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Leading the way in adaptation

  • Published at 12:02 am September 15th, 2019
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Bangladesh doesn’t have just theoretical knowledge, but experiential knowledge of what works

On September 10, the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) released its flagship report on adaptation to climate change called “Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience.” 

The GCA was set up a year ago with the support of a number of governments, including Bangladesh, to prepare this flagship report for the climate summit to be held in New York on September 23. 

The GCA was co-chaired by Ban Ki-moon, Bill Gates, and Kristalina Georgieva of the World Bank (currently being considered to head the IMF) along with about 20 commissioners from around the world.

The GCA was not just supposed to produce the flagship report but to identify a set of Action Tracks which they would then follow up on through another year of action ending in October 2020 with an adaptation summit hosted by the PM of Netherlands in Rotterdam.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina hosted an important meeting of the GCA in Dhaka in July where the commissioners learned about the experience of Bangladesh, in adaptation to climate change and building our resilience going forward. 

Ban Ki-moon, who attended that meeting, noted the fact that Bangladesh has become a global leader in adaptation to climate change.

I was involved in helping write the chapter on supporting local-level adaptation for the flagship report, which has become an important action track on supporting local adaptation by the most vulnerable communities in the most vulnerable countries.

The main findings of the report are to highlight the need to enhance investment in adaptation to climate change in every country, not just government but private sector investors to multiply their investment in adaptation and building resilience. The report focuses on seven action tracks including food security, natural environment, water, cities, infrastructure, disaster risk reduction, supporting local adaptation, and finally on enhancing finance for adaptation.

On September 24, in New York (the day after the climate summit), the PM of the Netherlands will host a meeting in the UN to hand over the report to the UN secretary-general and launch the year of action for the GCA. 

Sheikh Hasina is expected to attend and announce the creation of a regional centre on adaptation to climate change in Dhaka to support research and action on adaptation and resilience in South Asia going forward. 

This new centre will be a joint venture between Bangladesh and the Netherlands and will be supported by the Global Centre on Adaptation based in Rotterdam.

It is expected that this regional centre in Bangladesh will allow us to share our experiences in tackling climate change with our neighbouring countries. 

Tackling the adverse impacts of climate change through adaptation is a learning-by-doing process where experiential knowledge of what works and what doesn’t is more important than theoretical knowledge only. Thus, Bangladesh can become a global leader in adaptation to climate change.

The International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) has also offered to host the launch of the local adaptation track of the GCA at the Gobeshona conference on climate change research into action to be held in Dhaka on January 2020, where the new regional centre on adaptation can also be launched by the government of Bangladesh.

I will be attending the Global Climate Summit in New York, as well as the launch of the GCA’s Year of Action, and will report back from there in the next two weeks. 

Saleemul Huq is Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University, Bangladesh.