State-civil society mistrust could impede SDG attainment: experts

Lack of trust between the state and the civil society could be an obstacle in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in post-Covid-19 Bangladesh, said experts yesterday.

And for that, careful considerations have to be made to address any such trust issue as attaining the SDGs while tackling emerging challenges requires strong collaborative and combined efforts, they opined.

The views came at a webinar titled "Build Back Better: How Bangladesh Can Address UN SDGs in a Post-Pandemic World".

It was organised by the Center for Peace Studies (CPS) of the South Asian Institute of Policy and Governance at North South University (NSU) and the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) of Australia, the NSU said in a statement.

The participants also mentioned that time had come to adopt appropriate and long-term strategies to deal with the challenges of the SDGs posed by the Covid-19.

The pandemic has already created enormous difficulties in the health sectors, with other impacts on increased poverty, economic and gender inequality and so on, they said.

"We will have to adopt a strategy where we would have to ensure the overall protection of the people emphasising the economic growth at the same time," said Debapriya Bhattacharya, a distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue.

He also said a strategy of "don't push anybody behind" has to be followed all the time. 

Sudipto Mukerjee, resident representative of the UNDP Bangladesh, emphasised social safety net programmes for the marginalised people of society.

"The activities for achieving the SDGs in the post-Covid-19 period will have to be environment-friendly, unbiased and inclusive," he added.

The government should adopt a long-term and cooperative-based initiative, said Tapan Sarker, an associate professor at the Griffith University.

The Covid-19 has exposed the lack of trust on various health service providers. Therefore, the entire health sector will have to undergo a reform initiative, said Prof Salahuddin M Aminuzzaman of the NSU.

Environmental issues have to be prioritised as it is one of the integrated and essential agendas of the SDGs, said Sharif A Mukul, a senior research fellow of the USC.

The interests and rights of the people have to be prioritised while addressing the SDGs during the new-normal period, said Shahidul Haque, a senior fellow at the NSU's South Asian Institute.

There has to be an initiative for global dialogue if needed to address the challenges in a better way, he said.

The Covid-19 has forced a vast number of students into a challenging situation. Thus, prioritised efforts have to be taken to address such problems, said Prof Atiqul Islam, vice-chancellor of the NSU. He also put emphasis on ethical education.

Katherine Li, adviser to the CPS, gave the welcome speech while Bulbul Siddiqi, an associate professor at the NSU, moderated the webinar. 

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