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Can Bangladesh handle floods better by developing mountains?

  • Published at 08:02 pm February 17th, 2019
web-David Molden, director general of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)
David Molden, director general of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan/Dhaka Tribune

In an exclusive interview with the Dhaka Tribune, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development Director General, David Molden, reveals how Bangladesh can work with its upstream neighbours to better adapt to climate change

Bangladesh can benefit a great deal in dealing with floods by cooperating with other countries on mountain issues, said David Molden, director general of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) – an intergovernmental knowledge organization – asserting that it is deeply engaged with Bangladesh on a wide range of issues.

After releasing a comprehensive study by ICIMOD in Kathmandu, David told the Dhaka Tribune that the ICIMOD is actively engaging stakeholders, not just announcing their findings from studies.

He said: “We have been working closely with Bangladesh since our inception 36 years ago. We engage policymakers, government officials, and other stakeholders on issues tied to mountain development.”

The study titled “The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment; Mountains, Climate Change, Sustainability and People” warns of severe consequences if action is not taken to stop the melting of glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region.

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The ICIMOD has eight regional member countries of the Hindu Kush Himalaya – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan.

The ICIMOD chief singled out flooding as an issue for Bangladesh, and how it can be better handled by developing relationships with upstream countries.

“We find that Bangladesh is very interested in what is happening upstream and what that means for Bangladesh,” he said, stressing the need for collaboration with upstream countries.

As Bangladesh lies at the edge of the Ganges delta, the entire water from the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers flows through it to the Bay of Bengal. Nearly all of Bangladesh, except for the Chittagong Hill Tracts, is a floodplain.

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He also highlighted the Chittagong Hill Tracts as an important factor for Bangladesh, while noting that close relations between the mountains and plains is very important.

Regarding the next step after the study, David said: “We realize that it is insufficient to just write a report and expect everybody to know. We are pro-actively trying to get the message out and hope that the public takes an interest.

“Then we want to go from country to country. Bangladesh is one of the eight countries in the ICIMOD and we want to discussion the subject  with government officials and policymakers, about the study’s findings and implications.”

The director general went on to say: “I think it is important that the eight countries sharing these mountains are working together on this...range of issues like what is happening, sharing experiences, ideas and information. They also need to develop their understanding of climate change and recognize its impact on flooding.”

He expressed optimism about countries working together: “We hope this report will also trigger more collaboration around mountains to the benefit of the other countries. We will be having science policy forums in the member countries where they will discuss the issues related to the mountains.”

David also shared an idea for a meeting between the environment ministers of all member states to discuss mountain issues.

He also hoped to visit Bangladesh within the next few months.