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News of the week: Bangladesh’s SDG progress

THE Sustainable Development Goals emerged at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. The purpose was to produce a set of universal goals that would help combat the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges that face the world. Action plans on the basis of the progress made is required  to achieve the goals by 2030.

The SDG Bangladesh Progress Report 2020 of the Planning Commission comes up with the progress made so far.

Goal 1 to 6: No poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality and clean water and sanitation: There were 31.5 per cent population below the upper poverty line in 2010, but the figure came down to 24.3 per cent in 2016. Undernourished population were 16.4 per cent in 2016, but the figure came down to 14.7 per cent in 2017. The under-five mortality rate was 125 in 1995, but it came down to 28 in 2019. The incidence of malaria was 4.3 per 1000 in 2015, which reduced to 1.6 per 1,000 in 2019.

Now, 74.5 per cent of the children are developmentally on track in health, learning and psychosocial well-being with 71.4 per cent males and 78 per cent females. The adult literacy rate was 53.5 per cent in 2005 but 73.9 per cent in 2018. Bangladesh is ranked in the 68th position among 153 countries in 2014 in the Global Gender Gap Index but the rank improved to the 50th position in 2019. Now, Bangladesh is the seventh in terms of women’s political empowerment. In 2015, 89 per cent of household members used improved sources of drinking water but in 2019, it increased to 98.5 per cent. In 2015, 63 per cent of household members used improved sanitation facilities, but in 2019, it increased to 84.6 per cent. In 2015, there was less tendency among households about hand-washing facility with soap and water, but in 2019, 74.8 per cent of the households are reported to be practising hand-washing facility with soap and water.

Goal 7 to 12: Affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry- innovation and infrastructure, reduced inequality, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production: In 2015, 74.44 per cent of people had access to electricity but now, more than 92 per cent of people have access to electricity. The proportion of population with access to clean fuels and technology was 7.24 per cent in 2000, but the figure increased to 19 per cent in 2019. The average annual growth rate of the real GDP per capita was 5.1 per cent in the 2014–15 financial year, but the figure increased to 6.91 per cent in the 2018–19 financial year.

The contribution of the manufacturing sector to the real GDP was 22.85 per cent in the 2017–18 financial year, but it reached 24.21 per cent in the 2018–19 financial year. In 2011, the net ODA received (in percentage of the gross capital formation) was 4.08 in 2019, but it is now 4.69. Bangladesh’s foreign direct investment for 2017 was $1.81 billion, but in 2019, it increased to $1.91 billion.

More than 60 per cent of the urban population is concentrated mainly to four metropolitan cities: Bangladesh has begun to work on smart city and take several initiatives both at the public and private levels. The city of Jessore has recently developed the first integrated landfill and resource recovery facility in Bangladesh under which it is recycling daily municipal wastes into biogas, electricity and fertiliser. The Sylhet City Corporation has also promoted the green city concept and the recycling of wastes into fertiliser at citizen’s initiative.

Goal 13 to 17: Climate action, life below water, life on land, peace and justice strong institutions, and partnerships to achieve the goal: The number of death, missing persons and directly affected persons attributed to disasters were in an alarming stage but the number has declined over the years. It now stands at 12,881 with a target of 1,500 by 2030.

No measures were previously taken to protect marine areas, but Bangladesh has successfully expanded its marine protected area with the introduction of four zones around the Swatch of No Grounds in the Bay of Bengal. The proportion of terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity covered by protected areas was 1.7 per cent in the 2013–14 financial year, but it was more than 3 per cent in 2018. As of 2015, the number of victims of human trafficking was 0.85 for every 100,000 population but as of 2018, it decreased to 0.61.

However, in case of Goal 1 to 6, progresses are on track but special attention is required to people below the upper poverty line. In case of Goal 7 to 12, a good progress is made but slow progress is observed in increasing foreign direct investments. Integrated landfill and resource recovery facility need to be spread to large cities. To build sustainable cities, Dhaka along with other large cities need due attention immediately. All the city corporations need to adopt the green city concept and recycle wastes into fertiliser. In case of Goal 13 to 17, progresses are noticeable but the number of victims of human trafficking need to be brought to zero.

Moreover, more national and international partnerships to achieve the goals are urgently required. Based on the above progress status, the government needs to reformulate goal-wise action plans to foster the progress and give a combined drive to achieve SDGs by 2030.


Md Mahmud Hassan Talukdar is an urban planner, policy researcher and development professional.


See original Article; New Age; July 22, 2022