In 2015, the global leaders in their vision of building a hunger and poverty free world adopted four UN resolutions, which were (1) Sendai Disaster-Risk Reduction, (2) Accra Agreement on Financing for Development, (3) Sustainable Development Goals and the (4) Paris Agreement. These goals and targets are not only inspirational but also achievable and would require a massive mobilization of resources and technology transfer. To have a pro-people, pro-planet, a more inclusive, peaceful and sustainable world for all where ‘no one is left behind,’ it is imperative to have a rock-solid partnership and political commitment. Also, building a healthy relationship with governments, NGOs, the private sector, business entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and academics is also of utmost importance. Unlike MDGs, these goals are for all countries of the world starting from the rich to the poor.
The Development Partners (DPs) agreed to provide 0.7% of their Gross National Income (GNI) as Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2002. Unfortunately, only six countries were able to contribute while others were left far behind. However, the total ODA at the moment is around $156 billion annually (average of last ten years) allocated to the Developing countries (DCs) which is only 3.1% of the funding requirement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As per various estimates, it will require $5 to $11 trillion annually to achieve the SDGs. The contribution of DPs to 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) is around $38-$42 billion which is less than 1% of the requirement. However, major events around the world, mainly the election result in the USA along with Brexit in the UK, have reduced the possibilities of the DPs providing more funds for the SDGs.
Apart from this, other ways of financing the SDGs like carbon pricing, tax on billionaires, and a reallocation of funds from defense expenditures could easily provide a couple of trillions of dollars for the initiative. Besides, a percentage investment of the global $23 trillion bank savings, a proportion of $400 trillion private sector resources and a redistribution of wealth from the 85 individuals who own half of the global wealth, could make up for the needed funding. Recently, a $100 billion BRICS and a $40 billion AIIB have been set up and are acting as the newest additions to mobilizing funds in the southern countries. Moreover, transfer of the cost effective and easily adaptable southern technologies could also play a significant role in achieving SDGs.
The trade and investment within the southern countries have dramatically increased in recent years vis-a-vis others, which makes it a perfect time to explore and get the most out of their untapped potential. Therefore, to explore this potential, Bangladesh has been suggested to form a ‘Forum of Development and Finance Ministers of the Southern Countries’ in the context of SDGs. In March 2019, the leaders of the Southern countries will celebrate their 40th anniversary in Buenos Aires, and Bangladesh with the support of NAM may take the lead to establish such a Forum of SSCs to discuss, debate, and explore the critical issues of the South.
Moreover, because of the uncertainty of the largest economy in the world (US), other economies including UK and EU may also undergo a spill-over effect. The rising protectionism may force many advanced countries to divert away from their historical commitments of contributing to the SDGs and financing the DCs. In contrast, the economies of the emerging countries like China and the BRICS are comparatively in a better state than the others. Given the scenario, it may be prudent and realistic to promote a South-South cooperation. However, a South-South cooperation can only be complementary to a North-South triangular cooperation and not a substitute. This collaboration may also bring about a ‘win-win’ situation for all, as far as the cases of the CAR and Sierra Leone are considered.
To meet Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Vision 2021 and Vision 2041 of achieving SDGs, Bangladesh is estimated to collect an amount of Tk 4,98,90,000 crore ($6.23 trillion) that will be translated into constructing 1,800 Padma bridges. The government of Bangladesh (GOB) proposes to realize 85% of this fund domestically while 10% will come from abroad. It also postulates that 42% of it will come from the private sector which means the GOB has to spend around ($5.3b) each year till 2030. Most of the resources have to be managed domestically through innovative financing to achieve the SDGs, which is a daunting task indeed. However, to be on the brighter side, Bangladesh has taken the challenge seriously and has formed a powerful new position in the Prime Minister’s Office, titled ‘Coordinator of the SDGs Affairs.’ Also, it established a 16-member ‘SDGs Implementation and Monitoring Committee’ consisting of senior bureaucrats representing all relevant departments or ministries. It also assigned 40 Ministries and Divisions, plus another 61 Ministries, Divisions and other Independent Institutions to do the necessary mapping regarding 17 SDGs, 169 targets and of course, 230 indicators.
The massive resource requirement stands as a major hurdle for many nations who have targeted to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Therefore, it may be recommended for the UN Secretary General to arrange a Summit of the Heads of the States and Governments and the signatories of the four resolutions to debate the ‘means of implementation’ of the SDGs at the earliest. Otherwise, we are afraid that the lofty ideals and aspirations of the global leadership and people may remain an ‘unfinished agenda’ even beyond 2030.
The writer is a Professor Emeritus, and former Bangladesh Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN.