Bangladesh to host centre for climate adaptation knowhow

Students at the centre will be exposed to the real-life effects of climate change in Bangladesh Copyright: Flickr/IRRI

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[LONDON] Bangladesh is set to host a new international centre for research and training in climate change adaptation activities.

The International Centre for Climate Change and Development’s official launch is planned for late November, at the end of its first course, Terry Cannon, the centre’s visiting director of studies, told SciDev.Net.

A Master’s degree in climate change and development is planned for September next year.

The UK Department for International Development (DfID) has contributed £500,000 (around US$830,000) to the centre. "We will use the money to run short courses, and to leverage further funding," Saleemul Huq, who heads the fledgling centre, told SciDev.Net.

The centre will be housed at Independent University on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka, and is a collaborative effort — the university will be responsible for teaching, training and facilities; the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies will lead research; and the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development will be responsible for overall management, including both finances and faculty members.

"The idea is to bring together people from around the world who are working on community-based adaptation with vulnerable groups," explains Huq.

Huq says that although several universities in industrialised countries around the world are developing climate change courses, the new centre can provide something more — particularly for students from less developed countries, who will be able to experience first-hand the realities of climate change in Bangladesh and link them to the situation in their home countries.

"Bangladesh is a living laboratory on climate change adaptation," he says. "We will take students out to see what is happening. It will be more than just a classroom exercise."

The centre plans to raise money for an endowment fund to provide full scholarships to at least a dozen students, particularly from Africa, and will host an international conference on adaptation each year, to be alternately held in Bangladesh and a different country. Next year the conference will be held in Tanzania, says Huq.

Although the new institution will not initially have permission to award PhDs, it is in discussion with a number of international universities about hosting PhD students to boost the centre’s research capacity. It is also discussing linking up with the UN University.

The co-chairs of the International Advisory Board are R. K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Ian Burton, adjunct professor at the Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Toronto.

This article was updated 17 September 2009.