A stronger bonding between the government and non-state actors is crucial for Bangladesh to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said experts.
Despite remarkable achievements in a number of areas, there are still challenges the country will have to overcome to make its progress balanced, harmonious and sustainable, they also said.
In the last three years, the country progressed a lot in the fields of economic growth, income, access to education, employment, and reducing malnutrition and mortality. But, the achievements are not satisfactory, given the number of unemployed youths at present, they added.
They called for a stronger bonding among the government, the private sector and the civil society to continue the current pace of development.
The experts said all these at a conference organised yesterday by the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh in the city.
Shahriar Alam, junior minister for foreign affairs, was present at the opening session of the event as the chief guest.
He said the role of the non-state actors is very important in order to achieve the SDG targets.
"Bangladesh performs like a champion in achieving some of the targets," he said.
He also emphasised a stronger government relationship with the private sector and the civil society to overcome challenges like climate change, and ensuring inclusive development and decent employment.
Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said women's rights to reproductive health and other related issues, sanitation, safe drinking water and climate change are several among the critical issues.
Citing an example, he said the youth unemployment rate is almost three times higher than the country's average while educated youths are more unemployed than those in general.
Debapriya, also the convener of the Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh, pointed out that the country's allocation for education and health is insufficient.
"We cannot be a proud middle-income country by spending one percent of the GDP for health," he said and urged the government to increase allocation for these two sectors.
He termed the allocation of two percent of the Gross Domestic Product in education as meagre.
Sudipto Mukerjee, Resident Representative of the UNDP Bangladesh, said the government should have micro-level data to comply with the SDG theme.
"We have to go beyond gender- or region-based averages in terms of youth unemployment. Otherwise, a lot of people will lag behind," he said.
Md Khairul Islam, Water Aid's regional director for South Asia, said the government and international bodies should accommodate the civil society's voice in its policies.
"People are going abroad to learn how to dig ponds, and Wasa officials are going to Uganda to learn customer relationship development," he said.
Orla Murphy, country director of the Plan Bangladesh, said Bangladesh is lagging behind in gender index despite development in other fields.
Bangladesh has the highest rate of child and adolescent fertility in South Asia. One in every three girls becomes mother at 19 while one in every 10 girls delivers a child at 15.
Rasheda K Choudhury, a core group member of the Citizen's Platform, said the government is preparing Bangladesh Voluntary National Review for a smooth achievement of the SDGs.