Political parties must make bold and adequate pledges on combating climate change in their manifestos for the upcoming national election, said climate change experts and activists at a discussion in the capital yesterday.
They demanded an independent climate commission and accountability in spending climate funds from the would-be elected parties.
Bangladesh Climate Action Forum, an alliance of 42 organisations, held the discussion on "Climate Change in Election Manifestos: Context and Reality" at The Daily Star Centre.
“Political parties must understand that neither sustainable development goals nor middle-income status is achievable without addressing climate change,” said Farah Kabir, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh.
It is further imeprative for them to woo the climate-conscious young people who constitute about one-third of the country's electorates, she said.
The forum made a nine-point demand to all political parties taking part in the election for an independent climate commission or a ministry to bring about a transparent and participatory management of climate change funds.
Highest commitment of the political parties is expected for climate conservation, said Abdul Matin, general secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon.
“Due to political and business interests and corruption, successive governments have hardly taken practical actions on climate change,” he said.
Mizanur Rahman Bijoy, coordinator of Network on Climate Change in Bangladesh, in a presentation said that political parties did not even mention climate change in their election manifestos until 2008.
Bangladesh pursuing the Green Climate Fund, on the basis of being one of the world's most vulnerable countries to climate change, without enhancing utilisation efficiency might not work for long, he said, because spending climate change funds is often plagued with lack of coordination, transparency and capacity.
All climate policies, laws and national action plan must be made with representation of the vulnerable people and citizen groups, he added.
Dr Atiq Rahman, executive director of Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, said the climate change issue is so vast and serious that it deserves an independent ministry or a commission.
The local and global rich, not the poor, must pay for the climate change havoc, he said.
Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation, said, “The world is imperiled by the effects of climate change.”
Scientific reports of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change are alarming. Each and every country is going to be affected by climate change some way, she said.
“True, we strive for climate adaptation but we also need mitigation for development's sake,” said Anam who chaired the discussion.
Sharmeen Murshid, chief executive officer of Brotee, said that political parties should not deem the civil society groups as opponents in combating climate change.
Gawher Nayeem Wahra, founder member secretary of Disaster Forum, said the climate commission must be effective.