BANGLADESH'S CLIMATE DIPLOMACY
As countries are preparing for the next set of negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in France in December this year, there are many other meetings between countries taking place to identify areas of collaboration, either bilaterally or in smaller groups or in coalitions-of-the-willing.
The Government of Bangladesh has already taken the lead in initiating South-South and Triangular collaboration on development finance by hosting a meeting of developing countries in Dhaka recently, which included a session dedicated to climate finance.
The Bangladesh Bank has also been a global leader in initiating Green Banking and its Governor was awarded the Green Banker of the year award recently.
Other examples of Bangladesh sharing its knowledge and expertise on tackling climate change include a recent visit by a delegation from Nepal organised by the NGO Practical Action to exchange experience and knowledge on tackling climate change with Bangladeshi counterparts.
Another example is a one day seminar on Bangladesh-German collaboration to tackle climate change held at the United Nations University in Bonn, Germany in June, with the Bangladesh Counsellor in attendance, to showcase the climate change related activites between researchers, government agencies, banks and NGOs in Germany and Bangladesh, respectively.
The examples cited above are just a few of the many activities that are already taking place on both South-South as well as South-North knowledge exchange and cooperation to tackle climate change. However, these activities remain somewhat disconnected.
I would argue that it is perhaps now time for Bangladesh to integrate these different initiatives - each of which is good in its own right - into a more cohesive and comprehensive Programme on International Collaboration to Tackle Climate Change, under the leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), involving all the Bangladesh missions in other countries, both in developing as well as developed countries. Of course other ministries, such as the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) as well as the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Bangladesh Bank as well as parliamentarians, NGOs, universities, private sector and the media can all play a role but the leadership should be with MOFA. It should be treated as a new dimension of Bangladesh's diplomatic strategy of offering collaboration with all countries, both South and North, to tackle the global problem of climate change.
Finally, it is important to point out that such a programme would not replace the need to continue engagement at the UNFCCC talks to try to get a global agreement in Paris in December, but rather recognises that regardless of the outcome of the Paris talks, the actual reality of climate change will remain with us for decades to come. Collaboration with other countries on sharing knowledge and experience in practical ways to tackle the problem will also remain an important part of Bangladesh's foreign policy for many years to come.
The writer is Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University, Bangladesh.
Email: [email protected]