGs in a coordinated manner on the basis of experiences gained so far during the period of implementation of the MDGs.
The NY summit will be taking stock of the development goals that have broadly been set by the world forum. The UN initiative on MDGs and SDGs has made it clear that the world body is otherwise pro-active about extending cooperation to the LDCs in spurring their economic growth and development. The SDGs, following their adoption at the NY summit, will be purported to catapulting the LDCs onto a higher growth trajectory in order to help attain the cherished development objectives. In Bangladesh’s case, five-year plans and annual development programmes have been the tools to help achieve the objectives that were enshrined earlier in the MDGs and will now be included in the SDGs.
Against this backdrop, one of the country’s leading think tanks, the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), has highlighted its concerns over a number of key issues for the NY summit to address. One such issue relates to monitoring of progress in attaining targets of MDGs and SDGs. It has quite rightly raised the question about how the UN would oversee achievement of about 17 SDGs, if monitoring of eight MDGs poses serious challenges at the national level. Another vital question is related to finance for such plans. In case of the MDGs, the developed countries have already failed to fulfil their commitment of providing 0.07 per cent of their gross national income (GNI) as development aid to the LDCs. Absence of transparency and correct statistics in the LDCs is yet another issue of consequence. The non-availability of correct statistics is indeed one major constraint to initiating right moves at the right time.
Experts suggest that the NY summit needs to concentrate its attention on developing a strong system for monitoring and reviewing progress and implementation of 17 SDGs. One of the SDGs highlights the need for ensuring a peaceful, inclusive society, better access to justice and better governance. This is a critically important goal and is likely to be hotly debated. It is very important as the Agenda 2030 has to be rolled out at the national level. Progress can really be achieved when people hold their leaders accountable. Happily, a UN official has made it clear that if any country wants to hide completely what is happening, then the international committee can have access to that information through its own mechanism. The UN has also been underlining the need for private sector to play a constructive role in the attainment of SDGs.
Moreover, the summit should critically examine what actions need to be taken to help the LDCs attain the unfulfilled MDGs. On its part, Bangladesh is on track or has already achieved five of the eight MDGs. But it is still lagging behind in some key target areas of environmental sustainability, sanitation, nutrition and certain aspects of gender equity and hunger. On such counts, actions need to be expedited to help attain them at the earliest.