Hasina advocates cleaner, greener, safer world | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 30, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:09 AM, September 30, 2020

Hasina advocates cleaner, greener, safer world

Writes in Financial Times; urges businesses, G20 for more adaptation funding

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said climate change, pandemics and the destruction of nature are common threats and these should unite all in working towards a common solution -- a cleaner, greener and safer world.

"As we say in Bangla: 'Bhabia korio kaj, koria bhabio na' [think before you act, not after you're done], we should not do anything that cannot be reversed," she mentioned in her recent article published in the Financial Times, one of the world's most respected newspapers with its editorial offices located in London.

The PM said water is a matter of life and death in Bangladesh.

"My country is a land of great rivers, vast coastlines and resilient people. But 2020 has been a test for us like no other," she wrote.

In May, Cyclone Amphan left a trail of devastation in its path in the south-western parts and then monsoon rains marooned one-third of Bangladesh, leaving thousands of people displaced and damaging vast tracts of crops, the PM added.

When water batters through someone's house, destroying his possessions, leaving pollution and disease in its way, it is tough, she said.

"It is doubly tough in a year when Covid-19 has struck, making it difficult to access clean water vital for sanitation and pandemic prevention."

Hasina said, "As I write in Dhaka, the waters of the Brahmaputra and Padma basins are receding. My people are getting their lives back, albeit under the shadow of coronavirus."

The premier through her article informed the global readers that the government was assessing flood defences and providing relief to those affected. "As ever, they are drawing up plans to ensure we are better prepared in the future, because in Bangladesh there is always a next time. The climate crisis does not sleep."

She warned the countries that feel they are immune to the climate crisis, to bankers and financiers who feel they can escape it. "You cannot. Covid-19 has shown that no country or business can survive alone. Only together can we tackle global crises. It has also demonstrated that prevention is easier than cure. That makes 2020 the year we must commit to listen to scientists."

The PM said they face a planetary emergency, a triple crisis of climate, health and nature. "Biodiversity loss is accelerated by climate change and exacerbates it."

Bangladesh is not alone in feeling the wrath of nature, she added.

This year fires have raged in the Amazon, Australia, California and Siberia. Cyclones and hurricanes have battered the US, Caribbean and much of Asia. The UK, host of the COP26 climate summit next year, suffered floods, read the article.

Hasina said climate change stems from the lack of sustainability of human activities. "We are experiencing floods, rainfalls, cyclones, heatwaves, landslides and droughts in recent years with more fury and intensity, which also endangers food security. We need to recognise their gravity."

A metre rise in sea level would inundate numerous small islands and coastal nations, she mentioned.

Floods from melting glaciers would bring catastrophe to mountainside countries, she said, adding that millions of people would become climate refugees. "The world does not have the capacity to shelter such numbers."

The G20 countries are responsible for about 80 percent of emissions while the bottom 100 countries only account for 3.5 percent, the PM said.

She said the emitters have greater responsibility and must make larger contributions through the mitigation needed to cap the global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Hasina said Bangladesh, as the current president of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, is seeking more support from the international community and the G20 for increased finance and access to technology to speed adaptation for those countries most at risk.

In that group, she said, Bangladesh is one of the best prepared for extreme weather. "We are building sea walls, planting mangrove forests, embedding resilience in all governmental work."

However, Bangladesh cannot walk this journey alone, she said. "Sixty-four countries and the EU have this week signed the Pledge for Nature to respond to the planetary emergency. They represent around 1.4bn people and one-quarter of global gross domestic product. From there, we need to build common political will at domestic and global level."

As hosts of the next COP, G7 and G20 meetings, the UK and Italy must drive this agenda, which requires a comprehensive support package for hardest hit nations, the PM said.

Business leaders, CEOs, CFOs and investors at all levels have a role to play, Hasina observed.

"You may believe your bottom line is quarterly results. But our common bottom line is far more important: if nature is degraded to the extent it cannot protect us, we will all suffer. What happens in Bangladesh affects stocks in London and New York," the PM wrote.


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