Bangladesh’s development journey has been a collective effort. Facing considerable challenges right from its birth in 1971, the only way the country could achieve its ambitions was through a whole-of-society policy approach. The government, business and civil society have all contributed to the policy-making process. This participatory approach has led to an impressive vision for the country.

From the turn of the century, Bangladesh has laid the foundations for its graduation from the United Nations least developed country category. It has been tackling issues ranging from climate resilience to upholding transgender rights. For its next goal – of becoming an advanced economy – policy scrutiny is more crucial than ever before. Wildlife protection, community tourism and green finance all feature in this issue of WhiteBoard, as we look to go beyond the headlines to widen the policy debate.

Craig Fullstone, Samia Saif and Nasir Uddin shed light on the intensity of wildlife crime in Bangladesh. Wildlife trafficking is on the rise and the country’s legal framework does not provide enough of a deterrent. Their recommendations include new laws, community awareness and an empowered Wildlife Crime Control Unit. Ranjan Saha Partha assesses the viability of community tourism as a sustainable alternative to mainstream tourism models. He outlines the advantages of this approach using the example of the town of Tangail.

Bangladesh’s status as a climate champion demands that green finance products be given high priority, according to Iffat Mahmud. Its central bank has a crucial role to play and small businesses must be a focus. Waseqa Ayesha Khan and Shahriar Ahmed Chowdhury continue with the theme of sustainability by carrying out a comprehensive review of Bangladesh’s renewable energy options. With newer, efficient technologies driving costs down, timely decisive action can lead to multiple long-term benefits, not least in the area of energy security.

Maliha Mannan takes a detailed look at the health sector’s potential to become truly data-driven. Bangladesh has successfully rolled out health information systems such as the District Health Information Software-2 (DHIS2), but a more patient-centric harmonised approach will strengthen the country’s network readiness. Healthcare start-ups are also an underutilised resource; more policy support is needed here.

Zaidi Sattar takes a comprehensive look at the policies that have boosted industry and increased Bangladesh’s trade competitiveness over the past decade. Maintaining sound macroeconomic fundamentals, while ensuring trade and industrial policies are in sync, will prepare the country to navigate the fast-moving global economy. With the fourth industrial revolution in mind, Anir Choudhury outlines the building blocks needed for ‘Smart Bangladesh.’ Every citizen has a role to play as a problem-solver, and the onus will be on policy-makers to foster this culture. The emphasis should be on collaborative work, equal access to services and investment in human capital.

An inclusive approach to development has served Bangladesh well. A diverse set of inputs has helped widen the vision of policy-makers. At WhiteBoard, we will continue to contribute to this process by providing an open space for new ideas.

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.