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Bangladesh Citizen ’s Declaration 2017 on SDGs
Citizen's conference on SDGS - Leave no one behind

Bangladesh Citizen ’s Declaration 2017 on SDGs

Adopted at Citizen’s Conference on SDGs in Bangladesh 2017 held in Dhaka on 6 December 2017.
We, the citizens of Bangladesh, inspired by the spirit of our great War of Liberation, and in response to the call by the Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh have assembled here today at the event titled “Citizen’s Conference 2017: Implementation of SDGs in Bangladesh”. Given our commitments towards the pledge to “Leave No One Behind” of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we are joined today by hundreds of non-governmental organisations and private sector bodies associated with the Platform as well as more than a thousand people from different regions, professional background, age and occupations.Capitalising on our achievements in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), we are moving forward towards implementing the SDGs.
Over the past few decades, the Government of Bangladesh has taken a number of initiatives towards the overall development of the country. Nonetheless, absence of appropriate laws, inadequate implementation of existing laws, corruption, and above all, various social stigma and negative mind-sets, have inhibited access to equal opportunities by all the citizens of the country. Indeed, majority of the citizens are not being able to benefit from their rightful share of national achievements.
Consequently, inequalities – in their diverse manifestation – have not come down; rather vulnerabilities facing the marginalised and the deprived are on the rise. This goes against the spirit of the SDGs which have made a firm commitment to “Leave No One Behind.
” We remain resolute in our commitment to implement this ambitious aspiration in the context of Bangladesh.
Due to the existing economic, social and environmental disparities, the ambition of attaining inclusive growth in Bangladesh is facing enormous challenges. A close examination reveals that vulnerabilities of the people get aggravated due to lack of education and skills, inadequate health services, religious and ethnic differences, adverse geographical locations, economic deprivation, life cycle status, physical and mental disabilities, gender and transgender disparities, civil identity and lack of rule of law. Many of the affected people are also faced with multiple vulnerabilities, accentuating the effects of the others. Majority of children are deprived from adequate nutrition and quality education, while many of them often fall prey to violence. The youth in the country are also subjected to various vulnerabilities – unemployment is an acute problem for them, and as a result they are becoming alienated from family and society. Adverse geographical and environmental conditions are further deepening the state of vulnerabilities.
Immediate actions are needed in the country to end vulnerabilities and deprivation of all types and in all forms.
The civil society of Bangladesh has traditionally played an important and historic role over the past decades towards socio-economic development of the country. This positive role of the civil society is continuing at present, but has to be significantly strengthened in the future.
At various sessions of today’s Conference, a large number of specific recommendations have been put forward for eradication of economic, social, environmental and governance – related inequalities.
Being fully committed to implementing the aforesaid recommendations ourselves, we are also keen to forge partnerships with the government’s efforts in relevant areas.
From this Conference today, we pledge to build a just and right – based Bangladesh, where No One Will Be Left Behind. We will reflect this commitment in our activities, create lawareness among people and help improve their capabilities to work for the SDGs. Our platform will continue to work to coordinate the initiatives of our partners.
We firmly believe that
1. In order to ensure active participation of the marginalised, the deprived and the vulnerable groups in Bangladesh’s development, the following steps have to be undertaken:
a. Formulation of appropriate policy framework and specific work plans in favour of the “left behinds” to realise the SDG aspirations;
b. Full implementation of various government plans and laws that promote the interest of the marginalised groups ;
c. Inclusion of the civil society in formulation of the relevant policy framework;
d. Allocation of transparent and prioritised resources in the national budget to implement the envisaged work plans.
2. The action plans formulated for the marginalised communities have to be implemented through effective public – private partnerships. For this, the following will be needed:
a. Formulation of a government – non- state actor partnership policy;
b. Ensuring effective institutional framework;
c. Monitoring and evaluating the implementation progress in a regular basis, and ensuring active involvement of the civil society in the process.
3.Concrete measures will need to be undertaken for collection of disaggregated data and information concerning the vulnerable groups in the context of various indicators of the SDGs.
4. Legal protection of the marginalised and vulnerable people and rule of law must be ensured.
5.The draft “Anti-Discrimination Law” needs to be approved by the National Parliament, at the earliest, taking note of the feedbacks received in this regard.
6.Immediate and full implementation of the “Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord” and the “Vested Property Return Act” has to be ensured. All discriminatory laws need to be amended.
7. Take effective legal and institutional measures towards establishing equal rights of all citizens, including women, with regard to property rights and access to income.
8. A specific plan, with time – bound targets, has to be formulated to address youth employment, and its immediate implementation should be ensured.
9. The policy to give priority to marginalised, deprived and vulnerable groups in distribution of khas land has to be faithfully implemented.
10. Effective implementation of special laws and policies designed to support the vulnerable groups in the society has to be ensured.
