Staff Correspondent, The Daily Star, 27 July 2008
Awami League Presidium Member Matia Chowdhury speaks at a discussion at National Press Club in the city yesterday. On her left is Nurul Islam Nahid and on her right is Supro Chairman Abdul Awal. Photo: STAR
Experts, NGO workers and politicians at a roundtable yesterday said South Asian leaders need to reach a unanimous agreement to combat the devastating effect of climate change and food insecurity in the region in the upcoming Saarc summit in Colombo.
The were speaking at a roundtable on ‘Ways to regionally combat climate change and food insecurity’ organised at the National Press Club in the city by the Campaign for Good Governance (Supro), a group of around 300 grassroots NGOs.
A Supro presentation stated that all the Saarc countries but the Maldives have fallen behind Saarc Development Goals (SDGs) targets.
Built in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations, the 22 SDGs are designed to halve poverty in the region by 2012.
But according to Supro, business as well as food security target in the Saarc region should reached by 2062, basic education by 2044, clean water and sanitation by 2036.
The group called on Saarc leaders to step up efforts on the South Asian Food Bank, South Asian Development Fund and create a South Asia centre on research and monitoring of climate change.
The presentation blamed multinational corporations and free-market economic policies for the ongoing food crisis in South Asia through commercialising agriculture.
They said the region’s leaders must agree to protect the food, education and health sectors from privatisation.
Speakers also said Saarc must move beyond poverty alleviation and must seriously tackle political issues to make a meaningful progress.
Former agriculture minister and Awami League Presidium Member Matia Chowdhury, former army chief and BNP leader Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman, Dhaka University Profs Imtiaz Ahmed and Dalem Chandra Barman and environmentalists Syed Rizwana Hasan and Rokeya Kabir spoke at the roundtable.
Supro Chairman Abdul Awal moderated the roundtable.