Dhaka Courier

Bangladesh is the best teacher on adaptation: Ban Ki-moon

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Marshall Island President Dr Hilda Heine, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank CEO and Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) co-chair Dr Kristaline Georgieva are seen with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a city hotel on 10 July - PID

He lauds miraculous achievements by people, government

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries in terms of climate change. If there is one meter rise of sea water, as per various estimates, one third of its land will go under water and such is likely to displace nearly 30 million people out of their sweet homes and traditional livelihood. Where will they go? To find answers, Bangladesh hosted ‘Dhaka Meeting of the Global Commission on Adaptation’ last week (July 10) that stressed the importance of taking urgent steps to invest and scale up adaptation.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the event participated by foreign dignitaries including Marshall Island President Dr Hilda Heine, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank CEO and Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) co-chair Dr Kristaline Georgieva

Ban, current chair of the Global Commission on Adaptation, branded Bangladesh as the “best teacher” in climate adaptation noting that what the people and government of Bangladesh have achieved in the practice of adaptation is nothing short of miraculous.

“Let’s all be inspired by the examples Bangladesh government and its people have shown in addressing climate change,” Ban said thanking the Bangladesh leadership for wisely and effectively adapting to this climate change.

Highly appreciating Bangladesh’s efforts, Ban Ki-moon said they are in Dhaka to learn from Bangladesh’s experiences and vision and send the message out across the world.

“….Bangladesh is thus the best teacher to learn from about adaptation,” said Ban adding that Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries due to climate change.

Citing reports, Ban Ki-moon said some 17 percent of Bangladesh will go under water by 2050 if sea levels rise by just one metre.

“We’ll work together (globally) to accelerate climate change adaptation around the world,” he said appreciating the political will and leadership shown in Bangladesh.

Ban said he had a very good discussion with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina before the inaugural session of the meeting. “We would like to establish an adaptation centre in Dhaka.”

He mentioned that he was in China 10 days ago where they established an adaptation centre in Beijing.

Another reason to hold this meeting in Dhaka, he said, is to speed up action on adaptation.

“Communities all over the world need help. There’re many countries who are just as vulnerable as Bangladesh, but which have not the ability to build resilience on their own,” Ban Ki-moon said.

He also cited Bangladesh’s long-term plan for the resilience of the delta, Delta Plan 2100, with the help of Netherlands. “We need to share this adaptation practices. We can urgently and cost-effectively find ways to support communities affected by climate change. We can help them survive and thrive. Adaption is a smart investment.”

Ban said the climate change is approaching much faster than one may think of and there is no time to lose.

He said the Commission will publish its flagship report noting that the report will be a different, action-oriented. “I can assure you that.”

Ban Ki-moon mentioned the 1970s when a cyclone killed half a million people. “Now you’ve effective adaptation system. You can save property and human lives. This is adaptation in action. This is why we’re here to learn from you and send message far and wide from Dhaka,” Ban said.

He mentioned that there were only 12 fatalities during Cyclone Fani in Bangladesh. “Thanks to the more accurate weather forecasting, community-based early warning system and cyclone centres -- 1.6 million people were moved to safety…”

In 2009, Bangladesh became the first country in the world to create national adaptation programme of action.

The Dhaka Meeting will prepare a set of recommendations on climate change adaptation for the UN.

Climate change is the defining issue of time and now is the defining moment to do something about it, according to UN.

There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society, it says.

To boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will host the 2019 Climate Action Summit on September 23 to meet the climate challenge.

The Summit will showcase a leap in collective national political ambition and demonstrate massive movements in the real economy in support of the agenda.

Together, these developments will send strong market and political signals and inject momentum in the “race to the top” among countries, companies, cities and civil society that is needed to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, according to the UN.

No minute to lose: WB CEO

World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva has said they have no time to lose but act to accelerate adaptation for protecting the loss of lives and livelihoods with a more resilient world in place.

“Time isn’t our friend. We’ve no minute to lose. We ought to accelerate adaptation. This is what our Commission is determined to do,” she said while addressing the inaugural session of the ‘Dhaka Meeting of the Global Commission on Adaptation’ at Hotel Intercontinental.

Appreciating Bangladesh’s achievements since independence, the WB CEO said the country has proven the most important message that development is the best resilience builder.

“Thank you (Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina) for leading the world on adaptation,” said Georgieva mentioning that she was dreaming of this moment to come to Bangladesh since she was in high school and the country got its independence.

Georgieva said she has admired the remarkable success since 1972 noting that per capita income has gone up from $100 to $1,500, and Bangladesh is well on track by 2030 to bring poverty down to under 3 percent.

“It’s a country with high population density. It has managed to bring down population growth by mostly empowering women bringing girls school and creating jobs,” she said adding that development is the best resilience builder.

Georgieva said she is very impressed by what Bangladesh has demonstrated to the rest of the world, despite its own problems, it can show compassion to those who are fleeing for their lives (Rohingyas).

“I very humbly want to say thank you (Sheikh Hasina). You’re an example for the world to follow,” she said giving a look at Prime Minister Hasina.

Justifying the convening of the meeting in Dhaka, Georgieva said it is the epicentre what climate risks mean and also how action can make people protected against climate risks.

Bangladesh was ranked number one economy at risk of climate change by the climate change vulnerability index in 2014.

“But it’s a source of place where early warning system bringing people to safety. We’ve seen incredible ingenuity in dealing with climate change,” she said.

Georgieva said she used to tell a story everywhere is how the communities of Bangladesh came up with very smart adaptation measures from switching chickens to ducks because when floods come chickens die, ducks swim. “We at the Bank are very proud to be your partner.”

She said there will be at least four dollars of benefits from preventing higher damage against every dollar investment.

The World Bank Chief Executive Officer said Bangladesh has shown the world what can be done through disaster preparedness and adaptation despite being extremely vulnerable to climate change.

Since its establishment, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said, the Global Commission on Adaptation has taken a number of initiatives to draw international attention to these sufferings of the vulnerable communities.

Bangladesh thanked former UN chief Ban and all the Commissioners for their deep commitment and engagement. It is expected that the Commission will come up with new course in adaptation actions all over the world.

  • Bangladesh is the best teacher on adaptation: Ban Ki-moon
  • Vol 36
  • AKM Moinuddin
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