These include, Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Act 2013; Persons with Disabilities Rights a nd Protection Act 2013; Disaster Management Act 2012; National Women Development Policy 2011; National Children Policy 2011; National Education Policy 2010; National Health Policy 2011; National Child Labour Elimination Policy 2010; Coastal Zone Policy 2005; National Plan for Disaster Management 2010 – 2015.
11. Opportunities must be created to nurture and promote freedom of thought and expression through, among others, ensuring the freedom of media and access to information for all.
12. All political parties, participating in the upcoming national elections, will explicitly commit in their manifestos their respective programmes to address vulnerabilities of the marginalised, deprived and vulnerable sections of the population.
Bangladesh is changing, and will evolve further. Together we will build a Bangladesh where No One Will Be Left Behind and no citizen will be deprived of the rightful benefits of national development and achievements. Successful implementation of this commitment will be our best homage to our Great War of Liberation.
The Conference
There is a need to formulate appropriate policy framework and develop specific action plan accordingly to ensure the inclusion of marginalised and vulnerable groups of the society in the development process in a move to attain the core aspiration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – ‘Leave No One Behind (LNOB)’. At the same time, strengthened partnership and coordination among government, private sector, Non-government Organisations (NGOs) and civil society should be ensured in achieving the SDGs in Bangladesh. Speakers made the remarks at the ‘Citizen’s Conference on SDGs in Bangladesh 2017’ held in Dhaka on 6 December, 2017.
The day-long conference, organised by the Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh, was attended by nearly 1500 participants from across the country including high-level government officials, representatives of partner organisations, vulnerable groups of the society, civil society members, private sector professionals, and youths.
The concept of development should be established based on the development of the marginal and disadvantaged groups, said Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, Convenor, Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh; and Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). Emphasising on the intensive role of the NGOs in attaining the SDGs, he proposed the government to create a ‘SDG Trust Fund’ in the next budget. He also stressed on strengthening the bonding and coordination among the non-state actors including private sector in the context of the SDGs.
The conference also adopted a ‘Citizen’s Declaration 2017’ putting forward some suggestions and a 12-point charter of demands. Some of the demands include active participation of the country’s marginal people in development work, full implementation of various government plans and laws that promote the interest of the marginalised groups, inclusion of the civil society in formulation of the relevant policy framework and allocation of transparent and prioritised resources in the national budget to implement the envisaged work plans.
The day-long conference started with the national anthem performed by a group of underprivileged children of BRAC school. An inspirational film on “No One to be Left Behind in Bangladesh”, directed by prominent film maker Mr Amitabh Reza Chowdhury, was also released at the opening session of conference.
Besides, salient features and key findings of a research report, prepared by CPD, titled ‘Quest for Inclusive Transformation of Bangladesh: Who Not to be Left Behind’ was presented at the conference. The CPD study introduced a vulnerability criteria that can be used worldwide for LNOB assessment for SDG implementation. According to the report, the rural population of the country continues to be left behind. At division level, Barisal is faring worse than the national average in 15 indicators of the SDGs, followed by Sylhet and Rangpur. Regions such as the Chittagong Hill Tracts are also prone to vulnerability, the report states. Moreover, wealth inequality is growing faster than income inequality, said Towfiqul Islam Khan, Research Fellow, CPD, while presenting the report.
In addition to these, four parallel sessions were also held during the day-long event. A number of contemporary issues under the overarching themes of economic, social, environmental and good governance were discussed in the sessions. Later, a summary of the discussions were presented during the plenary session of the conference.
Professor Rehman Sobhan, Chairman, CPD; Dr Shamsul Alam, Member (Senior Secretary), General Economics Division, Planning Commission, Ministry of Planning; Professor Emeritus Anisuzzaman, President, Bangla Academy; Advocate Sultana Kamal, Former Adviser to the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh, and Human rights Activist; Ms Rasheda K Chowdhury, former Adviser to the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh; Professor Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow, CPD; Mr Asif Ibrahim, Vice-chairman of Newage Group; Mr Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury, former Commerce Minister and Member, BNP Standing Committee; Mr Mujahidul Islam Selim, President, Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB); Ms Khushi Kabir, Coordinator, Nijera Kori; Mr Shykh Seraj, Director and Head of News, Channel I; Mr Amitabh Reza Chowdhury, Film maker; Ms Shaheen Anam, Executive Director, Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF); Dr Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB); and Mr Syed Nasim Manzur, Managing Director, Apex Footwear Ltd; also spoke on the occasion.
Also, there was an exhibition showcasing the contributions of the NGOs in implementing the SDGs. The day-long event concluded with a cultural function depicting the rich diversity of Bangladesh as well as various elements of the SDGs.
Source: Citizen’s Conference on SDGs in Bangladesh 201 7<[email protected]>