As the end of a difficult year approaches, Bangladesh needs to reflect on how it can best prepare itself for continued global instability. Long-term solutions are the need of the hour: stop-gap measures can only deliver so much. What are the options available to policy-makers, who face the challenge of making the country more robust to external shocks while bettering people’s lives?

In this issue of WhiteBoard, we look at some areas where there are potential cost-effective solutions with far-reaching benefits. Some of these ideas are new, some are not. Others are more about implementation than imagination. But all of them can strengthen the country’s ability to weather increasing global uncertainty. These include revisiting decentralisation, reinvigorating private–public partnerships and reimagining the energy sector.

Ahmed Ahsan presents a detailed analysis of the benefits of decentralisation as well as a practical roadmap to achieve this. He argues that a spatially balanced localised development strategy can lead to job creation in poorer regions, attract private investment and promote quality urbanisation. Political will is the most important ingredient in the process. Forming an empowered decentralisation commission will be a practical first step.

Arunima Dutta Aurni evaluates 25 years of public–private partnership (PPP) in Bangladesh to understand why the potential for it to be a major source of investment remains unfulfilled. She identifies land acquisition and technical expertise gaps as major bottlenecks. Dedicated PPP units that cross government agencies, model agreements and more systematic engagement with stakeholders are among her recommendations for reform.

The energy and clothing sectors have been critical elements in Bangladesh’s impressive economic growth but what next? Muhammad Shafiullah and Tirta Das look to the country’s ‘renewable past’ to chart out a plan to achieve a sustainable energy future.

Sulav Choudhury presents a plan to keep garments at the forefront of the country’s exports. Greater integration of technology in production, green practices and trade reforms are essential to the sector’s competitiveness.

Technology, the media and the internet play a crucial role in shaping policies. Rafsanul Hoque, Tanvir Ahmed Mozumder and Afsan Chowdhury analyse a survey by the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development and The Asia Foundation on media consumption and internet usage in the country. The findings point to a digital divide based on gender and income that needs to be addressed urgently. Ratan Kumar Roy and SM Shameem Reza look at regulatory reforms to protect journalism as a profession and to fight the onslaught of the internet era’s disinformation.

Policy-makers are under constant pressure to deliver sweeping changes. However, it is also necessary to look at existing policies to identify opportunities for marginal gains. At WhiteBoard, we will continue to provide a space for policy debates, both new and old.

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.