SAARC action plan on climate change

05 July 2008

Haroon Habib

DHAKA: Members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) have adopted a three-year action plan on climate change.

The plan was adopted at the SAARC ministerial meeting on climate change, which was held in Dhaka on July 1-2. The delegates released a declaration – Dhaka Declaration – on climate change. The draft declaration urged the international community for partnership development in this regard by providing additional financial resources, as already agreed upon. The declaration saw it as the moral obligation of the developed countries,” said Raja Devasish Roy, special assistant to Bangladesh’s Environment Ministry, on Thursday.

SAARC members have committed themselves to promote programmes for advocacy and awareness of climate change and to inculcate habits towards a low-carbon society, including incorporation of science-based educational material in educational curricula.

The action plan, covering 2009-2011, focuses on seven thematic areas – from adaptation of climate change to regional stance for international negotiations. It emphasises on policies and action for climate change mitigation, technology transfer, financing and investment mechanism, education, training and awareness, monitoring, assessment and management of impact and risks due to climate change.

Experts, who met on July 1 and 2, identified priority actions, including clean development management, exchange of information on disaster preparedness, exchange of meteorological data, monitoring climate change impact, supporting international negotiation process and sensitising the media to the issue to implement the plan. The leaders are, however, yet to reach any consensus on mobilising fund for the implementation of such a plan. However, the meeting had suggested diverting funds from the SAARC Development Fund, apart from seeking funds from donors such as the Asian Development Bank.

Claiming the meeting successful, Raja Devasish said, the action plan will identify and create opportunities through regional and south-south cooperation in terms of technology and knowledge transfer.

Dwelling on the issue of adverse effect on Bangladesh for sea-level rise, Atiq Rahman of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies said, ‘We have taken time to prepare ourselves, but we need to start acting now.

A recent report of the US space agency NASA predicted that a sea-level rise of about 25 metres, associated with global warming and melting polar ice caps, could see Bangladesh disappear under the waves by the end of the century.

Inaugurating the first-ever Saarc Ministerial meeting on climate change, the head of Bangladesh’s caretaker government, Fakhruddin Ahmed, stressed the need for industrialised nations to provide climate adaptation funds for developing countries, the worst victims of climate change, ‘without any conditions’. He also called on richer nations to transfer better technology so that developing countries could progress toward climate resiliency.

Saarc Secretary-General Sheel Kant Sharma told the meeting, ‘Saarc believes that the way forward must include, among others, binding greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments by developed countries with effective timeframes.

Ministers of Environment and experts all the eight Saarc nations met in Dhaka from July 1, 2008 to deliberate on measures that may be undertaken to minimise the adverse impacts of climate change. The ministerial meeting took place on the 3rd July .

Minister of State of India Namo Narain Meena, Minister of Sri Lanka Patali Cham pika Ranawaka MP, deputy minister of Maldives Abdullahi Majeed, deputy minister of Bhutan Dasho Nado Rinchhen, Afghanistan Ambassador Abdul Karim Nawabi, Bangladesh delegate Dr M Asaduzzaman, and Pakistan delegate Jawed Ali Khan made statements at the meeting saying climate change is a serious threat to the region in the form of more frequent floods, cyclones, droughts, sea-level rise, glacier melting, loss of agricultural productivity.

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