Photo essay: UN Secretary-General’s SDG Advocate Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of the Belgians visits Bangladesh
UN Secretary-General’s SDG Advocate Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of the Belgians traveled to Bangladesh to learn about the progress and challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals. She witnessed firsthand how the United Nations works with partners to address the needs of people in Bangladesh.
Decent work for a sustainable future
The garment industry is one of the largest revenue-generating sectors in Bangladesh, working with ILO to enhance labour rights, ensure social protection, support skills and employability, and promote decent and productive employment opportunities for women.
SDG Advocate Queen Mathilde visited Fakir Apparels Ltd., a garment factory that participates in Better Work programmes such as GEAR (Gender Equality and Reuturns project), an initiative created to scale up efforts to promote women’s leadership in supervisory and managerial positions through training and capacity building, and Mothers @ Work that strengthens maternity rights and breastfeeding in the workplace. Fakir Apparels Ltd. currently employs 10,500 workers out of which 3,719 women.
Better Work is a joint program of ILO and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
Learning in a changing world
The COVID-19 pandemic deepened a crisis in education around the world. According to UNICEF, children in Bangladesh faced one of the most prolonged school closures in the world, missing almost 18 months of in-person education.
To address these educational disruptions and meet students’ needs, UNICEF and SUROVI formed Ability-Based Accelerated Learning (ABAL) Centres. In Dhaka, SDG Advocate Her Majesty Queen Mathilde listened to the stories of children, teachers and community members. Transforming education includes creating tailored programmes like these that reach everyone, everywhere. Leave no one behind.
Supporting Rohingya refugees’ present and futures
Over 940,000 Rohingya refugees live in Cox’s Bazar, the largest refugee camp in the world since 2017. Her Majesty Queen Mathilde’s visit brought the international community’s attention back to the Rohingya people’s urgent needs, anxieties and future opportunities.
She visited several programmes and facilities focused on children’s education, women's centres, health, eco-sheds, waste management facilities, and shelters. UNHCR,, UNICEF, UN Women, NGOs and other national organizations such as BRAC, CODEC, IUCN, and NGO Forum have worked together to create these spaces.
Building climate resilience
We currently face a triple environmental crisis with climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. In the Sutarkhali Union region in Bangladesh, residents are often hit by life-threatening floods and cyclones. SDG Advocate Her Majesty Queen Mathilde visited Local Government Initiatives on Climate Change (LoGIC), a multi-donor initiative of UNDP, UNCDF, GoB, EU and SIDA. This project buildscapacity for resilience and climate adaptation among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts. She heard from community members leading the way, raising awareness and empowering their communities.
Partnerships for Sustainable Development
As the secretariat of the United Nations Secretary-General’s SDG Advocates, the UN Office for Partnerships helped to coordinate this visit and connect with the dedicated partners working on the ground in Bangladesh. The UN country office works on issues related to education, social protection, gender equality, climate action and humanitarian aid.
Each site and programme that Her Majesty Queen Mathilde visited was run by two or more organizations, displaying the vast potential of partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals.
“I am inspired by the effective collaboration between UN agencies and partners in Bangladesh, putting people and the environment at the centre of their work.” -Annemarie Hou, Executive Director, UN Office for Partnerships