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Special Guest Blog – Bangladesh: Out of Fragility?

Below you will find Reflect & Learn’s very first special guest blog, which is part of a new series dealing with contextual issues surrounding development challenges and opportunities. We feel that this is a crucial topic to explore, as contextual issues form the environment within which organizations and networks operate.

On November 26, the School of International Development and Global Studies (SIDGS) and the Fragile States Research Network (FSRN) of the Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS) held a seminar at the University of Ottawa titled Bangladesh: Out of Fragility?

The seminar, which brought together speakers and chairs from a number of institutions including the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, the International Development Research Centre and USC Canada, explored Bangladesh’s development experience.

porbitalBangladesh has progressed significantly in terms of human development and economic growth since its independence in 1971. However, it still remains fragile in the areas of governance and environment. The seminar focused on the duality of Bangladesh’s experience, exploring what it means for the country’s future prospects and opportunities, as well as for international development cooperation.

Discussions were divided into two main segments. The first provided an overview of the recent history and current situation in Bangladesh, touching upon post-independence state-building and development, as well as areas of enduring fragility. The second looked at future development partnership possibilities and views on this aspect from civil society.

artur84During this latter portion of the seminar, Dr. Syed Sajjadur Rahman, a Senior Associate at Universalia and a part-time Professor at the School for International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa, gave a presentation on the future of development partnerships in Bangladesh.

Dr. Rahman’s presentation started with a brief overview of the country’s current development status. He then touched upon Bangladesh’s development needs and vulnerabilities at this time, including the need for continued economic growth (private sector and infrastructure development), stable governance (accountability and a pro-poor approach), as well as climate change mitigation/adaptation (reduced pollution and mitigation of the impacts of global warming).

Dr. Rahman highlighted that Bangladesh is not an aid-dependent nation, and that development partnerships in this country will have to acknowledge the leading role of Bangladeshis. The possibilities for establishing development partnerships range from targeted poverty reduction (facilitating government-led human needs provision and employment-intensive growth) to supporting the expansion of large-scale enterprises. Regarding governance, Dr. Rahman suggested approaching the issue with care. Fundamental changes will most likely be effected through internal agents. External partners can help build institutions. Partners can also provide assistance for improving the environment and reducing pollution. Efforts in all of these areas can be supported through grants and concessional loans, provided by bilateral, multilateral and government agencies.

To see a copy of Dr. Rahman’s presentation, please click here.

sajjadDr. Syed Sajjadur Rahman has over 25 years of experience in international development, having occupied a number of senior executive positions at the Canadian International Development Agency and having taught graduate-level courses at both Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. Specialized in economics, Dr. Rahman has in-depth knowledge of strategic planning and policy, as well as the structure and administration of bilateral and multilateral development organizations. Currently, Dr. Rahman is a Senior Associate at the Universalia Management Group.

For more details on the content of this seminar, please contact Dr. Rahman at

Images courtesy of, artur84 and porbital.

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