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Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh organised a consultation meeting in Rangpur on Saturday, 4 June 2022 in Begum Rokeya Auditorium, RDRS, Rangpur. This is the first in a series of discussions and will be followed by consultations in Khulna and Tangail.

The objective of the Rangpur meeting was to exchange views with representatives from different sectors (such as minority communities, NGOs, civil society) to gain a better understanding of the extent of equal distribution of the development gains achieved in Rangpur and state of access to public resources by the “left behind” and “pushed behind” people of the region.

The five major clusters of issues which came up during the discussion included challenges in the areas of geo-locational aspects (including lack of Teesta water), disadvantaged communities and social cohort, the political economy of development activities, post-covid issues, and the state of civil society. Moreover, minority and disadvantaged communities, such as Dalit and Shawtal individuals highlighted their key areas of concern. There was also a lively discussion on the role of government and state infrastructures, policies, and capacity in development, and the obstacles faced therein. Further, the role of civil society in the region’s development, both in the last 10 years and going forward, was highlighted. The effect of the COVID pandemic on various communities was also discussed.

This discussion provided an opportunity to learn from the grassroots, their economic concerns and challenges of the region. In particular, the distorted implementation of development policies was found to be an obstacle for the standard of living in the region, despite the progress that has been made. The alienation of certain groups and lack of representation, both in economic policymaking and on the political front, was found to be a key concern amongst the participants. It was also shared that the political culture does not currently have space to reflect or represent the social consensus.

The meeting was attended by leaders of civic platform affiliates, social workers, human rights activists, teachers, entrepreneurs and businessmen, representatives of working class, NGO workers, representatives of LNOB groups, journalists and prominent members of civil society.

Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, Convenor, Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh and Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD); Mr Towfiqul Islam Khan, Senior Research Fellow, CPD and Mr Zakir Hossain, Chief Executive, Nagorik Uddyog were present at the discussion.