UN climate summit: Bangladesh needs cheer in material terms

The Daily Star, 06 December 2008

AT the UN climate change summit at Poznan, Poland, Bangladesh has come in for two positive references against an otherwise grim prediction of how much she is likely to be at the receiving end of the adversities of climate change.

The first word of appreciation came from Sven Harmeling, senior adviser to international NGO GermanWatch. While placing Bangladesh as the riskiest on the global climate index, he regarded our ‘Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan’ as a model for many other countries deserving support of international community.

The second round of praise has come for our farmer resilience and improvisation to adapt to a changing scenario. The farmers are raising their vegetable beds, increasing retention of soil moisture through innovative treatment and enhancing organic content of the soil. While the farmers alter their cropping patterns, researchers have arrived at a hybrid variety of seedling that would keep above high water levels.

Surely, we can take heart from such encouraging comments but not rest our oars on such laurels. We have a long way to go in putting in place short, medium and long term preparedness strategies to face up to the stupendous and multifaceted challenges of adaptation. We are looking up to the UN for pooling the scientific and material resources of the advanced countries in a coordinated thrust towards alleviating climate change related plights of the LDCs which are certainly not of their own making.

Food security is of central importance to countries likely to be severely affected by climate change. With a predictable drop in their food output, such countries will be faced with food price vulnerability. The poor people spend anything between 50 and 80 per cent of their income on food. Subsidy will be a big need there coupled with bolstering household incomes. We will need massive investment in agriculture, especially of the type that is adaptive. The burden of coping with climate change effects will largely fall on women, so focused attention ought to be paid to their uplift.

Bangladesh is increasingly becoming the focal point of attention in terms of mitigation strategies for coping with the known and unknown facets of the climate change that has set in quite a few years ago. In light of this emerging reality, we endorse our delegation’s proposal at Poznan for the setting up of International Climate Change Adaptation Centre in Bangladesh.


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