The young group, the majority of the population in Bangladesh, is facing an increasing trend of the unemployment rate and the rate was highest among the educated youth prior to the hit of the Covid-19 pandemic, experts and researchers said at a virtual dialogue on Thursday.
They also said the pandemic has exacerbated problems like child marriage, high adolescent fertility rates, and low completion rate of secondary schooling which have been hindering the growth of the country's young population.
The Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh and ActionAid Bangladesh organised the virtual dialogue "Youth, SDG Accountability & the Voluntary Local Review: Situating Bangladesh's Experience within the Global Context."
The platform recommended the government introduce youth unemployment allowances as a means of social security considering the current youth situation in Bangladesh amid the pandemic.
Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, convenor of the Citizen's Platform for SDGs in Bangladesh, said, "Left behind the youth in SDG perspective especially women, indigenous group and the third gender, who are the less linked people are exposed in employability issues mostly during the pandemic."
He said, "Data, information and protecting civic space in the post-pandemic period needs to be focused on when the state may take a much more authoritarian approach in the upcoming days."
"In the absence of a robust global governance structure, this is not only an issue for the nation but also global in many ways," he added.
Najeeba Mohammed Altaf, programme associate of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), presented a keynote speech at the event. She said, "Although the youth at the national and local level was considered an important part of implementation and accountability in Sustainable Development Agenda-2030, it has not been implemented."
"The SDGs assume that the youth will play a crucial role in the Voluntary National Review (VNR) and other related accountability processes. Youths should be involved beyond passive consultation processes and be encouraged to actively provide inputs to local and national SDG accountability mechanisms," she said in the keynote speech.
"Rather than solely focusing on skills for employability, youth-based skills training programmes deployed by both government and NSAs (Non-State Actors) should also involve training to collect data, through modern ICT solutions, relevant to the protection of youth's well-being and rights," the keynote read.
Farah Kabir, country director of the ActionAid Bangladesh, stressed the localisation of the SDGs and said, "Unless it was implemented at the local level, it would not be implemented at the international level."
She also said that the whole society's inclusion should be a major goal that can be done via data and information sharing, capacity building, political commitment, environment and such others.
Researchers from several countries expressed their experience on the progress of SDGs in their locality at the event.
Riina Jussila, sustainable development expert of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), said, "Even within the context where both national and local levels of government don't believe in the SDGs and have cancelled the national census even before the Covid-19 pandemic, as a response there is still a 'spotlight report' to shadow the country's SDG implementation, citizen-generated data to replace the census and even their own set of indicators called the inequality map."
Estefania Charvet, head of programmes, Southern Voice Network, said, "Leveraging the usage of ICT is crucial to empowering the youths in SDG accountability. It's needed for disruption of education and lack of opportunities."
Suwaiba Yakubu-Jibrin, director of programme, ActionAid Nigeria said, "The paradigm of progression in Nigeria is one of ups and downs. The biggest issue is regarding the data gap and access to IT and the internet among the youth."
The virtual global session was moderated by Towfiqul Islam Khan, Senior Research Fellow of the CPD.