As one of the countries that are most vulnerable to the climate change, Bangladesh has been working relentlessly to combat the effects of extreme weather events induced by climate change. According to the German Watch Global Climate Index Report, Bangladesh is among the 10 most vulnerable nations affected by climate change. The impacts of climate change have become more real for us since natural disasters such as cyclones, floods, river erosion, and drought have increased both in number and ferocity in the country, displacing hundreds and thousands of people annually. Reportedly, even a one-metre rise in the sea level will have disastrous impacts on our coastal regions. Bangladesh will lose 17.5 percent of its land by 2050, which would displace an estimated 20 to 30 million people.
Now the question is, where would all these climate refugees go? Is it only the responsibility of Bangladesh and other vulnerable countries to accommodate this huge number of displaced people? What role can the global community play in protecting the rights of the climate refugees?
Under the circumstances, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s call to the global community was very timely. She has rightly said that climate change has become an existential threat for countries like ours. At the opening session of COP25, known as the UN Climate Change Conference, the prime minister has urged the global community to take responsibility for climate migrants by accommodating them and providing them with livelihoods as they would be displaced for no fault of their own.
Bangladesh has already made a compact national adaptation plan which is now under implementation. It has taken mitigation measures to reduce and eventually reach zero emission in the future. Bangladesh is the first LDC to establish a Climate Change Trust Fund and has so far spent more than USD 415 million from its own resources for mitigation and adaptation purposes.
However, without the necessary support from the world community, it would be difficult to deal with the issue of climate refugees. An appropriate framework is needed to address the needs of the people displaced by climate change. At the same time, the world’s major emitters should be held accountable for their inaction to mitigate the impacts of climate change.