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Can timely adaptation to climate change save Bangladesh from disaster?

  • Published at 10:45 pm September 13th, 2017
  • Last updated at 11:52 pm September 13th, 2017
Can timely adaptation to climate change save Bangladesh from disaster?
Bangladesh, being one of the most vulnerable countries to the adverse effects of climate change, has gone through more than a decade of planning and implementation of adaptation actions, and has learned some valuable lessons from the experience. This article aims to portray the evolution of adaptation planning and also derive some lessons from that experience. The adaptation experience can be roughly divided into three time periods, namely, the past from 2001 to 2010, the present from 2011 to 2020, and the future from 2020 to 2030. It can also be divided roughly into three domains: The global domain represented by decisions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),the national and sectoral planning domain within Bangladesh, and, finally, the implementation domain within Bangladesh (see Diagram). Below is a discussion on the evolution and lessons from each of these time periods and domains of adaptation planning and actions below. Phase one (2001 to 2010) The story starts in 2001 at the seventh Conference of Parties (COP7) of the UNFCCC held in Marrakech, Morocco where the Marrakech Accords were agreed upon, recognisingfor the first time the need to address adaptation to climate change and the need to assist Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in this regard. Thus, the UNFCCC provided support to all the 48 LDCs, including Bangladesh, to carry out a National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) to do a rapid vulnerability analysis and identify some immediate priority adaptation actions which could then be funded by the newly created LDC Fund (LDCF). Bangladesh was one of the first LDCs to complete its NAPA and get some funding for an adaptation project. Phase two (2011 to 2020) While all the LDCs were submitting their respective NAPAs to the UNFCCC and Adaptation project proposals to the LDCF for funding, Bangladesh took a unique initiative on its own to develop the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) with its own financial and intellectual resources. The BCCSAP was divided into six pillars under which over forty actions were identified. Most of the pillars and actions were related to adaptation although there were also some mitigation ones as well. In order to fund the actions under the BCCSAP, Bangladesh set up two separate funds, one with its own resources called the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF), and anothercalled the Bangladesh Climate Resilience Fund (BCRF)with contributions from development partners such as the UK, USA, Australia, Denmark, among others. Both funds were meant to support actions identified in the BCCSAP by government ministries and agencies with a 10% allocation for civil society and NGOs. Over the last decade these two funds have received and allocated nearly a billion US dollars to hundreds of adaptation projects and activities both within the government and with civil society. Although there is yet to be a thorough evaluation of all the activities, the climate finance did indeed result in a higher level of awareness and understanding of climate change across all the major stakeholder groups in Bangladesh. These lessons need to now be applied to the next phase going forward. At the same time that Bangladesh was carrying out its planning and implementation of adaptation actions, the UNFCCC agreed that all countries should prepare National Adaptation Plans (NAP). These plans should be long-term and with an intent to eventually mainstream adaptation into national planning. Bangladesh is currently preparing its NAP under the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF). Also under the Paris Agreement which was adopted at COP21 in December 2015, all countries had prepared and submitted their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which have to describe the mitigation actions but allow countries to choose to include adaptation if they wish. Bangladesh is now preparing its NDC with adaptation included also under the MOEF. Phase three (2020 to 2030) The coming decade will be significant for Bangladesh in that it will require adaptation to climate change to be included in various upcoming national plans such as the 2041 Perspective Plan, the 8th Five Year Plan from 2021 to 2026, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) up to 2030, and the Delta Plan to 2100. Thus, the main challenge for Bangladesh is to successfully "mainstream" adaptation into all the above mentioned national plans as well as sectoral plans in agriculture, water, coastal zone, disaster management, and local development plans. Financing Adaptation At the global level there have been numerous sources of funding for adaptation from which Bangladesh has received some money but not nearly enough. These include the funds created under the UNFCCC such as the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the LDCF, the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), the Adaptation Fund (AF), and, most recently, the Green Climate Fund (GCF). There are also bilateral funds from developed countries and funding from multilateral banks such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. However, the amount of funding Bangladesh received from some of these sources is not nearly enough, so while we keeping trying to access the global climate funding, especially the GCF, Bangladesh will also need to allocate funds for adaptation out of our national budget, rather than through the BCCTF. Concluding lessons The first lesson is that while it made sense to set up parallel adaptation plans and funds for the initial learning and capacity building phases, it is now important to mainstream adaptation into national, sectoral and local level plans and fund them from the national budget allocations, supplemented by global climate finance. Second, as we try to bring in as much global climate funds as possible, the funds should be blended with national funds to make the most effective use of the money. A caveat here: We must make sure that climate funds can be traced, measured, and evaluated in a transparent and credible manner. Finally.it is important for all the non-government stakeholders to also take appropriate actions on adaptation. These include the private sector, the academic and research sectors, media, women's groups, youth, and all others to take on their own respective adaptation planning and implementation as we move forward to the next decade. If everyone does their part effectively then not only can Bangladesh become one of the most adaptive countries but we can also become a global leader and share our knowledge with the rest of the world.   Dr Saleemul Huq is the Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University, Bangladesh. Prof Mizan Khan is at North South University