World Environment Day Bangladesh

World Environment Day  Bangladesh

On 5th June, the World Environment Day has been observed by all nations including Bangladesh to highlight the link between environment and well-being of human beings.

The theme for this year’s World Environment Day celebrations is “Think:Eat:Save” Think. Eat, Save is an anti-food waste and food loss campaign that encourages every one to reduce wastage of food.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger.

If food is wasted, it means that all the resources and inputs used in the production of all the food are also lost. For example, it takes about 1,000 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk and about 16,000 litres goes into a cow’s food to make a hamburger. The resulting greenhouse gas emissions from the cows themselves, and throughout the food supply chain, all end up in vain when we waste food.

In fact, the global food production occupies 25% of all habitable land and is responsible for 70% of fresh water consumption, 80% of deforestation, and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the largest single driver of biodiversity loss and land-use change.

In Bangladesh, various socio-political organisations including major political parties had chalked out programmes on the occasion. It demonstrates that people have become aware of the benefits of preservation of natural environment with flora and fauna. Print-media had come out with special supplements for the Day.


In Bangladesh, environment degradations are accentuated by


Population explosion compared to small size of land territory

Geographical location–in the north glaciers of the Himalayas are melting and in the south sea-rise is likely to rise

There is lack of awareness of the ill effects in people in rural areas and there is no organization which explains to ordinary people how the global climate change would adversely affect health, output in agriculture and disappearance of trees together with flora and fauna.

A recent report of UK Department for International Development (DFID) of 2007 presents a bleak picture of Bangladesh by 2030. The Report predicts that the population will be nearly 200 million by 2020, with 40% under the age of 15 years of age. An additional 6-8% of Bangladesh will be permanently under water and flood-prone areas will increase (from 25% to 40% by 2050).

At present, a severe cyclone strikes Bangladesh every three years, and the country faces serious monsoon inland flooding that may submerge over 60% of the country every 4 to 5 years. In a changing climate, Bangladesh is likely to experience higher-intensity cyclonic storm surges and heavier, more erratic monsoon flooding.

The World Bank Report in March 2012 estimates that monsoon floods will affect an additional 2 million people by inundating new areas due to climate change. For cyclonic storm surges, currently 8 million people in the coastal area are vulnerable to inundation depths greater than 3 meters and this number will increase to 13.5 million by 2050. In addition, another 9 million people are expected to be exposed to inundation depths above 3 meter due to climate change.

Furthermore every year 200,000 people are reportedly displaced from their lands due to river erosion. The sea –rise may submerge about 17% of Bangladesh territory in the south displacing about 23 million people.

World Vision Chief Economist, Brett Parris reportedly said that “climate poverty” in Bangladesh is on the rise and stated: “We are seeing a convergence of climate change and poverty that is reducing the ability of poor communities to grow crops, access water and house and feed themselves.”

Meeting the challenges in Bangladesh:

Bangladesh has been active at the highest political level to sensitize the environmental degradations to Bangladesh at various multilateral forums including at the UN. “Our contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is negligible, but the fact is that we are the worst sufferers of the global warming,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said.

A massive project has been undertaken for preservation of the bio-diversity of the ‘Sunderbans’ with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank. Coastal afforestation program is being strengthened. A program has been chalked out to conserve 10% per cent of the forest area of the country as reserve forests, national parks and natural conservatories by the year 2015.

Tiger counting programme and Tiger Save Project are running in the Sunderbans.

Meanwhile a robust 134-mitigation and adaptation action plan to combat the adverse effects of the climate change has been adopted by the government, recognising the wide range of stakeholders and their diverse interests in natural resource management and engaging these stakeholders fully. Massive forestation is being implemented through distribution of plants to people across the country.

Bangladesh will require climate-smart policies and investments to make itself more resilient to the effects of climate change, says a new World Bank report in March 2012 ‘The Cost of Adapting To Extreme Weather Events in a Changing Climate’.

