Bangladesh also 'Donor' now: UN resident coordinator

Bangladesh also ‘Donor’ now: UN resident coordinator


Dhaka – Bangladesh is traditionally known as a recipient of donors’ money but the United Nations resident coordinator in Dhaka says the trend has reversed and Bangladesh itself has bbecome a donoe. “We see Bangladesh is now becoming a donor to the UN,” Robert Watkins told on Thursday in an interview. “Bangladesh has given money to help the core funding of some of the UN agencies.”
He spoke to on the new UN Development Assistance Framework or UNDAF which was signed on Thursday with the government.
Watkins also talked about the new sustainable development goals or SDGs and its implementation.ecome a donor.
Through the UNDAF, the 14 UN agencies working in Bangladesh coordinate their works amongst themselves and also with the government.The agreement was generally prepared for five years. This time it was designed for four years as the UN wants to align it with Bangladesh’s development plan as well as SDGs.
Under the UNDAF, the UN pledged $1.2 billion for 2017–2020 which is slightly less than the $1.7 billion promised during the last five-year plan from 2012 to 2016.
Watkins said the UN is neither a donor nor an international financing institution.
“We seek funds from other governments and intergovernmental bodies and through a different mechanism. That funding is allocated to other countries including Bangladesh. We don’t have our own resources,” he said.
“But a lot of donor countries are affected by huge refugee crisis in Europe,” he said, adding that donors were also focusing on middle-eastern countries who are facing problems due to migrant or refugee crisis.
“Those countries have become crisis countries. People are running away from conflicts, impoverishment. It’s not countries like Bangladesh which is stable and progressing fast. And that’s why the UN is getting lesser money.”
Besides, the UN official said, Bangladesh has become a middle-income country. “There are lesser resources available for Bangladesh now (from the conventional donors). You crossed the threshold which is a huge line to cross.”
“It really puts Bangladesh in a completely different category. It’s a tremendous achievement. The reality is both positive and negative. It’s an achievement that Bangladesh has done largely on its own.”
“The negative aspect is that the donors are likely to give less money. That’s good that you don’t need donors’ money as much as you needed before. It still represents only 2 percent of the GDP which was even 50 percent 20 years ago.”
On the contrary, he said “almost 10 percent of the budget of the UNDP in Bangladesh this year comes from Bangladesh government”.
“It’s the highest ever money Bangladesh government has given to the UNDP. It’s a remarkable achievement,” he said.
“It’s a sign of the trust government puts on the UN. It’s also a sign that government has more resources. The government can take care of its own increasingly. We expect by 2021 this will be significantly much higher.”
Govt leadership of SDGs
The new UNDAF, which will come into effect from next year, is the first one in the new SDG era.
The top challenge to the SDGs is funding as, the UN says, traditional sources of revenue are not going to be enough. A lot of efforts are now being given to finding new sources of funding.
Watkins said Bangladesh should also look at different sources which include private sector funding and increasing tax collection.
He, however, said new challenges such as environmental challenges and diversification of the economy have also emerged.
“MDGs were very much driven by the UN, so we were working with countries demanding that this is your goal. Now it’s the reverse. SDGs’ ownership is very much with the government. So the UN is just to help them where we can.”
“Quality is a big difference between MDGs and SDGs,” he said and for that, the government has set up a “monitoring and evaluation” quality control system.
“Now the government has to take the leadership,” he said.
The UNDAF document, which aims for development leaving no one behind, has three focus areas – people, planet, and prosperity.
“Peace is implicit in each of the three areas. Without peace, no development can take place,” the resident coordinator said.
He, however, said the upcoming elections scheduled for 2019 or any other political issue was not included in the new UNDAF.
The UN tried to mediate talks between the bickering Awami League and the BNP before the 2014 general elections but failed.
“At this stage, it’s too early to say what the situation would be in terms of next elections,” Watkins said.
“But whatever we do, we do at the invitation of the government,” he said, adding that they engage with the election system only when the government seeks support, the report added.


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