Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the environmental balance of Cox’s Bazar was under threat as hills and forests were being cleared to establish settlements for Rohingyas.
“For this [presence of Rohingya], the natural equilibrium is being destabilised in that area... settlements are being established clearing forests and hills. As a result, those areas are becoming unsecure and risky too,” she said.
The PM was addressing the inauguration ceremony of the “Dhaka Meeting of the Global Commission on Adaptation” at Hotel InterContinental Dhaka.
Mentioning that Bangladesh has given shelter to a large number of Myanmar nationals on humanitarian ground, she said the country is stepping forward with a big burden on its shoulder.
Hasina said Bangladesh wants the Rohingyas to return to their homeland as soon as possible. “The quicker they return to their homeland, the better for Bangladesh, and I do believe that.”
Talking about adaptation, she said adaptation measures cannot be spread unless proper mitigation measures are in place.
The PM said in this age of science, technology and innovation, there is an 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 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,” the PM said.
She recalled that in 2015 in Paris all had 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 have 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.”
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 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 tract of land in Bangladesh.”
These changes are seriously affecting agriculture, crops, livestock and fisheries, and threatening the food security of Bangladesh, she added.
The PM 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 a project titled Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 for combating climate change.”
She 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.”
The PM said the government has taken initiatives to increase tree coverage from 22 percent to 24 percent 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.”
Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine, World Bank CEO and Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) co-chair Kristalina Georgieva, the current chair of the GCA and former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and Environment, Forests and Climate Change Minister Shahab Uddin also spoke at the programme.
The GCA is guided by 32 commissioners and 19 convening countries, representing all regions of the globe, and co-managed by the Global Centre on Adaptation and World Resources Institute.