Bangladesh’s forest and natural environment has been severely affected by the large influx of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has told a gathering of world leaders at an environment summit in France.
The “One Planet Summit” is an alliance of hundreds of global leaders from all sectors for accelerating the collective actions against climate change, and particularly for finding new ways to finance adaptation and mitigation efforts.
In her statement at the high-level segment of the summit on Tuesday, Sheikh Hasina said the refugee crisis has significantly impacted climate adaptation efforts.
“Bangladesh has been facing a huge challenge owing to the influx of over one million forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar,” the premier said.
“On humanitarian grounds, we have given them shelter on 1,783 hectares of our forest land in Cox’s Bazar. The Rohingya crisis has severely affected forest and environment in that area.”
During her statement, PM Hasina reiterated her call to the developed countries to fulfil their commitments in bringing climate justice and meeting historical responsibility.
“We can secure the world only through shared responsibility,” Sheikh Hasina said.
“Our collective commitments and actions for resilience and adaptation will contribute to peace, stability and prosperity as well as addressing inequalities across societies.”
The Bangladesh premier is attending the summit at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, who are co-organizers.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of climate change even though it is not responsible for this threat.
“Yet, with our limited resources, we are addressing the consequences of climate change by mitigation and adaptation,” she said.
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The premier said climate change issues have been mainstreamed in Bangladesh’s drive to become a middle-income country by 2021. “Despite being a developing country, Bangladesh spends over 1% of its GDP in combating climate change,” she said.
Reiterating Bangladesh’s commitment to prioritizing water sustainability issues in all of its economic, social and environmental actions, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is a firmly committed member of the UN-WB High Level Panel on Water.
“We are making our agriculture climate resilient and reducing dependency on groundwater for urban water supply,” she said.
The “One Planet Summit” is being held at La Seine Musicale, a music and performing arts center located at Ile Senguin island in the western suburbs of Paris, the French capital.
Over 100 world leaders along with 2,000 participants from non-governmental organisations, foundations, public and private sectors are taking part.
The Bangladesh prime minister renewed her commitment for the implementation of the Paris Agreement and praised French President Macron’s leadership on climate change issues.
Sheikh Hasina said one of the means to address the challenges of climate change and environmental degradation is afforestation.
“In the coastal region, a green belt is being created for protecting people from cyclones and tidal surges, coastal erosion and saline water intrusion,” she said. “Around 67,000 hectares of land has been identified for afforestation in this region.”
The premier said a flagship project costing $50.76 million is underway for conservation of the Sundarbans – the world’s largest mangrove forest and a Unesco world heritage site in Bangladesh.
Sheikh Hasina said her government would take necessary programmes for increasing 2% tree coverage in Bangladesh, from the existing 22% to 24% within the next five years.
“We will intensify our efforts to meet the target from our own resources as well as with support from partners,” she said.