| Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy

The Impact of Climate Change: A View from Bangladesh.

Amb. M. Quayes The Hellenic Foundation of European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) organized a roundtable discussion with H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Mijarul Quayes, Foreign Secretary of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh who discussed The Impact of Climate Change: A View from Bangladesh.

“Climate change is an issue on a global level but the response is not global. For us, this is literally a matter of life and death”, said Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary.  The impact of climate change is already being felt in Bangladesh. The sea levels are rising, threatening 20 per cent of habitable land and the storms are getting worse endangering the lives of thousands of fishermen everyday. Every storm means that the fishermen lose valuable days at sea. The tides in the estuaries of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers stopped flowing and the water level just stayed at the high tide, not to mention that severe floods have destroyed a big part of the capital, Dhaka.

Bangladesh is particularly vulnerable to climate change and what is happening right now may be a warning of what is to come. Mr. Quayes also indicated that the climate change is inflicting adverse impact on the country’s agro-based economy as well as on people’s lives and livelihoods since now there are displaced people due to environmental catastrophes.

Under those circumstances, the Copenhagen Conference was held and although it was expected that it would reach a deal to set the world on a new climate change adaptation path, it proved that the world leaders are not ready yet. “We have noted the reiteration of commitments to a legally binding outcome. We want and expect nothing less. There must be clear and predictable commitments for cuts, financing and technology transfer as an acknowledgement of responsibility and a commitment to secure the common future of all of us”, the speaker pointed out.

A number of adaptations that climate change might necessitate are indeed underway in Bangladesh through several government-donor partnerships. Structural adaptations, such as reforestation, new agricultural practices and the Climate Change Adaptation Fund have already been integrated in development projects and policies.

The Bangladesh case study also highlights the importance of the trans-boundary dimension in addressing climate change adaptation and might require cross-boundary institutional arrangements.  “General goodwill is necessary in order to make these collaborations work” concluded the Foreign Secretary.

Dr. Thanos Dokos moderated the panel discussion which took place at ELIAMEP offices on Wednesday 14 April 2010.

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