Bangladesh to seek $5b climate fund at London conference

Nazrul Islam, NewAge, September 9, 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.


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