The developing countries will need investment in a range between US$3.3 trillion and US$4.5 trillion a year for implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that cover basic infrastructures such as roads, rail and ports, power stations, water and sanitation as well as ensuring health, education, and food security through agriculture and rural development while addressing climate change issues.
These in the past were the areas of public sector investment, but nowadays, expectation from the private sector has been grown manifold to join the efforts to reach targets of development. The government has mapped all SDGs and identified responsible ministries in line with indicators and sub-goals for their implementation.
The private sector, led by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), needs to be highly integrated into the government's plan, which has created urgency of high level of coordination among the ministries, for achieving the SDG targets.
The SDG Index 2019 has placed Bangladesh at 6th position among the SAARC countries in terms of achievements (see Table). In almost all the 17 goals, Bangladesh needs to work more as the index observed that 'sufficient challenge remains'. This means that the private sector has a role to play in the efforts to better national performance.
The Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), in a presentation at a recent programme on the role of the private sector in achieving SDGs, recommended a governance structure for the private sector emphasising the engagement of the FBCCI and other relevant chambers and association, local chambers and bilateral chambers. MCCI prioritised some goals. They include Goal-8: promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; Goal-9: build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation, Goal-12: ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; and Goal 13: take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
As the focal point for employers and business organisations, it suggested that Bangladesh Employers Federation, the FBCCI and the BUILD should work together.
The FBCCI has formed 10 thematic consultation groups targeting implementation of all SDGs. There were some sort of stocktaking that other private sector organisations are doing to address SDGs. Despite its awareness of the SDG issues, the private sector has lack of institutional framework unlike the public sector entities.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) emphasies partnership building in line with Goal 17 and accordingly provided UNILEVER Bangladesh access to factory workers in the 'Fair Shop' to purchase daily goods. Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) wants sector-wise guidelines so that activities can be planned in phases.
Since there is a potential for raising huge amount of Zakat funds, the government may take initiative to streamline the process and accelerate implementation of the SDGs by using Zakat funds. The government may take support from World Zakat Foundation in that respect. People with disability may be provided with supports accordingly.
There is no adequate data on corporate social responsibility (CSR), which can be linked with SDGs. It is also high time to work for climate migrants of the country's coastal areas. An initiative may be taken to absorb them jobs in three sectors -- water recycling, plastic, coco coir and agro food and fish industry. Effective business plans to be supported by resource endowments should be prepared to see have xpansion of manufacturing base in the coastal region.
Some of the most important areas that are identified for investments in Bangladesh are skills development, work engagement, accommodating green technology, and quality education so that diversified jobs can be created. The government needs to formulate regulatory and legal frameworks to accommodate transformation and changes. The UN Resident Coordinator underlined the importance of the private sector role in implementing SDG 12 -- on sustainable production and consumption.
Waste from electrical and electronic equipment, which globally called e-waste, is a growing problem. Bangladesh is one of severely sufferer countries in plastic wastes. Manufacturers believe they are not responsible for plastic pollution so close collaboration between public and private sectors is essential to address plastic pollution in the country.
As women entrepreneurs are coming up in Bangladesh, a number of natural products can be produced by them; for this, support from the government is required. The private sector can become an efficient user of natural resources. Reducing food waste and food losses would be helpful at this stage of development of the country. Bangladesh is a country of land constraints so waste management should be given number one priority. Recycling and re-use could be the primary target; collection of waste products and reuse can get some priorities in the national policies.
Post-harvest loss is a critical issue and proper technology needs to be adopted to mitigate the losses. Better use of storage, processing, and transportation facilities can help reduce wastages. Private companies can reuse products or donate these products to food aid organisations for re-using them. Policy priority is important to attract more investment in this respect. Chemical use policy is also required since we import huge chemicals for various uses. Registration of chemical importers following international standard is important.
The private sector needs to know technology to transform production structure, adopt new business models and innovate ways to identify new sectors while the public sector needs to define tax structure, formulate regulations, and provide incentives. There is a need to work in a collaborative manner and design investment plan in new sectors so that we can keep our planet clean, liveable and create new types of jobs for the youngsters.
All the SDG goals and indicators are linked with each other, therefore, we do not need to focus on all the goals rather we need to identify the goals which can be achieved by 2030 and can cover a major portion of all the goals.
Ferdaus Ara Begum is Chief Executive Officer at Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD).
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