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  • Bangladesh steps up to tackle climate change


[LONDON] Bangladesh has launched a comprehensive action plan to ensure the country's resilience to climate change over the next decade.

The 2009–2018 plan was presented yesterday (10 September) during the UK–Bangladesh Climate Change Conference in London, United Kingdom.

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, particularly the threat of increased flooding and storms due to its position in the delta of three large rivers — the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna — as well as facing the Bay of Bengal. 

Addressing the conference via video message, Fakhruddin Ahmed, head of the Bangladesh government, said the country was on track for achieving the Millennium Development Goals but "climate change has the potential to wreak havoc on our efforts."

A major focus of the plan is on research to better estimate and monitor the scale and timing of climate change impacts. The plan calls for more accurate modelling scenarios at a regional and national level, particularly for the predicted hydrological impact on the Ganges–Brahmaputra–Meghna delta system.

It also targets research into the impacts of climate change on the macro-economy and linkages between climate change, poverty and health to identify suitable interventions.

The plan also seeks to establish a Centre for Research and Knowledge Management on Climate Change to ensure Bangladesh has access to the latest ideas and technologies from around the world.

Other measures outlined include agricultural research to develop crop varieties resistant to flooding, drought and salinity, better surveillance systems for new and existing disease risks, and improving early warning systems for storm surges and floods.

The exact costs of the plan are still being worked out, but the government estimates that US$500 million will be needed for the first two years, and US$5 billion needed for the first 5 years.

To address this, the government has established a National Climate Change Fund, injecting an initial US$45 million. In addition, a multi-donor trust fund (MDTF) was announced at the conference for contributions from international donors.

Mirza Azizul Islam, Bangladesh's Finance Adviser, called for a "new sense of urgency" and appealed to all development partners to contribute generously to the trust fund, adding that the funds currently available are grossly inadequate.

"Climate change in Bangladesh is about deprivation and destitution of large sections of the population, with their lives plunged into darkness," said Islam. "The government of Bangladesh is committed to face the challenges of climate change."

United Kingdom secretary of state Douglas Alexander also announced £75 million (around US$132 million) of grant funding from the UK to help Bangladesh fund its mitigation strategies.

Bangladesh and the United Kingdom sealed their long-term commitment to combating climate change by signing a joint document outlining the need to urgently address the challenges and threats posed.

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