Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a member of Malaysian Council of Eminent Persons, also a leading economist, on Saturday said that countries like Bangladesh should pay more attention to food security and renewable energy issues.
Production and distribution of food was very important for the countries, he observed while delivering Centre for Policy Dialogue anniversary lecture-2018 at Hotel Lake Shore in Dhaka.
He also suggested being careful about the use of herbicide, pesticide and agro chemicals.
No one should compromise the food safety issue as every consumer was going to be affected sooner or later because of the use of the items in agriculture, he noted.
CPD arranged the lecture on assessing the challenges of SDG implementation: food, energy and inequality, with CPD chairman Rehman Sobhan in the chair.
Referring to an estimate of Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jomo, a former assistant secretary general in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said that proportion of hungry people in Bangladesh was increasing.
‘Sadly, Bangladesh made progress in the last decade and that progress seems to have been reversed as the proportion of hungry people is on the rise,’ he said.
‘You may say that FAO has got wrong or so, but this is a matter of concern,’ Jomo noted.
He, however, declined to make further comment on the issue saying that FAO Bangladesh office or local researchers might provide further explanation.
Hunger was still an important global issue at the moment despite ostensible decline of poverty globally, he said.
Malnutrition, macronutrients, obesity were the major challenges as these affected human development, lifestyles and productivity, he mentioned.
More than 800 million of global population remain hungry, 2 billion suffer from micronutrient deficiencies and another 2.1 billion are overweight.
He said that the total cost of malnutrition might be as high as 5 per cent of global GDP, equivalent to $3.5 trillion.
Jomo pointed out that income inequality, both within country and between countries, increased.
He also said that use of renewable energy was very important for a country like Bangladesh which was vulnerable to climate change and global warming.
‘Promoting renewable energy needs strong government leadership involving private sector ensuring people’s access to modern energy at affordable price,’ he said.
Bangladesh has all the potential and manpower to be the biggest producer of solar panel for both home use and export market.
It would need public investment to encourage private investment, he added.
Professor Rehman Sobhan said that Asia had become the centre of global competitiveness and generating capital surplus.
Strength of Asian economy, led by China and India as a major force, was huge, he noted.
Asia now should be more integrated to fight against malnutrition, hunger and inequality, he suggested.
CPD executive director Fahmida Khatun, distinguished fellows Mustafizur Rahman and Debupriya Bhattacharya, Bangladesh Centre for Advance Studies executive director Atiq Rahman, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies executive director KAS Murshid, among others, spoke at the programme.