Bangladesh's role in the climate change negotiations
Prime Minister Hasina is now in Marrakech, Morocco, for the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
She was invited, along with other heads of government and ministers, by the King of Morocco to attend the opening of the first meeting of Parties to the Paris Agreement here on November 15.
In her speech, the PM highlighted the actions that Bangladesh is taking at home to tackle climate change and also reiterated the importance of dealing with migration and displacement at the global level which will become a bigger problem unless we plan for it under the UNFCCC.
This was a historic occasion as the Paris Agreement, which was negotiated and agreed upon last year at COP21 in Paris, was then ratified by over a hundred countries in record speed and came into force on November 4, with the first meeting of the Parties held in Marrakech on November 15.
The presence of Prime Minister Hasina at this historic event showed the continued importance that Bangladesh gives to climate change and also to the significant role that Bangladesh has played at the COPs over the years.
As no country negotiates in the UNFCCC as a single country, but rather within negotiating groups, Bangladesh negotiates as a member of the Least Developing Countries (LDC) group and was at one time the chair of the group but now remains in the senior group of LDC negotiators.
There are a number of experienced negotiators from Bangladesh who have been selected by the LDC group, due to their expertise on different topics, to represent the LDCs on those topics.
Bangladesh has also been selected to be a member of a number of important bodies set up by the UNFCCC over the years, such as the Adaptation Fund Board, the Green Climate Fund Board and the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage. This is another recognition of Bangladesh's expertise and importance in this area by the other counties.
In addition to the officials from government who attend the COPs, there are also many NGOs who hold side events on different topics as well as a number of reporters from both TV and print media in Bangladesh who report back to their news outlets every day. There are also a number of Bangladeshi experts who attend these programmes as part of other institutions, including UN agencies.
Hence, Bangladesh is certainly recognised in the UNFCCC talks as an important country both due to its actions at home as well as its negotiators and other representatives at the COPs.
One of the perennial misconceptions of what Bangladesh achieves by attending and participating in these annual meetings, is perpetuated by the need to ask what Bangladesh got out of the meeting. This is often the first question asked by every journalist to the head of the delegation after each meeting. The misconception is that Bangladesh is not attending these events to get something for itself but rather for the vulnerable counties as a whole and in that capacity I must rate Bangladesh's negotiators and other participants at the COPs as second to none!
The writer is Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University, Bangladesh.