Attending senior ESCAP/ADB/UNDP officials, resource persons, participants from home and abroad, other distinguished guests; a very good morning and my heartiest welcome to you all in this inaugural session of the South Asian workshop on accelerated achievement of MDGs and the post 2015 development agenda.
I am happy to see Bangladesh chosen as venue for this South Asian sub-regional workshop aimed at identifying the key South Asian priorities in accelerating attainment of MDGs and in charting the post 2015 sustainable development agenda.
Over the past few years Bangladesh’s government and civil society have engaged extensively in participative consultations towards charting priorities and progress paths of rapid poverty eradication with broad based inclusive sustainable social and economic progress, by 2015 and beyond.
Outputs from these consultations went into drafting of the government’s Five Year Plan and Perspective Plan spanning MDG years up to 2015 and beyond. Bangladesh is on track for attaining or exceeding poverty reduction and most other national level MDG goals, with steady trend of inclusive economic growth supported interalia by a continuing pronounced pro-poor stance in social sector public expenditure, as also by the social responsibility driven financial inclusion and green banking campaign orchestrated by Bangladesh Bank (BB), the country’s central bank in its somewhat unorthodox developmental role.
In these developmental role initiatives BB is upholding financing flows to output and employment generating SMEs, and to green initiatives like renewable (solar/biomass based) energy generation, effluent treatment, adoption of new emission minimizing output practices and so forth; besides promoting adoption of energy efficient, emission minimizing in-house practices and processes in banks and financial institutions themselves. Both Rio+20 and COP18 conferences expressed appreciation for BB’s green banking initiatives, I happened to be one of the few central bank Governors attending these conferences.
Between now and 2015, Bangladesh authorities will need to focus on hastening action on the slower progress areas of MDG attainment; particularly on universal health care/coverage and non communicable diseases in the unfinished health agenda. For years further forward beyond 2015 there is broad social consensus for fastest feasible total eradication of poverty and deprivation being the overarching priority for Bangladesh’s post 2015 sustainable development agenda; in a peaceful harmonious local and global environment. Harnessing the creative energies of broad masses by opening up equitable access to education and training on knowledge and skills needed in the twenty first century global labor market will be a keystone in our development strategy.
The UN MDGs provided a useful unifying campaign theme and framework for concerted thrust of global development cooperation in combating poverty, deprivation and environmental degradation. Not unusually for such broad-canvas initiatives, engagement levels and outcomes have in some respects fallen short of expectations; notably interalia in support levels from the global community for the development initiatives, and in weaknesses of global governance in safeguarding peace and global financial stability.
At the country level, reform initiatives related to MDG attainment have often tended to be bogged down by resistance from the beneficiaries of status quo. Activating coalitions of likely beneficiaries of the planned reforms may perhaps be a possible countering strategy against vested interests in status quo. Success in fast tracking poverty eradication and sustainable development will hinge importantly on strong broad based civil society engagement at country level, and on heightened international support and cooperation at regional and global levels.
I presume that the sessions of this three day South Asian sub-regional workshop will glean lessons from the regional and country experiences and from the implementation pitfalls for UN MDGs, towards suggesting priorities and appropriate implementation strategies for post 2015 SDGs (sustainable development goals).
I expect that interactive deliberations of the participating South Asian development experts and policy practitioners with erudite resource persons from the UN system and elsewhere would make the workshop sessions rewarding experience and fertile ground for germination of innovative ideas.
I wish the best of success for this sub-regional workshop, and look forward to imaginative, insightful suggestions from it on ways of accelerating attainment of MDGs, and on the priorities and implementation modalities for post-2015 SDGs. I wish a pleasant stay at Dhaka and safe return journey for resource persons and participants from abroad. Let me conclude here with thanks to ESCAP for choosing Dhaka as the workshop venue; and with thanks to you all for your patient attention.
Note: keynote speech by Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr. Atiur Rahman at ESCAP/ADB/UNDP Sub Regional workshop on MDG attainment and post-2015 development agenda setting in South Asia held in Dhaka on February 9.