Mainstreaming climate change with development

(This article was originally posted here)

The government is planning to update the climate change strategy and action plan in line with the current situation to set priority, directions and importance while undertaking development projects.

“We are planning to make the updates as the climatic situation in Bangladesh has been changing gradually and some new issues need to be incorporated,” said Kamal Uddin Ahmed, secretary to the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

The Bangladesh Climate Change and Action Plan (BCCSAP) was adopted as a guideline in 2009 with an aim to combat the impacts of global warming.

With this, Bangladesh also became the first country in the world to have a guideline of this sort.

The guideline comprises six thematic pillars: food security, social protection and health; comprehensive disaster management; infrastructure, research and knowledge management; mitigation and low carbon development; capacity building; and institutional development.

Dr Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, welcomed the decision because he thinks that the situation has changed in the past few years.

“The mainstreaming includes four considerations: including components in development projects instead of dealing with climate change as a standalone issue; lessons learned from previous fund expenditures and project management; losses and damage incurred; and migration. These should be incorporated in the updated strategy and action plan,” he prescribed.

Under this guideline, the government has already formed the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund with its own resources worth Tk2,900 core in 2009-10 fiscal year.

In addition, the Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund was formed with financial support from Denmark, the European Union, Sweden, the UK, Switzerland, Australia and the US. This is a $188m fund for building resilience to the effects of climate change.

“The decision to update the Bangladesh Climate Change and Action Plan is obviously good. Three things including transfer of technology, capacity building and fund raising from global community should be incorporated in the document to make it time-worthy,” said Prof Ainun Nishat, who led the formulation of BCCSAP in 2009.

According to the document, the Climate Change Action Plan is a 10-year programme (2009-18) to build capacity and resilience to meet the challenges of climate change. The needs of the poor and vulnerable, including women and children, will be mainstreamed in all activities under the action plan.

However, there are allegations that many projects taken in the past did not follow the guideline.

Ainun Nishat said the financial and overall management of these funds have so far been very poor and this, therefore, should be given importance while updating the BCCSAP.

He also suggested that the government should initiate a comprehensive evaluation of the implementation of the guideline over the last few years, before updating it, for the best results.

According to the fifth assessment report of Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, Bangladesh is identified as being at specific risk from climate change due to its exposure to sea-level rise and extreme events like salinity intrusion, drought, erratic rainfall and tidal surge which will hamper the country’s food as well as livelihood security.

Written by: Abu Bakar Siddique