The world looks to Bangladesh for its inputs beyond 2015, thanks to the country's strong performance in achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a top official said yesterday.
"The world really needs an articulate Bangladeshi voice, a strong but concise statement on what is relevant for the nation and consequently, for the world's least developed countries," said Neal Walker, United Nations resident coordinator in Bangladesh.
The UN secretary general in November 2011 highlighted that Bangladesh has a critical voice in the run-up to the decision making process, he said.
The reason is, Bangladesh is the largest LDC in the world, with a long history of intellectual achievement and engagement in global debate, and a strong, explicit political will to make a meaningful, strategic contribution to the global debate.
"We are deeply committed to helping the country produce the best-quality input, both in terms of process and substance, for the global debate,” Walker said.
The UN official said he was confident that Bangladesh would set an example for other nations. "In fact, the co-ordinated national efforts towards the global debate will help Bangladesh to define its own development goals as it begins its seventh five-year planning process."
Walker's observations came at a high-level meeting at the planning ministry in Dhaka, where a number of ministers, secretaries and UN officials gathered to discuss the goals to be drafted into Bangladesh's position paper, due for submission to the UN in March.
Walker also said the involvement of national governments is crucial.
"The lack of consultation was a real weakness of the original MDGs. Despite that, to the extent that the MDGs were successful, it was government's buy-in and national investment that made them successful."
"Now, for a second-round development paradigm, national buy-in, from the outset, will be the crucial determinant of their successful implementation."
"While the MDGs have had a real impact on the lives of billions, there is still much more to be done. I can imagine a bold effort, a quality result that defines the transformational change we want to achieve -- for all people and societies,” Walker further said.
Poverty eradication will remain a dominant goal beyond 2015 as most developing countries are set to fall short of halving the poverty ratio, said Qazi Kholiquzzaman, in-charge of preparing Bangladesh's position paper.
Many developing countries, particularly the least-developed and African countries, would fall short of halving the poverty ratio by 2015, he said. "So, poverty eradication would remain an overriding goal for the period beyond 2015."
Kholiquzzaman, convenor of the Bangladesh Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Initiative, said all SDGs must be assessable by targets and indicators.
Bangladesh has already achieved or is on track to achieve most of the MDG targets, with the goal of eradicating poverty remaining to be pursued, he said.
"The same is true globally," said the economist. Bangladesh has probably already reached the target of halving the poverty population, he said.
Achievements in minimising child mortality have already earned the country an award from the UN. Bangladesh has also improved its record in primary education enrolment and parity between girls and boys.
The country's deficits are mostly related to hunger, water supply and sanitation, Kholiquzzaman said.
He said the team members have identified 23 goals at present but the final number may be considerably lower for global acceptability and focused implementation.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, who chaired the meeting, said the targets should be few and -- measurable and visible.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni agreed with Muhith that Bangladesh's SDGs should be few, adding that they should be “focused, simple and acceptable”.
She said Bangladesh has been diligent in meeting the MDG goals ahead of the timeline. Food Minister Abdur Razzaque said Bangladesh did very well in terms of achieving MDGs, although it has not received adequate support from the donors.
"I think the donors should formulate their own strategy on how they will help the countries achieve targets post-2015," he said. Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman suggested financial inclusion in the SDGs and called for co-operation between the government and non-government entities for effective implementation.
The government will hold six more consultation sessions across the country next month for wider participation of the people. The UN secretary general has nominated a high-level panel of 26 eminent personalities, to be co-chaired by the presidents of Indonesia and Liberia and the prime minister of the UK.