The Sustainable Development Goals, least developed country (LDC) graduation, pandemics and wars. Bangladesh, like much of the world, is undergoing a stress test across all fronts. Policy-makers have tough choices to make even as resources are shrinking while the global economy contracts. However, even in times of upheaval, governments should not sacrifice the fundamental reforms required for the long-term wellbeing of their citizens. Universal health coverage, energy security and preventing youth radicalisation are just some of the topics we cover in this issue of WhiteBoard.

Mushtaque Chowdhury, Nina van der Mark and Robert Yates argue that now is the perfect time for Bangladesh to move towards universal health coverage. By building on its success in providing grassroots health care, the country can set an example for others in the region.

Sumaiya Iqbal and Monirul Islam focus on building healthy minds in the fight against religious extremism and the radicalisation of youth. A fundamental shift is required in how society engages with young people. Youth need more space for critical discussions on sensitive topics such as religion, identity and mental health.

Identity is at the heart of Mohammad Shahabuddin’s article, which looks at the status of ethnic minorities in Bangladesh. In his view, a re-imagining of the national self is the only way to make the country truly inclusive. Tawheed Reza Noor and Pradip Kumar Dutta discuss how a completely new approach is required to gain international recognition of the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh.

Pallavi Roy analyses whether South Asia is ready for a single energy market. There are impressive gains to be made but more investment in modern energy infrastructure is a prerequisite. Cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs) have been a vital, but often unheralded, contributor to Bangladesh’s economic growth. Leni Papa, Pierre Horna and Azhar Uddin Bhuiyan advocate for institutional reform to the Bangladesh’s Competition Commission to allow CMSMEs to truly flourish.

Bangladesh does not have the luxury of standing still, no matter the global situation. Decisive government action, coupled with a resilient population, enabled the country to weather the covid-19 pandemic storm. In an ever more fractious world, and faced with the growing consequences of climate change, future generations will also need the tools to deal with uncertainty and upheaval. Investing in people is the only way forward.

Radwan Mujib Siddiq is a trustee of the Centre for Research and Information. He is a strategy consultant and youth advocate. He is also the patron of ground-breaking political history projects such as the graphic novel Mujib and Hasina: A Daughter's Tale, a docu-film. He advises various international organizations and government agencies on strategy and communications. He pursued his graduate studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science.