Non-state actors including NGOs, think tanks, media and private sectors, in developing countries, like Bangladesh, are playing a critical role in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They are contributing in this SDG journey through prioritising development agenda, implementing the targets, monitoring the delivery and ensuring accountability in the overall process. Their contribution in the development discourse needs to be appreciated properly so that the governments and international development partners can forge a comprehensive strategy for SDG delivery.
These observations were made at a dialogue in New York on 11 July 2019 titled “Addressing an Understated Issue in the SDG Discourse: Contribution of the Southern Non-State Actors”. The dialogue was organised jointly by Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Concern Worldwide, Oxfam International and The Hunger Project. The event was organised to develop an improved understanding on the significant role played by the non-state actors of developing countries in implementing the SDGs.
The Citizen’s Platform took an initiative earlier this year to track the progress of SDGs in Bangladesh and capture the state of contribution non-state actors in the SDG implementation process. The Platform has prepared SDG progress review reports on six goals and an overview report on the six SDGs identified for this HLPF 2019. A volume comprising executive summaries of these seven reports was shared at this dialogue to draw on global perspectives on Southern contributions in implementing the SDGs.
Mr Towfiqul Islam Khan, Senior Research Fellow, CPD, made the keynote presentation at this event. His presentation focused on tracking the changes in CSO priorities following launch of the SDGs, identifying the CSO approaches and interventions in the area of “leave no one behind” and, developing a framework for assessing contributions of the CSOs in delivering the SDGs.
Mr Md. Israfil Alam, MP, as panelist from Bangladesh, said that the non-state actors in Bangladesh have been contributing in national development since the independence of the country. The government is very willing to create more space and proper recognition of their contributions. He advised the Non-state actors to focus more on actions than providing recommendations.
Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, Convenor of Citizen’s Platform and Distinguished Fellow of CPD, chaired the dialogue. He said, there is a lack of clarity about the role of non-state actors not only among the policymakers but also among the community of non-state actors. At this fourth year of the SDG journey, when the SDG Summit coming up, it is an opportunity to reflect upon the appreciation and adequacy of the role of non-state actors in delivering the SDGs.
While speaking as a panelist, Ms Minh-Thu Pham, Executive Director, Policy, United Nations Foundation, focused on the access of non-state actors to the policymakers and international stakeholders. She suggested the non-state actors to be more active in designing effective advocacy mechanism towards influencing policies and adequate utilisation of their working space.
This dialogue was organised during the meeting of the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) 2019 when all global and national stakeholders of SDGs are now in New York. The dialogue was participated by SDG experts and practitioners from various global and national development organisations.
Ms Colleen Kelly, Chief Executive Officer, Concern Worldwide U.S. delivered welcome remarks as the host organisation of this event. Mr Peter Taylor, Ph.D., Director, Strategic Development, International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Mr John Coonrod, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, The Hunger Project, Ms Áine Fay, President, Concern Worldwide, U.S., Mr Dipankar Datta, Ph.D., Country Director, Oxfam in Bangladesh, Ms Shannon Kindornay, Director, Research, Policy and Practice, Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC-CCCI), delivered their remarks as panelists of the event.
Mr Zakir Hossain, Chief Executive, Nagorik Uddyog, Mr Nazmul Ahsan, Manager – A4I Project, ActionAid Bangladesh, Ms Samia Afrin, Project Director, Naripokkho, among others, attended the dialogue as representatives from Bangladesh.