The changing nature of the approaches to global development has drawn a lot of attention in recent times. To embrace inclusive and sustainable globalisation, countries are leaning towards innovative development approaches or frameworks that guarantee sustainable development.
In the present era, two giant global development frameworks have drawn all of us with their innovative appeal towards global development.
First, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is the successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), that pledged to deal with 17 goals, 169 targets and 232 indicators. As a globally agreed upon post-2015 development agenda, which has been accepted by all the member states of the United Nations, it aims to cover three dimensions of sustainable development through its proposed goals and targets by 2030.
These three dimensions are – economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. The second development framework is the Belt and Road Initiative, (BRI) which was proposed by China.
In many respects, these two development initiatives are mutually supportive development programmes. An important synergy between these two development initiatives is the emphasis on ownership.
The SDGs maintain a development logic of countries' ownership that differs from its predecessor MDGs. The BRI also follows the same development logic of partner countries' ownership, which differs from the long-standing Washington Consensus.
Ownership refers to the demand of self-possession. Since the epoch of de-colonisation, the concept of ownership or the sense of one's right over one's property became a globally acceptable political principle.
In the Belt and Road Initiative, China as a pioneering country leading this mega project is also following the concept of ownership that includes a set of principles and approaches.
In the Chinese understanding of ownership, government, civil society and private sectors is supposed to have a greater voice in development activities. The BRI's milestone document "Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Belt and Road" is proof that this mega project is in line with the concept of ownership.
The principles of the BRI support peaceful co-existence, mutual respect and non-interference. Through its principles, it respects different modes of development approaches chosen by different countries.
China supports "joint consultation, joint building and shared benefits" through which BRI is supposed to implement its ownership principles. By adopting the ownership logic, BRI espouses that any development initiative can only be implemented by the country itself. External imposition does not work because there is no 'one size fits all' development approach.
Therefore, China is putting forward the concept of ownership through the BRI.
Contrary to the MDGs donor-recipient framework, SDGs aim to follow countries' own internally driven development approach. This is a significant similarity between the two latest development discourses – SDGs and BRI.
With the discernible similarities with the SDGs, the BRI is also prominent for its remarkable offers of infrastructural development.
Currently, the world is facing a lack of investment in infrastructural development. A well-built infrastructural establishment is a must need for any kind of development. Therefore, China pledged around $1 trillion to invest in infrastructural development along with the BRI countries.
In BRI, infrastructure development is the core venture that is supposed to benefit all the BRI countries. This mega initiative aims to play a role in greater regional connectivity through greater infrastructural development, sustained trade relations and strengthened global partnership.
In regional connectivity, BRI offers to improve the infrastructure, connectivity and technical standard systems among the member countries. In the long run, it will help to form a regional infrastructure network.
In the SDGs, the importance of infrastructure is strongly emphasised for promoting growth and development. In particular, SDG nine is dedicated to develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans-border infrastructure.
If BRI's infrastructure projects are implemented properly, it can play a tremendous role in implementing SDGs' three dimensions of development, which are economic, social and environmental development.
In addition, apart from infrastructure development, BRI offers new avenues and opportunities for unimpeded trade by improving trade facilitation and promoting investment.
As a pioneer of BRI, China has already pledged to invest trillions of dollars to develop infrastructure and trade facilitation. Therefore, countries like Bangladesh will be largely benefited.
Being an active signatory of the United Nations' SDGs, Bangladesh has identified 39+1 SDG indicators among the 232 indicators to work on a priority basis.
These priority indicators will contribute to achieving 159 targets of SDGs, out of 169 targets. SDG one is about ending all forms of poverty everywhere. To achieve this particular goal, the country needs to ensure inclusive economic growth along with sufficient employment opportunity.
The BRI, in this regard, can play a major role. Since it pledges to finance many energy and infrastructural projects in Bangladesh - although only five are at the operational stage - huge Chinese investment through these projects can help in accelerating the country's economic growth.
Another important SDG for Bangladesh is the SDG seven. It is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy. China is investing and has pledged to invest in several energy projects in Bangladesh. Therefore, Bangladesh is expected to be benefitted, being a member of BRI, in achieving the SDG seven.
SDG nine is another important goal for Bangladesh. It stands for resilient infrastructure, industry and innovation. BRI can strengthen regional connectivity, as well as widen the scope for Government to Government (G2G) partnerships in large infrastructural and multilateral projects.
Hence, the BRI can be a platform for Bangladesh in achieving sustainable development by accelerating the achievements of SDGs.
Bangladesh needs to emphasise the implementation of the BRI projects. Through BRI-funded projects, Bangladesh can also be benefitted by enjoying its ownership status. The country can also look for opportunities in enhancing the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) inflow, bilateral and multilateral trade, tourism and other areas of cooperation among the BRI member countries.
Sinthia Chakma Krisna is an Assistant Professor at the Department of International Relations, Bangladesh University of Professionals and Shanjida Shahab Uddin is a Research Officer at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies.