The world has adopted a bold new agenda to end poverty and preserve the planet. The ambitious 15 year plan, adopted unanimously by 193 member states of the UN, comes with great challenges, the biggest of which is funding the efforts to realise the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are accompanied by 169 specific targets. Implementing the goals is expected to cost a whopping $3.5 trillion to $5 trillion every year until 2030. Member states will therefore have to now work out the details of how this huge amount will be raised. This will no doubt, involve significant financial commitments from international financial institutions as well as sincerity of all nations to spend available funds as efficiently and as transparently as possible.
For Bangladesh specifically, it is laudable that the country has made significant inroads into several areas of social development. This includes decreasing child mortality, increasing enrollment of girls in school, successful disaster management, achieving food self-sufficiency and reducing extreme poverty. It is however, important to acknowledge that it is not enough to just meet goals that are measured in numbers – the ultimate target has to be to bring qualitative strides in each area of development.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks in the way of realising SDGs is widespread corruption in every sphere of development. This is true of most developing nations that all too often are held back by poor governance. Most of these countries, Bangladesh included, are working hard to fight poverty through innumerable projects and programmes. But unless there is a sincere effort to eradicate the systemic bottlenecks, such efforts will be nullified and the prospect of meeting the SDG targets will be all the more difficult.