The Daily New Age, 09 September 2008
The military-controlled government is expected to seek $5 billion from the international community at the UK-Bangladesh climate change conference tomorrow for a number of unspecified programmes in the first five years of Bangladesh’s 10-year-long climate change action plan, said officials.
Climate scientists and green activists are critical of the proposed amount, which they said was estimated without any realistic assessment and will be inadequate to tackle the emerging challenges. Moreover, the action plan was drawn up only in two and half months’ time after limited discussion.
They said that the action plan, which will be placed before the international community, lacks specific guidelines for management of the fund, has no timeframe for the said programmes and no demands for cut in emissions by the developed nations that are primarily responsible for the adverse effects on developing countries.
The action plan hardly mentions the issue of climate refugees when recurrent natural disasters force many people to migrate internally due to loss of their shelter and livelihoods, and the possibility of more eco-refugees in the coming days.
‘I presume that since the government hastily launched the action plan, a number of issues were left out,’ Ahsan Uddin Ahmed, a climate change researcher who works for the Centre for Global Change, told New Age on Monday.
He said that the plan lacks vision, and no specific strategy has been outlined in the document which will be placed at the conference on Wednesday.
A high-level delegation headed by the finance and planning adviser to the interim government, AB Mirza Azizul Islam, is now in the British capital to make the formal request for funding Bangladesh at the much-awaited climate change conference in London to meet the challenges posed by climate change.
‘The total cost of the programmes commencing in the first five years could be about $5 billion,’ according to the action plan which estimated a $500 million dollar programme will need to be initiated in the first and second year for immediate action. Strengthening disaster management, research and knowledge management, capacity building and launching public awareness programme and urgent investments in such projects as cyclone shelters and selected drainage programme are listed in the paper without detailing the plan.
According to officials at the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Bangladesh and UK will launch an ambitious international agreement at Copenhagen in 2009 through the London conference.
The conference, jointly hosted by the Bangladesh and UK governments, will highlight how Bangladesh and its people are already living with climate change and their struggle in adapting to its effects, the need for all to participate in the reduction of global emissions and to support adaptation to climate change, and demonstrate how tackling climate change is critical if the UN Millennium Development Goals are to be achieved.
High-level speakers and panellists from government, businesses and civil society alongside the international climate experts will address the one-day conference.
As Bangladesh is highly vulnerable to climate change, activists in Bangladesh launched a campaign for a comprehensive and target-oriented action plan in which sector-wise programmes for adaptation and mitigation would be chalked out.
The Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, a coalition of non-governmental organisations which promote the green movement, demanded a National Board on Climate Change to manage the proposed adaptation fund.
‘It has been widely recognised that Bangladesh requires a substantial amount of climate change financing to advance its climate-resilient development,’ said Ziaul Haq Mukta, a key person in the campaign. He said the overseas funds must be compensatory grants.
The government said its action plan includes a 10-year programme to build the capacity and resilience of the country to meet the challenge of climate change.
In the first five-year period, the programme will comprise five pillars including food security, poverty and health, comprehensive disaster management, infrastructure, research and knowledge management, mitigation and low carbon emission, capacity building and institutional strengthening.
As many as 50 programmes and numerous projects were suggested in the plan for implementation in the coming years.
The World Bank has launched a study to assess the risks posed by climate change in Bangladesh and five other developing countries and then design effective strategies for adaptation.
The study on the ‘Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change’, aimed at supporting key decision-makers in this regard, is being co-sponsored by the governments of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, according to the World Bank.
It said the government of Bangladesh agreed on the need to involve local experts and research institutions to conduct further analysis of the potential socio-economic impacts of climate change.
The analysis will cover areas in which there are gaps in the data, methodology, research and operational expertise, and is expected to ensure consistency of the approaches of five other country cases. Apart from Bangladesh, the study will be carried out in Bolivia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Vietnam.
A group of experts from the World Bank will visit Bangladesh in October 2008 to finalise the methodology of the study, said the WB.
The World Bank’s study team will work closely with the local experts to provide technical assistance. ‘They will share the findings, lessons and experience of the other 5 country cases and ensure consistency of the studies as well,’ added WB’s note.
The multilateral lending agency believes that the outcome of this global study will complement and increase the existing in-country technical knowledge and experience on addressing the economics of adaptation, where estimates of costs and benefits of different adaptation options tailored to local and sector-specific contexts are lacking.
The initiative is expected to further strengthen the international development community’s efforts, including the United Nations Framework for Climate Change and the Bali Action Plan, to provide access to sustainable support and additional resources to help developing countries, in particular the most vulnerable ones, to meet the costs of adaptation.
Also, the UK government’s Department for International Development is supporting Bangladesh in the holding of a daylong conference of donors and lenders in London on Wednesday to sensitise international opinion in favour of the country which is one of the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
The finance and planning adviser, AB Mirza Azizul Islam, is scheduled to attend the conference which will be addressed by global and national experts on environmental issues.
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