20 September 2019

PM warns of ecological threats in Cox’s Bazar due to Rohingya

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File photo: Sheikh Hasina - Photo Desk

Bangladesh’s Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said the environmental balance of Cox's Bazar is under threat as settlements are being established there for Rohingyas clearing hills and forests, reports United News of Bangladesh.

‘For this (Rohingya presence), the natural equilibrium is being destabilised in that area... settlements are being established in the area clearing forests and hills. As a result, those areas are becoming insecure and risky, too,’ she said.

The prime minister said this while inaugurating the 'Dhaka Meeting of the Global Commission on Adaptation' at Hotel Intercontinental.

Mentioning that Bangladesh has given shelter these huge Myanmar nationals on humanitarian ground, she said the country is stepping forward with a big burden on its shoulder.

She said Bangladesh wants that the Rohingyas to return to their homeland as soon as possible. ‘The quicker they will return to their homeland the better for Bangladesh, and I do believe that,’ she added.

Talking about adaptation, she said adaptation measures cannot be spread without unless proper mitigation measures are in place.

Hasina said in this age of science, technology and innovation, there is enormous opportunity to address climate change. ‘I call everyone for your awareness and respective responsibility to fight the adverse impacts of climate change,’ she said.

The prime minister said Bangladesh is expecting to take advantage of the best adaptation practices, most cost-effective solutions and risk reduction with the help of the Global Commission on Adaptation.

‘We're eagerly waiting to see the recommendations of the flagship report next September at the time of the Climate Change Summit called by the secretary general of the United Nations where I, on behalf of Bangladesh and the Least Developed Countries, have been invited to speak,’ she said.

In 2015 in Paris, the prime minister recalled, all have been successful in creating a solid ground for a meaningful cooperation in combating climate change impacts. ‘Like many others we firmly believe that climate change is a global challenge and we've to resort to global solutions.’

‘The Paris Agreement is the most pragmatic and effective global deal towards this global solution. In the final report of High Level Political Forum on Water which was formed at the initiative of Ban Ki Moon, we wrote ‘Every drop Counts’. The world community is trying to implement this,’ she added.

Hasina mentioned that Climate change poses the greatest threat to the present and future generations. Evidence suggests that Bangladesh has already 6 million climate migrants, a number that could be more than double by 2050.

‘Changes in temperature, increased frequency and severity of floods, droughts, heat waves, cyclones and storm surges, sea-level rise and salinity intrusion are affecting a vast track of land in Bangladesh.’

These changes are seriously affecting agriculture, crops, livestock and fisheries and threatening the food security of Bangladesh, she added.

Hasina said Bangladesh is pursuing a low carbon development path with increasing emphasis on renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation.

She mentioned that Bangladesh has been working relentlessly to overcome its vulnerabilities and create adaptation measures for people. ‘We've designed project titled 'Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100' for combating climate change.’

The prime minister said Bangladesh, being one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, is also at the forefront of learning how to tackle the adverse impacts of climate change.

‘Due to the present government's various timely and effective measures, the impact of natural calamities has come down significantly.’

She said the government has taken initiatives to increase tree coverage from 22 per cent to 24 per cent in the next five years.

Besides, she said, Bangladesh has been engaged in creating resilient forests in offshore areas to protect forest-dependent communities and habitats of important forest biodiversity. ‘Our scientists and farmers invented stress-tolerant rice cultivation technologies which produced good results.’

The prime minister went on saying, ‘Floating garden, a low input-low cost resilient family farming production system, in the wetlands of the south-central coastal districts is another good example.’

She also said Household Silo (HHS) is another adaptation practice in Bangladesh to ensure food security in disaster prone areas that helps the most vulnerable to some extent. ‘But more research and investment on this front are necessary as the climate change is moving fast, impacting our agriculture, life and livelihood.’

Marshall Island president Hilda Heine, World Bank CEO and Global Commission on Adaptation co-chair Kristaline Georgieva, the current chair of Global Commission on Adaptation and former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, foreign minister AK Abdul Momen and Environment, forests and climate change minister Md Shahab Uddin also spoke at the programme.

Different sessions titled 'community dialogue', 'action tacks - mobilising accelerated adaptation and support', and 'mobilising a global audience - communication tools and events' will take place after the inaugural session.

The CGA, led by Ban Ki-moon, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and World Bank CEO Georgieva, is guided by 32 commissioners and 19 convening countries, representing all regions of the globe, and co-managed by the Global Center on Adaptation and World Resources Institute.

Kamruzzaman


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