SDGs implementation pathway: A whole society approach – II

Shamsul Alam | Published: December 28, 2018 21:20:31 | Updated: January 01, 2019 18:28:05

MONITORING AND EVALUATION FRAMEWORK OF SDGS DEVELOPED: The Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Framework of SDGs (GED, 2018) has been developed to track progress on implementation and achievement of SDGs in Bangladesh in the next 13 years. Several issues need to be highlighted before discussing the M&E framework.

First, because of the wide range of aspects of the economy and its depth that need to be measured to assess the progress on SDGs, the set of indicators to measure progress is diverse and complex. In many cases a target is not measured by a single number rather by multiple numbers depending on the level of disaggregation. Secondly, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) did not generate data on many aspects of the economy to meet the data requirements of our national development plans and consequently data on many indicators are simply not available. Thirdly, data are generated by BBS or other government agencies through periodic surveys. The periodicity varies from five years for Household Income and Expenditure Survey to three years for Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey. Interestingly, BBS has been conducting Quarterly Labour Force Survey which it used to conduct traditionally at three years interval. Fourthly, data generation through more frequent surveys as well as generation of more disaggregated data (such as spatial, gender, age-group, ethnicity, employment status) will require increasing financial and human resources, logistics support  as well as use of modern technology.

The monitoring framework provides baseline data for each indicator for which data are available and the target for the terminal year of SDGs, i.e., 2030 with two milestones -2020 and 2025, in the intervening period. Information on relevant agency currently responsible for generating data along with the ministry/division to which the agency belongs as well as the title of the publication where the data appear are provided for quick and easy identification of data sources.

Lacking availability of data uniform baseline could not be set for all the indicators. The indicators for which annual data are available 2014-15, the final year of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), has been taken as the baseline. On the other hand, if an indicator does not have data for 2014-15, the latest available survey data is taken as the baseline. The baseline data is set for 127 indicators and M&E framework is designed for 108 indicators. Milestones are yet to be set for some of the indicators that are of qualitative in nature. Following the classification in the Data Gap Analysis the indicators are classified into readily available, partially available, and not available data. Presently, 64 indicators are readily available, 58 indicators are partially available, and 110 indicators are not available.  Lacking data from national sources, international sources like World Bank (WB), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Health Organisation (WHO), and International Labour Organisation (ILO) have been utilised to set baseline for 22 indicators. It is to be noted that the 'not-available' category includes 81 indicators for which metadata is yet to be finalised by the Inter-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs). This indicates the enormity of the data generating task confronting the country.

Some other aspects of data in terms of availability and sources may be highlighted.  First, an analysis of data availability by Goal shows that while SDG 3, SDG 4, SDG 9, SDG 5, SDG 8, SDG 17, SDG 7 and SDG 2 are in better situation in terms of data availability while data availability is challenging for SDG 12, followed by SDG 14, SDG 13, SDG 11, SDG 16, SDG 10 and SDG 15.

Secondly, majority of data of SDGs will be generated by the Statistics and Informatics Division (SID); out of 244 indicators, 105 will be provided by them. Ministry of Environment and Forest will be the second largest data provider (42), followed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (34). Economics Relations Division will provide information for 28 indicators and Finance Division for 20.   

Thirdly, considering agencies or units of Ministries/Divisions that will be responsible for data generation for SDGs monitoring it is observed that BBS, the National Statistics Office (NSO0 of the Government, will be the single largest institution to produce reliable and disaggregated data timely. BBS will be followed by the Department of Environment (DoE), Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Bangladesh Forest Department (BFD), National Institute of Population Research and Training (NIPORT) and Bangladesh Bank (BB).    

