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13 April, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 12 April, 2018 08:54:48 PM


Sustainable infrastructure for a ‘developing’ Bangladesh

Bangladesh has definitely achieved substantial economic success to qualify for a developing country, but this success could not help us consistently to avail a standard of life deemed really fit for a developing country
Polin Kumar Saha
Sustainable infrastructure for a ‘developing’ Bangladesh

The achievement of the country’s present status ‘developing Bangladesh’ forwards a lot of new responsibilities in many ways through which we may reshape our thinking, lifestyle, daily activities etc. Being with this upgraded status, we are now visioning a ‘developed Bangladesh’ by 2041, but this long journey requires some long targeted and concrete actions under a better development infrastructure. Presently, we are going through a transition period on the country’s present development trend in achieving the SDGs as well as upgrading the development status recognized by the UN (United Nations). Therefore, achieving both of these mega agendas of Bangladesh need to establish a sustainable infrastructure based on some new channels of different innovative tasks not only for sustaining the present development status, but also a continuation of the present progress in the future. We have certainly many positive reformations, or made several new policies considering the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), but the country’s overall development process is still questionable in regards with the enhancement of our infrastructure towards sustainability, which is being predominantly measured to enter into the developed countries in world standard.

Sustainable infrastructure carefully maneuvers through many new roles in aiming to improve the quality of life in developing countries. Bangladesh has definitely achieved a great economy to qualify for a developing country, but this economy could not help us consistently to avail a standard life as to be considered in a developing country. In fact, this greater economy must focus our overall quality life based on an integrated infrastructure of social, economic and environmental service benefits. For example, to clarify the statement, we see a large portion of our people still doesn’t have access to hygienic food, clean air, good road structure, walking space, good education and so on; even those people have sufficient money in hand for their livelihood. Every day we are used to hear various shocking news, which are definitely interfering our living standard and satisfaction in the context of quality life, even we have our satisfaction with the present income. In this regard, people are not always able to facilitate themselves in maintaining all the ways of their standard life until a state delivers some basic services (e.g. human rights, good governance, good infrastructure or an overall better system in citizen services) to each of the country’s citizens. Here it should not have any biases or controversy that can conflict with each of our interest to lead to an individual quality life. However, the issue reckons that the country’s present development process in many areas needs development in such a way, which may compartmentalize it as a unique and the best one in the competitive world. In an aspiration of that, we are now feeling a time bound and urgent needs of many quality services to the country’s citizens, so that our present economy is to be sustained for a long time while it may reduce the negative impacts of the unexpected or poor services as delivered by the state, organizations, or any individual.

For an overall human wellbeing, sustainable infrastructure cannot be sound for economic development only. In fact, the ‘developing Bangladesh’ has been developed through the basic development of economic infrastructure rather than developing an integrated development infrastructure standing on the three pillars of the sustainable development - social, economic and environmental services. The only basis of the country’s economic development cannot perform as a desirable sustainable infrastructure to deliver all the civilian services and improve the quality of civilian life. It is true, we have obviously achieved much confidence in our economic growth, but we are still far behind from an international standard of the state’s social and environmental services. So, we now understand the importance to establish a sustainable infrastructure in Bangladesh, which could be emphasized broadly in our capacity development, ethical development, job creation, and protection of all types of natural resources. The sustainable infrastructure of these particular issues should urgently be considered in the present development context, which may be designed categorically into many types of resources for an effective and efficient consideration of its specific financial value. Here we can briefly elaborate the above mentioned issues in a strategic framework as: what the sustainable infrastructure we may deserve for the future of Bangladesh, especially in the case of Bangladesh’s new entry into the world developing countries.

Social infrastructure: Our traditional social infrastructure broadly emphasizes some mega tasks, e.g. reducing poverty, climate vulnerability of people, gender inequality etc. To perform with these mega issues, unfortunately, our social institutions have not yet been established considering the widely accepted practices of our emotional intelligences, e.g. accountability, responsibility, honesty and participation. There is no doubt about that a very few people of our various institutions deserve these qualities in delivering their services to the citizens. Good governance is almost found with a very poor structure in the country’s citizen services, which is as reflected over the lack of practices of emotional intelligences at different levels. Over the situation, the sustainability of the present social infrastructure inclusively seeks for the capacity building and ethical development in our lifelong learning and services. Such infrastructure can meet some decisive factors in the following ways

