Speech of the Hon’bleForeign Minister to be delivered at the Launching Ceremony of “SAARC Development Goals (SDGs): Bangladesh Country Report 2013”at the National Economic Council (NEC) Conference Room, Planning Commissionon 19 October 2014

Mr. Chairman and Member, GED, Planning Commission,
Hon’ble Chief Guest Minister for Planning
Hon’ble Advisor to the Prime Minister for International Affairs
Hon’ble State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Planning
Deputy Country Director of UNDP in Bangladesh, Mr. Nick Beresford
Secretaries to the Government, Excellencies,
Representatives from NGOs and Development Partners
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Assalamualaikum and a very Good Morning!

It gives me immense pleasure to be here atthe launching ceremony of the “SAARC Development Goals: Bangladesh Country Report 2013.I would like to convey my deep appreciation to the Planning Commission for producing the Second Country Report on SAARC Development Goals highlighting the achievements as well as identifying the areas and sectors where more attention is required to accelerate progress for attaining the targets set in the SAARC Development Goals.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me briefly touch upon the evolution of SAARC Development Goals (SDGs).SDGs are, in fact, regionalized form of the Millennium Development Goals covering 22 priority goals, eight of which pertains to livelihood, four to health, four to education and six to environment.

The 12th SAARC Summit held in Islamabad in January 2004 recommended the formation of an Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA) to prepare a comprehensive and realistic blue-print, setting out SAARC Development Goals (SDGs) and submit it to the 13th SAARC Summit. Subsequently, the Commission prepared a comprehensive report on the SAARC Development Goals and the SAARC leaders during the 13th SAARC Summit held in Dhaka in 2005 endorsed the SAARC Development Goals as recommended by the Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA).

The 3rd Meeting of Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA) held in Nepal on 25 January 2007 decided to prepare a report entitled “Taking SDGs Forward – on the elaboration done on the SDGs”. This report adopted 75 indicators for 22 SDGs and recommended that all the national governments would monitor and send annual progress reports based on these 75 indicators to the SAARC Secretariat, which will compile and analyze these reports and submit its findings to the annual meetings of the SAARC Poverty Alleviation Ministers. Bangladesh prepared the first Report in 2011 and this one is the second in the series.

Distinguished Guests,

The mainaim of the SAARC member states is to place the people at the core of development and to support the economy to meet the human needs more efficiently. Considering poverty and underdevelopment as a challenge in the lives of the people of South Asia, SAARC is making efforts to turnSouth Asia in to a poverty free and stable region.

Adoption of SDGs is the reflection of the SAARCleaders’ recognition of the regional imperative for galvanizing a popular aspiration of poverty free South Asia as well as the international imperative of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As we understand from the presentation to be made today, Bangladesh is well on its course to attain the targets of MDGs as well as many of the targets under the SAARC Development Goals (SDGs).Therefore, the report published and launched will help us to assess our position vis-à-vis the SAARC countries and also to prepare ourselves to meet the upcoming challenges under the wider purview of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Distinguished Guests,

Bangladesh is also well positioned to attain poverty targets. Bangladesh has halved the prevalence of poverty over the last two decades.Recent data reveal that national poverty headcount declined from 56.7 percent in 1991-92 to 31.5 percent in 2010, while the extreme poverty rate declined from 41 to 17.6 percent over the same period.

We believe that regional cooperation can play a vital role in achieving social development. To this end, we are working with all the countries in South Asia to pool our resources together to fight our common enemy-poverty. I also believe, with our collective efforts and enhanced efficiency in managing our resources, we would be able to eradicate poverty from our country. The Government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinais well on course to implement its Vision- 2021toturn Bangladesh into a middle income country and realising the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu’s dream of ‘Sonar Bangla’ or Golden Bengal.

Mr. Chairman,

Although we have achieved remarkable progress in many areas including poverty eradication, education, public health and environment we still have a long way to go. We should continue our fight against the menace of poverty. We should make every effort to ensure quality education, affordable health services to millions of the poor people as well as address the challenges of climate change. The GED may also have an action plan to address the challenges identified in the report.

Before I conclude, I would like to thank the organisers of the event including those who have put in considerable efforts in developing and bringing out this report, which could be used as a valuable reference document by various government and non-government agencies as well as resource persons.

I thank you all.

JoiBangla! Joi Bangabandhu!

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