I’ll urge G20 countries to mainstream the issue of losses and damages as in many parts of the world the environmental losses have become permanent and irreparable

Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister, Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said the G20 has a greater responsibility to come forward with stronger commitment to mobilise global support to address the issue of displacement or climate refugees. “Peace and security of all will largely depend on how we’ll be able to manage this forced displacement of innocent people,” she said. The Prime Minister said this while addressing the “Resilience and Recovery: Highlighting Solutions for the G20 on Climate and Sustainability” virtually from her official residence as keynote speaker organised by F20 Foundations and King Khaled Foundation, reports UNB.

She said no one knows it better than Bangladesh as it has 1.1 million forcibly evicted Rohingya people from Myanmar and they are causing extensive damages to the environment and nature. “I’ll urge G20 countries to mainstream the issue of losses and damages as in many parts of the world the environmental losses have become permanent and irreparable,” she said. Sheikh Hasina also said it is disturbing that the global financing mechanism like the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) are severely under resourced.

She said climate and sustainability, the two issues, are mutually dependent. The G20 economies account for around 90 per cent of the gross world product, almost 80 per cent of world trade, two-thirds of the world population and approximately half of the world land area. “So, anything to do with global climate and sustainability must go through G20 for any satisfactory outcome. G20 previously showed that jointly they can take many beneficial measures for the benefit of the global community.”

Mentioning climate change as a global problem with cross-border adverse impacts, she said it is the responsibility of the international community to take drastic measures to stop the activities that cause climate change. “The same goes for sustainability. The breakdown of sustainability anywhere will sooner or later result in total disruption of sustainability everywhere. Climate change is the ultimate existential threat and its consequences are expected to worsen in the near and distant future,” she said.

However, the Prime Minister said, climate change has originated from the lack of sustainability triggered by human activities. As a result, humans are experiencing floods, rainfalls, cyclones, heat waves, landslides and droughts in recent years with greater fury and intensity. She said further increase in sea level, even for half a metre, could threaten the very survival of many climate vulnerable countries. An ambitious collective response is a global emergency now and without the direct engagement of G20, nothing can be achieved “to safeguard our children and their future”. “For that reason, the strict implementation of the Paris Agreement is critical. We seek collaboration and support from the international community, especially from the advanced economies, to redefine their production and consumption.”

She went on saying, “We must keep the increase of the global temperature within 1.5 degree centigrade and the G20 countries being the main emitters should reset their NDCs accordingly.”

As a deltaic country, Hasina said Bangladesh is always prone to natural disasters. People here have been living since time immemorial showing their resilience against natural disasters. The Prime Minister mentioned that Bangladesh is now the host of the Global Centre on Adaptation’s South Asian regional office which will promote adaptation measures.

She urged the International community, including the G20, to come forward to invest in adaptation efforts. “We’re also the current President of the Climate Vulnerable Forum-CVF. We seek strong support from the international community and G20 to increase adaptation finance for the climate vulnerable countries.”

Hasina mentioned that Bangladesh is also at the forefront in combating the climate-induced disasters through implementing various mitigation and adaptation programmes. She said the Bangladesh government has so far allocated 430 million US dollars from its own resources under Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund to implement Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan formulated in 2009.

Millions of saplings are being planted every year across the country to offset the impacts of climate change. Marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the government is planting 10 million saplings this year alone.

“Our scientists have developed saline, flood and drought resistant crops and floating agriculture technology. We’ve been expanding the construction of cyclone shelters programme, first introduced by our Father of the Nation 45 years ago. Our government has been spending on an average US$ 2 billion, 1 per cent of the GDP, per year since 2010 for adaptation purposes.

She also said Bangladesh Parliament recently adopted a resolution titled ‘Planetary Emergency’ calling upon all other Parliaments to declare this existential threat as an emergency for all countries.

Hasina said Bangladesh is still off track to achieve the SDGs by 2030. “COVID-19 pandemic has further slowed us. Under the circumstances, G20 must announce accelerated actions to re-invigorate the global economy in the spirit of ‘building back better’ and if I may add ‘greener’.”

In this connection, she placed three issues of priority:

  • Firstly, for successful implementation of 2030 Agenda, addressing climate change is fundamental as both have symbiotic relationships with each other.
  • Secondly, all need greater collaboration from the international community for a unified, stronger and green mechanism to tackle the negative impacts of climate change and uphold sustainability. G20 countries have specific roles to play here.
  • And thirdly, the global financing mechanism must be replenished as promised in a true spirit of responsibility sharing and partnership.

Princess Bessmabint Bader, F20 Co-Chair, King Khalid Foundation and F20 Chair Klaus Milke were also present at the programme.

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