Tk 30,000cr river project on cards: Includes measures to minimise climate change impact

The government is going to take up a Tk 30,000-crore mega project to revive the country’s river system that would also address the impact of climate change in the country.

State Minister for Environment and Forest Mostafizur Rahman said this while talking to journalists after delivering a speech at “international civil society conference: the rights of most vulnerable countries in climate negotiations” conference jointly organised by Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL) and Oxfam GB.

He said, “Under the project, all the major rivers will be dredged and embankments will be extended.”

At the three-day conference being held at a city hotel, he also said the heights of roads in costal areas will be raised and afforestation would be done in drought-prone areas as part of the mega project.

Participants from Nepal, Cambodia, Samoa, Swaziland, Zambia, the Maldives, Ethiopia, Niger, Vietnam, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Tanzania are at the conference as part of the preparation for negotiations at the 15th conference of parties (COP15) of the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen to be held in December.

The state minister said the developed countries, which are mostly responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, should come forward to ensure the survival of vulnerable countries like Bangladesh by providing due compensations.

“We do hope that the Annex-1 countries would unconditionally contribute to our national fund as compensation and support the process of managing it [fund] through our national mechanisms determined by us,” he said.

He said the government has formed two high-powered committees to prepare climate change strategies and action plan and deal with the national climate change fund.

Chairperson of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Climate Change and Environment and Awami League lawmaker Saber Hossain Chowdhury, representative of Vietnam Network for Civil Society and Climate Change Nguyen Huu Ninh, Convener of Campaign Steering Group of CSRL Shirin Akhter and Country Director of Oxfam Heather Blackwell spoke at the conference with Executive Director of Bangladesh Centre for Advance Studies Atiq Rahman in the chair.

Saber Hossain Chowdhury said vulnerable countries should come out with a common ground for negotiations with the developed countries.

“Bangladesh has already taken the leadership of the least developed countries in the climate-change field but lots more are needed to be done. The vulnerable countries should work together even for post-Copenhagen situation as far as climate change is concerned,” said Saber.

He said climate change is not only an issue of environment security for Bangladesh but also an issue of national security.

Heather Blackwell said, “We want a fair and safe deal in Copenhagen, particularly for billions of poor and vulnerable people whose governments cannot afford to pay to fix the problem.”

She said the true cost of climate change would not be measured in dollars but in million or billions of lives.

Shirin Akhter said Bangladesh must have a national consensus regarding its stance for negotiation in Copenhagen. It should be discussed and debated in parliament.

Environmentalist Atiq Rahman said about 17 percent of the country’s land and 13 percent of agricultural activities would be affected if there is one metre sea-level rise.

Source: The Daily Star, 28 July 2009

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