During July last year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina hosted the Global Commission on Adaptation meeting in Dhaka attended by the co-chairs of the Commission, former Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and Kristalina Georgiva, head of the International Monetary Fund. During the bilateral discussion between the Prime Minister and Ban Ki-moon, she offered to host the regional centre of the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA), which is based in the Netherlands and which he chairs.
Yesterday, the South Asian Regional Centre of the GCA office in Dhaka was launched by the Prime Minister and Ban Ki-moon in an online event. The Prime Minister of the Netherlands and ministers from the countries in South Asia also attended and spoke at the event.
This new GCA office will be located in the new building of the Department of Environment (DOE) in Agargaon and will be an international centre hosted by the Government of Bangladesh. The new GCA Dhaka office marks a significant step in taking Bangladesh's knowledge and experience to the regional, as well as global, levels over the coming years.
The South Asian Regional GCA centre will aim to share knowledge and experience on adaptation to climate change between countries in the region as well as globally. It will have a special focus on locally led adaptation which has become a signature achievement in the region, including Community Based Adaptation (CBA) in Bangladesh and the Local Adaptation Plans of Action (LAPA) in Nepal. The new Dhaka based GCA Centre will aim to be a global centre of excellence on locally led adaptation.
The other area of special focus will be on ensuring that future development, particularly that of infrastructure, is based on Nature Based Solutions (NBS). One thing that the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us is that all future investments globally need to be NBS focused if we wish to avoid future pandemics. The countries of South Asia already have some excellent examples of such investments, ranging from the coastal afforestation in Bangladesh, community based forestry in Nepal and Bhutan, marine ecosystem based tourism in Sri Lanka and Maldives, drought management through water conservation in India and Pakistan and many other such examples. The aim of the GCA Dhaka centre will be to help accelerate and scale up all these examples of NBS in all the countries in the region.
Another major focus of the new centre will be to assist the countries in the region to ensure that their cities and towns, which are already having to host an increasing numbers of climate induced migrants, are able to ensure adequate housing, water and protection from heat stress and other health hazards, which are becoming bigger issues in the region quite rapidly.
The modality of work of the new regional centre in Dhaka will be to partner with governments, private sector, development partners, civil society and media in each country, as well as across the region, and then link to the global level on adaptation to climate change and the collective journey towards resilience.
The fact that Bangladesh currently chairs the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) and that the GCA is the managing partner of the CVF will enable the Dhaka office to support the sharing of knowledge and collective advocacy across the nearly 50 CVF countries as well. This will be particularly important as we approach the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021, as well as the Climate Adaptation Summit (CAS) to be held on January 25, 2021.
Finally, the GCA will be making a major effort to galvanise the world's youth through a global Youth Adaptation Network (YAN), which will have chapters at the regional as well as national levels around the world. This global YAN was officially launched yesterday by Saima Wajed Hossain, who is the Special Envoy for Vulnerability of the CVF. It will start by having a series of consultations with youth based in every region, starting in South Asia and Bangladesh.
The future success in the battle against human induced climate change over the next decade will need to be fought by the youth of today, who will become the leaders of tomorrow. The youth of Bangladesh will thus have an opportunity to lead this movement in the coming years.
Dr Saleemul Huq is director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University, Bangladesh.