SDGS FINANCING STRATEGY: Implementation of ambitious SDGs requires huge amount of resources during the 2017-2030 period. Mobilization and effective use of this resource pose considerable challenge to the developing countries. Bangladesh is committed to achieving SDGs and hence needs to estimate the amount of resources that will be required, financing sources, and financing instruments and strategies. The "SDGs Financing Strategy: Bangladesh Perspective" prepared by the General Economics Division of the Planning Commission provides an estimate of the annual resource gap and an opportunity to revise the government interventions and financing strategies accordingly. The estimates show that an additional amount, over the current provision of investment related to SDGs by public sectors and external sources, would be US$ 928.48 billion at 2015-16 constant prices. This amount would be required for SDGs implementation over the period of FY 2017-FY 2030, which is 19.75 per cent of the accumulated gross domestic product (GDP) under the 7th Five-Year Plan (FYP) extended growth scenario. The annual average cost of SDGs would be US$ 66.32 billion (at constant prices) for this period. The costing exercise covers close to 80 per cent of the 169 targets of SDGs.

The study has suggested five potential sources of gap financing. These are: Private Sector Financing, Public Sector Financing, Public-Private Partnership (PPP), External Financing comprising Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and foreign aid and grants, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).On average, public sector would account for around 34 per cent of the financing requirement, whereas private sector has the share of around 42 per cent during 2017-30 period. The Goals and associated targets of SDGs have large public goods aspect whose provision would require higher public funding relative to private sector's contribution. The average share of PPP is 6.0 per cent. The external sources would constitute close to 15 per cent where FDI would make up 10 per cent and foreign aid would comprise 5.0 per cent of financing gap. Finally, the NGOs would contribute around 4.0 per cent for the same period.

ASSIMILATION OF SDGS TARGETS IN PERFORMANCE AGREEMENT: The Government has introduced Annual Performance Agreement (APA), a results-based performance management system, to help ensure a systematic review of all Ministries/Divisions to generate more accountability and effectiveness in public organisations. Under this system an Annual Performance Agreement is signed between the Secretary of concerned Ministry/Division and the Cabinet Secretary. The APA is expected to enhance the performance of concerned Ministries/Divisions involved in SDGs implementation.

 APPROACH TO SDGS IMPLEMENTATION: 'WHOLE OF SOCIETY' APPROACH: The Government of Bangladesh has consistently applied "whole of society" approach to the preparation of national development plans and policy documents of national importance. The Government has been applying this approach throughout the process of SDGs preparation. For example, the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Bangladesh Proposal to UN (GED 2013) was prepared with inputs from multiple stakeholders including national experts, private sector and CSO (civil society organisation) representatives, and development partners.

The Government has extended this strong tradition to the implementation of ambitious SDGs. Several consultations on 'Stakeholders' Engagement on the SDGs Implementation in Bangladesh'  have been held with representatives from NGOs, CSOs, businesses, development partners, ethnic minorities, professional groups, labour associations, women network and the media. The consultations have sought to raise more awareness, interest and commitment to create more engagement from all stakeholders towards attaining SDGs.

In view of the critical role of the private sector in attaining SDGs consultation meetings between the Government of Bangladesh, private sector and the UN System on the 'Role of the Private Sector in Facilitating the SDGs'  have been held to highlight the broad outlines for private sector actions on SDGs implementation. The Government also appreciates the value of the media in creating awareness of people that the agenda guiding development up to 2030 is sustainable development. Effective and coherent role of both print and electronic media in creating SDGs awareness and branding of success would be strongly needed.

PREPARATION OF THE FIRST PROGRESS REPORT: The first progress report on SDGs implementation in Bangladesh covering two years (2016, 2017) has been prepared following a rigorous methodological framework. This involves a thorough understanding of the 7th Five Year Plan document, and the documents related to SDGs prepared by General Economic Division of the Planning Commission including Monitoring and Evaluation Framework of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Bangladesh Perspective (2018), National Action Plan of Ministries/Divisions by Targets in the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (2018), Data Gap Analysis for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) : Bangladesh Perspective (2017) and SDGs Financing Strategy: Bangladesh Perspective (2017).

Significant efforts were made to gather data on the indicators from Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the national statistical organisation (NSO), and other concerned Ministries/Divisions. Data and information have been collected also from international sources such as World Bank, UN, FAO, ILO and OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) to fill the data gap. At a later stage further updated data were provided by concerned Ministries/Divisions during the Conference on SDGs Implementation Review (SIR) in July 2018.

