Lack of real-time data key challenge to SDGs: experts
A dearth of real-time and authentic data and a lack of access to resources are major challenges for Bangladesh to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), experts said at a discussion yesterday.
Besides, the government's efforts to adopt a whole-of-society approach should be strengthened to implement the three main SDG components -- the environment, society and economy -- through the lens of goals 5, 8 and 13, they said.
The government, the Strengthening Institutional Capacity for SDGs Achievement in Bangladesh (SC4SDG) Project of the UNDP Bangladesh, and the UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Action for Sustainable Development Goals project jointly organised the discussion styled "Consultation with wider stakeholders on SDGs 5, 8 & 13 through the whole of society approach", in collaboration with The Daily Star.
Addressing the event, Binayak Sen, director-general of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, said the country's most recent labour force data was of fiscal 2016-17.
Similarly, the last health survey was conducted the same year, while the latest demographic and health survey data is from 2000.
"That means that for about five to seven years, we do not know anything that is happening in the country in terms of employment, decent work, poverty, income inequality, demographic and health indicators," Sen added.
While discussing the SDGs, he emphasised the role of industrialisation in creating demand for human development.
"We should not force formalisation on the informal labour market. Instead, we should try to provide social protection or other benefits for those informal sector workers," he added.
Fahmida Khatun, executive director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said that the unavailability of disaggregated data was a major challenge for SDG implementation.
Real-time authentic and representative data is important to have realistic policymaking, she said while making a presentation on "Implementing the SDGs Through Whole of Society Approach".
"If we do not have accurate data, policy measures will not be perfect. So, we need new survey data from various sources," she added.
Khatun went on to say that all relevant parties, including non-state actors, were the key players in achieving the SDGs, and their role should be fully recognised.
Non-state actors' capacity to implement the SDGs is not adequate and it should be developed through government support, she said.
The government's efforts to adopt the whole of society approach for implementing the SDGs should be continued and strengthened as well, she said.
Khushi Kabir, secretary of Nijera Kori, said though the overall conditions of women had improved over the years, one area that still remained unaddressed was insecurity.
Nazneen Ahmed, country economist of the UNDP, said, "We have to think about what messages we are actually supplying to the wider community."
"For example, we still have home economics, which is the girls' topic that is provided only at girls' schools. But we know that it is not a girls' topic only."
"So, we have to change such things. It is also important to think about the message we give to the wider community when we are taking the whole of the society approach."
Prof Shamsul Alam, state minister for planning, said the government had adopted several policy actions to advocate for the rights of women to attain the SDG-5.
Some key challenges include eradicating violence against women and inequalities in opportunity, preventing child marriage, and promoting financial empowerment of women, he said.
Highlighting the many steps taken by the government to achieve the SDGs, he said, "In our five-year plans, we emphasised job creation the most to accelerate GDP growth."
Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, in a video message, called for concerted efforts of all stakeholders to make the whole process a success.
Md Mafidul Islam, chief (additional secretary) of the General Economics Division, Judith Herbertson, development director of the British High Commission, and Mizanur Rahman, head of operations and chief financial officer of The Daily Star, were also present.