Environmental activists and researchers from across the world will meet in Berlin on Saturday to discuss alternative energy sources in Bangladesh and the negative aspects of constructing a coal-based thermal power plant next to the Sundarbans National Park.
Representatives from the US, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and other European countries will attend the two-day conference, titled “Saving the Sundarbans and Possibility of Alternative Energy Policy in Bangladesh”.
The government of Bangladesh is currently constructing a coal-based thermal power plant in Rampal, Bagerhat on the fringes of the world’s largest mangrove forest.
A signature collection campaign is being conducted among the conference participants for a joint statement to save the Sundarbans from damage caused by the power plant. The "Berlin Declaration 2017" to save the Sundarbans will be announced on Sunday, the last day of the gathering.
International organisations like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, 350 Organisation, Women Engage for a Common Future and London Mining and activists have already signed the petition and expressed their solidarity with the declaration.
Speakers at the conference will include Prof Anu Muhammad of Jahangirnagar University, Prof Wilfried Endlicher of Humboldt University, and the Managing Director of German-based NGO Forum on Environment and journalist, Katherine Fink.
According to experts, the power plant will cause unparalleled harm to the biodiversity in the sundarbans, which is a World Heritage Site declared by Unesco.
The lives of thousands of people who entirely depend on the forest for their living will be at stake, while more broadly the forest has always protected the coastal districts and the whole country during natural disasters, like cyclones Sidr and Aila.
A large number of professionals, teachers, students, environmentalists, researchers and journalists inside and outside Bangladesh have taken several attempts to range public opinion against the plant.
The Rampal plant project has been started at a time when developing countries across the world have been stepping out from the fossil fuel production and considering renewable energy to be the primary source of power production.