Hiren Pandit: Awami League has announced its election manifesto with the slogan 'Smart Bangladesh: Development is visible, employment will increase this time' ahead of the 12th National Parliament elections on December 27. In the manifesto announced by Awami League, a total of 11 issues have been given special importance, including creating new jobs, bringing the price of goods within the purchasing power, spreading democratic practices, ensuring the accountability of law-and-order forces, increasing efficiency in the financial sector, making healthcare affordable, building a smart Bangladesh based on modern technology.
Awami League's 2008 manifesto’s slogan was 'Charter for Change', 2014 was 'Bangladesh Moving Forward', and the 2018 manifesto was 'Prosperity and Progress Bangladesh'. It contained 21 special pledges. During the announcement of the manifesto, it was also informed that taking into account the global situation in the field of socio-economic development, steps are being taken to innovate and implement new strategies.
The party has promised to take appropriate measures for climate change and environmental protection when it comes to the new government. In the manifesto, not only five years but also the talk of building a developed Bangladesh by 2041 has come up. According to the manifesto, according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2021, Bangladesh is in the seventh position among the 10 countries most affected by the effects of climate change.
Successfully coping with and adapting to climate change challenges is the biggest physical-natural challenge for Bangladesh. At the same time, the environmental impact of increasing industrialization, urbanization, modernization, and population-production-consumption growth is another major challenge. The Awami League government has achieved considerable success in facing these two challenges in the past and is committed to maintaining its continuity in the coming days.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was awarded the 'Climate Mobility Champion Leader Award' at the 2023 Climate Summit (CoP-28) held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as a voice of leadership in climate action and recognition of her global contribution to people at risk of climate change. The award was presented by the Global Center for Climate Mobility (GCCM), supported by the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration.
The Bangladesh Climate Change Strategic and Action Plan (BCCSAP) was prepared in 2009 to protect Bangladesh from the adverse effects of climate change. A Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund of about 400 million dollars has been formed with its funding. A significant number of projects are being taken up and implemented with the financing of this fund. In 2018, the government formulated a 'National Adaptation Plan' based on stakeholder consultation. In this plan, 14 climate change-related disasters and 11 ' climate-sensitive areas' have been identified and actions taken.
It was decided to withdraw from 10 proposed coal-based power projects. Among them, 5 projects were completely canceled and the remaining 5 were decided to convert to gas instead of coal. Bangladesh signed the UN 'Paris Agreement' in 2015 and committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 6.7 percent unconditionally and conditionally by 15.1 percent more than the current trend by 2030.
At the Climate Mobility Summit of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina brought climate-induced migration and displacement to the attention of world leaders. Before this, Bangladesh raised the issue in two dialogues organized by IOM in Dhaka for the last few years and last year in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh CoP 27.
At the same time, she highlighted various aspects of Bangladesh's initiatives led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to face the challenges of climate change, including the construction of the world's largest multi-story social housing project to resettle 4,400 displaced families in Cox's Bazar. A broad coalition of UN member states is working together on this issue. Climate change is a global crisis. Bangladesh is one of the most affected countries in the world due to climate change.
Impact of climate change; for example, most vulnerable due to floods, cyclones, droughts, river erosion, floods, tornadoes and inundation, salinity etc. This climate change is having a huge impact on the country's agriculture, infrastructure, and lifestyle. Top leaders from all over the world are working together to tackle the harmful effects of climate change.
Bangladesh, which is at the forefront of climate change, participated in this year's climate conference to solve five critical issues together with the least developed countries and the most threatened and vulnerable countries due to climate change. At this year's conference, Bangladesh has set a target to work together on five key issues. Global stocks–The first issue on Bangladesh's agenda concerns the 'first global stocktake', which is at the heart of this year's UN Climate Change Conference.
The Global Stocktaking is a process for countries and partners to see where they are collectively making progress towards meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and where they are not. Loss and Damage Fund: The term loss and damage refer to the damage that countries, especially those most vulnerable to climate change, are affected by the climate crisis. The United Nations has explained it thus: 'Loss and damages arising from the adverse effects of climate change may include those related to extreme weather events.
But slower events such as sea-level rise, rising temperatures, ocean acidification, glacial retreat and related impacts, salinity, land and forest degradation, biodiversity loss and desertification may also be included.' Global Goals on Adaptation: The Global Goals on Adaptation GGA is a collective commitment under Article 7.1 of the Paris Agreement, which aims to 'enhance the world's adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce the risks of climate change’.
'The GGA aims to act as a unified framework, which Adaptation can handle political action and finance to the same degree as mitigation. Bangladesh intends to work together with member countries in framing and formulating the 'Global Adaptation Goals'. As well as countries at risk of climate change, Bangladesh urged member countries to align their 2030 mitigation goals with the 1.5°C warming target stated in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and to increase funding to LDC countries. Another important issue is climate finance.
