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Climate Change Battle: Developing Local Expertise in Bangladesh

  • Published at 04:45 pm April 3rd, 2019
Climate Change Battle
Photo : Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

The Second Annual International Conference on Climate Finance discussed on Bangladesh’s current and prospective, opportunities and challenges for accessing climate funds

Fighting the inescapable battle of climate change requires Least Developed Countries (LDCs) like Bangladesh to have country prioritized interventions. These programs should incorporate stakeholders, different actors and local practitioners to ensure the development of a country on a needs basis and include context-specific solutions to climate change. According to both the Paris Agreement and Green Climate Fund, funds mobilized by developed countries requires LDCs to ensure a country-driven approach. This approach utilises local expertise to develop and strengthen engagement and ownership at the country level, the sense of ownership or active involvement of stakeholders to any mitigation or adaptation plan becomes difficult when outside experts formulate strategies.

The two-day long Second Annual International Conference on Climate Finance (ICCF,2019), was swamped with diverse knowledge on work being done for climate change finance at the household, community, national and international level. The conference hosted both international and domestic experts, participants and presenters, creating opportunities for discussions on Bangladesh’s current and prospective, opportunities and challenges for accessing climate funds. The fifth session of the conference focused on country-driven adaptation and mitigation as an essential architect to address climate change.

In the fight to combat climate change impacts, the Bangladesh government currently contributes more funding than donors (Eskander & Steele, 2019). In the year 2015-16, Bangladesh had financed tk3092  per affected household (114 billion taka in total) on climate finances while on the same period, international donor funding for this cause was only tk168  per household. This statistics shows that there is utterly inadequate investment from the donor agencies compared to the government  in climate finance, and the importance attached to the agenda by the government of Bangladesh. 

If Bangladesh being a developing country can make such stark investments in climate finances, then why can’t we in this process invest more to build our local expertise ensuring more homegrown strategies? Maybe it’s time to opt for our local, in-country expertise to find and act on climate change adaptation strategies as opposed to having external experts, who come with their own set of knowledge and expertise and experience which might not be too relevant for our country context. 

We have a great blend of local experts driving the climate change policy front not just in Bangladesh but globally. We have experts like Dr Saleemul Huq, director of International Center for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), who has recently been recognized as one of world’s 100 most influential people in climate policy for the year 2019. We have Dr Atiq Rahman who was nominated the Champion of the earth for the year 2008 and was a co-recipient of Nobel peace prize in 2007 jointly awarded to IPCC and Al Gore. We also have world renowned economist like Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, a member of the Executive Board of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), chairman of the PKSF. Working on the promotion of sustainable development, Dr Ahmad was also part of the winning 2007 Nobel peace prize team.  Apart from Individuals leading the climate forefront we have different research institutes such as ICCCAD, PROKAS, BCAS, C3R undertaking world-class research initiatives on climate change. ICCCAD is running a Master’s program on climate change for students from home and abroad. The students and young practitioners could be groomed by the in-country pathfinders, as well as trained in best international institutes.

So, it’s high time that Bangladesh should depend on enhancing its internal capacity to address climate change problems. We might be a silent victim to climate change, but we do not need to be passive actors waiting for international experts to help us. We have the capacity and need to build that further to fight our own battle 

Rukhsar Sultana is an intern at ICCCAD, and has an MA in Environmental Studies with a background on wastewater management and plastic pollution.