Highlighting three critical issues including fighting hunger and combating terrorism in the context of the post-2015 development agenda, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called upon the Asian and African leaders to renew their commitment to work together in achieving a peaceful and prosperous Global South.
“I believe, together we could build a stable, prosperous and just world – free from oppression, intolerance, violence and extremism,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said a set of transformative goals and targets are being identified in the context of the post-2015 development agenda.
“In this context, I would like to emphasize on three development issues: first – fight against hunger and inequality; second – combat terrorism and violent extremism; third – close and sustained cooperation,” she said.
The Prime Minister said this while delivering her statement at the plenary session II of the 2nd Asian-African Summit that began at Balai Sidang Jakarta Convention Centre here this morning.
Pointing out that durable peace and security are a precondition for sustainable development, she said indeed, the volatile global security situation continues to pose a significant challenge to international development.
In this connection, the Prime Minister reiterated her government’s steadfast commitment to maintaining a “zero-tolerance” policy towards all forms of terrorism and extremism.
“Terrorists have no religion or ethnicity. We remain firm in our resolve not to allow any terrorist individual or entity to use our soil against any heinous acts,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government is steadfast in tackling the anti-liberation forces who continue to remain active in destroying “the moderate, progressive and non-communal fabric of our nation”.
“My government is also reinforcing the forces of democracy, secularism and women empowerment to ideologically defeat terrorism and extremism,” she said.
To uphold peace and “rule of law” and end a “culture of impunity”, she said the government remains pledge-bound to bring to justice those who committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide during our War of Liberation in 1971.
Sheikh Hasina said South-South and triangular cooperation has immense potential to foster development, achieve peace and security, fight terrorism and violent extremism, as well as combat human trafficking and climate change consequences.
The Prime Minister mentioned that the South accounts for half of the world’s GDP, produces half of its economic output and conducts more than half of global trade.
“Therefore, the South-South cooperation is critical for attaining sustainable development and building resilience of Southern countries,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said despite remarkable development gains, 2.2 billion people of the world still live below the poverty level; more than 800 million people suffer from chronic hunger, and over 200 million people hard-hit by climate change.
“It is, therefore, critical that Southern economies work together to overcome the development challenges to ensure pro-people, pro-poor, pro-planet strategy,” she said.
With all these in mind, the Prime Minister said, Bangladesh is organizing a “High-level South-South and Triangular Cooperation in the context of the Post-2015 Development Agenda” next month in Dhaka.
“We look forward to having an engaged dialogue on all the above issues with your support, cooperation and participation,” she said.
Placing emphasis on cooperation about the migration issue, the Prime Minister said the world is now witnessing unprecedented human mobility and migration and these are recognized as key drivers and enablers of development process.
“In fact, the migratory forces are shaping economies and societies in many countries. South-South migration is a significant phenomenon. Cooperation among our countries in this area can bring significant development dividends,” she said.
While talking about climate change issue, Sheikh Hasina laid stress on strong commitment by all countries of the two continents to address climate change in the region.
In this connection, she said to address climate change; the government has introduced stress-tolerant crop varieties and set up the Climate Change Trust Fund with its own resources.
“However, it is not possible for a single country to tackle the climate change challenges. I look forward to seeing a strong commitment to address climate change in the region,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh’s own development paradigm is based on peace and development. “We believe, empowering people, particularly women, can add significant value to the progress and prosperity of the country,” she said.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh is experiencing impressive results in reducing poverty from 40 percent in 2010 to below 24 percent today.
She said Bangladesh has already met most of the MDGs. Despite global recession, during the last six years, Bangladesh made on an average 6 percent GDP growth. Export earnings and remittance increased by threefold and foreign exchange reserves by 6.5 times.
Sheikh Hasina said demographic dividend is a great strength of the country’s economy and society. “We are investing more in enhancing skill and capacity of our growing younger population,” she said.
While talking about the impressive achievements in the education sector, the Prime Minister said her government is offering stipends to nearly 12.8 million students from poor families and free education for girls up to higher education.
“On the first day of this year, we distributed about 330 million free text books among the students up to secondary level all over the country. It is perhaps the biggest such undertaking anywhere in the world,” she said.
Through many similar pro-people initiatives, she said, her government is making great strides to graduate Bangladesh to a middle-income country by 2021 and thereby realize the dream of “Sonar Bangla” or the “Golden Bengal” of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
At the outset of her statement, Sheikh Hasina recalled those leaders whose great foresight paved the way for Asian-African cooperation.
“Together, they put forward a vision of an equitable and just world. In solidarity … they also pledged to fight against colonialism, poverty and inequality,” she said.
In this connection, she said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had dreamt of a peaceful world free from war, conflict and exploitation. “He fought for the rights of the people of Bangladesh,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangabandhu was very keen to have a world where cooperation among nations would bring peace and prosperity for mankind. “With this conviction, Bangabandhu in 1973 attended the NAM Summit, which was a significant outcome of the Bandung Conference,” she said