Since we have a large manpower, we need to have strategy to develop this manpower as purposeful and resourceful, and utilize the whole community in all the service sectors to propel the present economy. Regarding this, we have to examine different levels of education system and its practical implication of other developed countries in the world. On the basis of their both academic and non-academic education system, we have to understand and analyze how their education system runs through changing with their development pattern in the long run. In developing our capacity building process, some guiding principles may be absorbed from the development policies of the present developed country. However, the capacity building must keep some considerable strategies regarding the qualities of ethical values (emotional intelligences!) in the integrated learning process. The outcome based education system must build a learning process from childhood education to future career paths on the basis of various practices, experiences and examples of emotional intelligence (e.g. ethics, honesty, transparency, accountability etc). Without a reflection of ethical development at an individual learning process, no curriculum should be exposed as a realistic curriculum in our overall capacity building to face the country’s present challenges. The following four areas may be adapted systematically in our learning strategy development and its systematic implication in both academic and non-academic sectors: 1) stakeholder participation in strategy planning and decision making; 2) integrated planning, analysis and policies through vertical and horizontal alignment and partnerships; 3) framing crosscutting policies that would facilitate countries and the region; and 4) monitoring, evaluation, reporting, and accountability processes either in individually, institutional (academic and non-academic) or community level. This is a primary strategic framework for capacity building, and the pathways of this framework activity can be accomplished on how the implementing process and gaps in these four themes are identified and, or recommended.

Economic infrastructure: The country’s sustainable infrastructure is found positively in our economic growth, caused by a significant portion of the remittance and exporting readymade garments. Even this successive matter grows our GDP up to achieve our current ‘developing’ status; but creating job opportunities and income generating sources are not truly found as a balanced way in all the regions of the country. For example, our many farmers do not get proper return of their investment in different agricultural productions. Every year, we are wasting a huge quantity of seasonal crops due to lack of our insufficient preservation system, industrial processing and supply chain management in most cases. All over this basis, our prospective economic infrastructure should be developed and sustained broadly by creating more jobs exploring the rural opportunities and relevant ‘green’ investment/factors as mentioned in the SDGs. Policy reformation of the green economy refers to the green job positions that may focus on five key thematic areas corresponding to the SDGs - 1. climate adaptive technology and resilience of the poor considering their vulnerability in the context of social, economic, and environmental shocks and disasters (SDG 1.5), 2. skills and work opportunity with green investment (SDG 4.7), 3. access to renewable energy (SDG 7.1 and 7.2), 4. green enterprises and entrepreneurship (SDG 8.3 and 8.5), and 5. sustainable production and consumption mainly through advanced waste management, product processing, product development, supply chain management and recycling systems (SDG 12.2 and 12.5). Many actions regarding these sectors are not new in Bangladesh, but working with many new channels of these issues can strengthen our integrated economy to be sustained on the present growth.

Environmental infrastructure: Protection and conservation of natural resources are very important in the context of our geographical location, climate vulnerability and incidence of frequent disasters. Moreover, we can maximize the achievements of SDGs through our nature based multidimensional actions. However, the sustainable infrastructure in our environment can be developed by raising awareness of four selected conservation methods under the local natural resources - 1. conserving local/own environment (e.g. increasing long grassy/flowers/tree areas on rooftop and surrounded place of households, not polluting land/air/water body by using natural pesticides, not cutting hill tracts, participating in cleanup of wastes in pond/lake/river/beach side, rainwater harvesting etc.), 2. joining the collaborative efforts (e.g. developing partnerships with environmental activists or any other groups/individuals who are willing to work for nature, volunteering with an environmental organization, raising awareness of natural threatening through social media by using photos/videos/facts, create or sign a petition through online/media in response to a meticulous threat to the nature), 3. reducing carbon footprint (e.g. conserving household water with shorter shower/innovative technologies, using less energy with energy saving technologies, using biodegradable products for cleaning/carrying, travelling with bicycle/green transportation, more walking, adopting solar/wind based heating /cooling system etc.), and 4. consuming sustainable food (e.g. growing and eating more organic foods, promoting green manufacturing/processing of food, depending on local/seasonal food, buying products from the trusted retailers etc).

Finally, the sustainable infrastructures looks like a holistic development approach considering the lots of targets and indicators as discussed so far. In following that the guiding principles should be well defined in different phases of a project development, e.g. planning, innovation, design, operation and maintenance. Ultimately, the new sustainable infrastructure will promote the country to be sustained on the present economy as well as transform us from lower to middle income, or to a developed country in the nearest future.

The writer is Senior Research Associate and Sustainability professional at BRAC Research and Evaluation Division.

E-mail: [email protected]



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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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