According to the United Nations, climate finance refers to local, national or transnational financing. Drawing from public, private and alternative sources of financing, it seeks to support mitigation and adaptation actions that address climate change. The Adaptation Fund finances projects and programs that help vulnerable communities in developing countries adapt to climate change. Initiatives are taken based on the country's needs, vision and priorities. A long-awaited agreement on loss and damage fund was formally approved this year.
First, a fund will be created under the auspices of the World Bank, which will be able to distribute money to developing countries and rich industrialized countries, emerging economies and fossil fuel-producing countries; For example, China, and Gulf countries. The use of fossil fuels will increase the severity of the climate emergency. The study, published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, noted that large parts of Asia and much of the Americas could experience an exceptionally warm winter and gave a 95 percent chance that the global average surface temperature for the winter of 2023-24 would set a new historical record.
According to the data of German Watch, Bangladesh is identified as the seventh climate-risk country in the world. Due to climate change, several changes have been noticed in the past years; For example, continuous increase in temperature, irregular rainfall, occurrence of floods, rise in sea level, increase in the magnitude and intensity of cyclones, premature drought etc. However, a major problem in coastal areas is excessive salinity in soil and groundwater.
In recent times, Bangladesh has been spending about five billion US dollars from the annual budget for climate management. However, only one billion dollars of international aid is coming annually. In that case, appropriate measures require several times more money than we have to work to get from the international community. Not only that, to achieve the development plan that Bangladesh has set to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we have to work together to tackle climate change.
Call for international support for countries most affected by climate displacement and address some of the humanitarian issues we need to address to protect them from future humanitarian crises. Most climate displacement occurs within national borders and, in some extreme cases, across borders. International assistance and solidarity are needed for the most affected countries to prevent such a situation from turning into a humanitarian crisis.
Those displaced or trapped by climate change need to have access to basic services, social protection, and livelihood options. Adverse impacts on their host communities also need to be addressed inclusively. It is estimated that climate change could displace 2160 million people worldwide by 2050, 40 million of them from South Asia alone. In Bangladesh, 20 percent of our population lives in coastal areas. Rising sea levels, salinity intrusion, frequent floods, and severe cyclones make them vulnerable to forced displacement. Such displacement is happening faster than we think.
The situation must be considered in the light of climate justice to find specific solutions in the context of migrant trauma and harm. Local, national, and international levels must be prepared to see migration as a climate adaptation strategy, where it proves to be the best possible solution. Existing international protection standards should be reviewed for the recovery of climate migrants, particularly women, children, and other vulnerable groups.
It should invest in better research data and evidence on the impact of climate change on human mobility to build a constructive position beyond narrow political considerations. The 'Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan' has been adopted for climate finance through international cooperation. To reduce the damage caused by cyclones and floods in the coastal areas, under the comprehensive program of coastal green belt creation and afforestation, between 2009-10 and 2021-22, about two lakh hectares of afforestation forests and 28 thousand 458 km of narrow gardens have been created.
To control industrial pollution, waste treatment plants (ETPs) have been installed in 2,220 industrial establishments till 2021 and initiatives have been taken to reduce the use of single-use plastic products and increase the use of natural alternatives across the country to reduce plastic waste. Various effective programs are being implemented to control air pollution, water pollution and noise pollution to provide a livable environment to the citizens. Legal measures continue to be taken to prevent hill and dune cutting and filling of ponds and reservoirs.
So far 25 million people are benefiting from solar power to increase renewable energy. Installation of solar irrigation pumps is being encouraged as an alternative to diesel-powered water pumps in agriculture. Two million improved stoves have been provided to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cooking. The implementation of the policies and plans already adopted by the government to protect Bangladesh from the effects of climate change and global warming, to create a pollution-free environment and to protect water resources, will continue.
Productive and social forestry increased to 20 percent to address climate change risks; Improvement of air quality in Dhaka and other big cities; Promotion of zero-emission and disposal of industrial waste; Conservation, restoration and protection of wetlands in various cities by law; The implementation of the program to build a 500-meter-wide permanent green belt along the sea coast will continue. To control the negative impact of plastic products on the environment, the use of environmentally friendly and biodegradable plastic will be made mandatory in the use of plastic products.
Strong efforts will be taken to achieve a 20 percent share of renewable energy in the country's total energy by 2041. Rational use of surface water will be ensured. Effective measures will continue to protect the country's forest resources, forest creation, and biodiversity including wild animals, and guest birds, with a priority on conserving the forests of the Sundarbans and Chattogram Hill Tracts.
Expansion of irrigation facilities and measures to curb salinity and alleviate freshwater scarcity in the Sundarbans and other basin areas will be enhanced. Short and long-term projects will be undertaken to protect the natural environment of the vast Haor and Bhati areas of Das. Efforts will be made to achieve a fair share of Bangladesh in the Saptakoshi project with Nepal and India.
The writer is a, columnist and researcher