Following the long established tradition of GED of involving stakeholders in the various stages of preparation of national policy and plan documents, couple of stakeholder consultations were organised. The valuable inputs obtained from these consultations have helped improve the document. The first progress report is available at GED.

CONSTRAINTS ON SDGS IMPLEMENTATION IN BANGLADESH: COMPLEXITY OF TARGETS: In many cases the targets are complex and emphasise many different aspects. It may be said, SDGs cover too many targets to attain at a time. Whole SDGs were seemingly academically done rather than considering practical aspects of implementation. Nonetheless, achievement of broad goals/targets will make our planet a much better place to live. Achieving a particular target requires investment which can contribute to improvement in some aspects of the target but not all. In such cases investment might have to be spread over several projects/programmes increasing the investment size. Taking a simple example, Target 1.1 stipulates eradication of poverty for all people by 2030 and in indicator 1.1.1 people are classified by gender, age, employment status and geographical location (rural/urban). Currently Bangladesh generates data on poverty at national level and by geographical location, education level of household head and sex of household head.

SYNERGY AND DISSONANCE OF SDGS: Designing and implementing policies of SDGs by target year of 2030 poses considerable challenge for planners and policymakers. Many of the SDGs are linked, sometimes in subtle ways. SDG policy in one sector can cause unanticipated underachievement in another sector. For example, if a nation (least developed or developing) emphasises Goal 8 through private and public investment for accelerated growth for job creation, may affect rise of inequality concerning Goal 10 as of usual development plan. Conversely, SDG policy in one sector can cause synergistic overachievement in another sector. Policies and programmes to achieve SDGs need to take into account these complex linkages characterized by synergy and dissonance.

LIMITATIONS OF DATA: Given the all-encompassing nature of SDGs even the developed countries face the problem of adequate data for monitoring implementation of SDGs. The problem of lack of sufficient data is more acute in developing countries like Bangladesh. The Government has conducted a Data Gap analysis which identifies the nature and extent of limitations of data for monitoring SDGs. Of the 232 indicators, data for 70 indicators are readily available from existing data generating system (of course, for some with lag of two/three years). Data for another 108 indicators can be generated by modifying data from existing censuses, surveys and MIS (management information system), and that would require time to get required data. Whatever data are available they are, in many cases, not available at the required level of disaggregation. Further,  as data are generated at different time intervals - from every quarter (Labour Force Survey) to every five years (Household Income and Expenditure Survey) to every ten years (Population and Housing Census), at any point of time many indicators lack up-to-date data making uniform assessment of implementation progress of SDGs obviously difficult.

Lack of data also affects design and implementation of projects/programmes. The situation of a particular indicator cannot be assessed in the absence of data and evidence-based policies and programmes cannot be designed to influence this indicator in the desired direction.

The first Progress Report could not present uniform in-depth assessment of all SDGs because of complete lack of data and lack of up-to-date data for the relevant indicators. Where data for two consecutive years from the start of SDGs are available simple linear projection has been used to see if the progress is on track to hit the 2020 milestone. In other cases data from SDGs period have been used in combination with data from the latest years of MDGs period to make such a judgment. In the case of a single data point the report abstains from making any quantitative judgment.

The Government is fully aware of the paucity of relevant data and has been undertaking measures to generate timely and quality data and update data at regular frequency. Notwithstanding the data inadequacies, GED decided to go ahead with the task of the first evaluation report to reveal the inner problems of implementation and to be aware of limitations. This demonstrates the level of commitment of the government to its pledges to the international community to take all the necessary steps to design and implement policies and programmes and evaluate progress and adopt necessary actions to be on the right course.

The first Progress Report could be a source of motivation for all stakeholders to undertake actions to enhance performances in SDGs implementation to achieve the milestones in the course of achieving the SDGs by the deadline of 2030. To capture the rate of progress existing weaknesses in data generation regarding timeliness, frequency, quality and disaggregation have to be addressed adequately and perhaps urgently.

Dr. Shamsul Alam is Member (Senior Secretary), General Economics Division (GED), Bangladesh Planning Commission.

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