The government has also adopted plans to formulate a long term vision “The Bangladesh Delta Plan-2100” for 50-100 years to address the country’s climate change related issues of water safety, food production, salt intrusion, land shortage and environmental and ecological problems. A Delta Plan Preparatory Team with Bangladesh and Dutch experts has been formed for the purpose.

The Delta Plan will facilitate conservation of natural resources in a comprehensive manner, especially the river floodplains and coastal ecosystems that will eventually ensure sustainable provision of services to the life and livelihoods of vulnerable people. It will also harmonise regional development plans for agriculture, environmental affairs, urbanisation, and tourism.

Funding in Bangladesh :

Oxfam estimates that at least $50 billion dollars will be needed per year if poor countries are to cope with global warming. It has called on the affluent countries to provide about 30% per cent of that sum in order to reflect both its wealth and its share of global toxic emissions.

The World Bank has said the high level event was organised to show-case the proactive responses of extremely vulnerable nations toward climate resilience as the nations are beginning to experience the early impacts of global climate change.

Over the last decades, it is reported the Bangladesh government has adopted measures in strengthening river embankments, building emergency cyclone shelters, and developing world class community- based early warning system which have significantly reduced the loss of life and livelihoods and property damages caused by extreme weather events..

To make the country less vulnerable to natural disasters, Bangladesh has successfully aligned its development partners to address the climate change challenge and established an innovative financing mechanism – the Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BBCRF).

So far, the BBCRF has channeled US$ 170 million in grant funds from seven development partners, namely Australia, Denmark, the EU, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the USA to strengthen the resilience to climate change.

On an interim basis, the World Bank is playing the role of trustee – conducting fiduciary transparency and accountability due diligence of the BCCRF, the World Bank press release added.

The government of Bangladesh has also created a separate “Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund” and allocated US$ 350 million from its own resources for the last four years consecutively – 2009 to 2012. Bangladesh has been implementing 106 projects to address climate change including better adaptation and mitigation.

Out of this fund, 10% would be allocated to private sector. . It is reported that 53 NGOs are being considered for funding to combat the global warming fallout. World Bank would provide technical assistance and trustee of the fund for 5 years (2010-2014) and would charge 4.5% per cent for its service.

Another source of fund of $110 million is the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience which has been supported by World Bank, Asian Development Bank and International Finance Corporation. There are five specific projects such as food security, coastal water supply, sanitation, capacity building and coastal housing.

The combined amount of three funds stands at $548 million. The World Bank report estimates that adaptation costs from increased risks of cyclones and inland monsoon floods in a changing climate for Bangladesh will be approximately US$5.7 billion by 2050.

The departmental projects include the Community based Adaptation in the Ecologically Critical Areas through Biodiversity Conservation and Social Projection Project, Development Initiative ”Bondhu Chula” Improve Cook Stoves Project, Development of Agricultural weather Forecasting system to protect agriculture from adverse impacts of climate change, Setting up Rubber Dam at Rangunia, the Araikha River Embankment Protection Project in Madaripur.

Thee other projects will be undertaken by local government and one NGO. Palli Daridro Bimochan Foundation will implement the Renewable Energy Development in remote off grid (Char and Haor) areas, Satkhira Zila Parishad will undertake a Rehabilitation Project, Mymensingh Municipality will carry out work to reduce Water-Logging in the area

Bangladesh has been nominated by the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to help poor countries fighting global warming, said Minister for Environment and Forests Dr Hasan Mahmud.

Global programme on Climate Change:

The Doha conference in 2012 (COP-17) has established for the first time that rich nations should move towards compensating poor nations for losses due to climate change. Although developing nations hailed it as a breakthrough, they condemned the gulf between the science of climate change and political will to tackle it.

It was agreed at Doha to have work plan for the new global treaty to be concluded by 2015, (to take effect from 2020) which will bind all countries-developed and developing nations including emerging economies led by Brazil, Mexico, China and India that have no targets under Kyoto Protocol


Making informed decision by government and community therefore means to purposefully select foods that have less of an environmental impact, such as organic foods that do not use chemicals in the production process. Choosing to buy locally can also mean that foods are not flown halfway across the world and therefore limit carbon emissions.

So you think before what you eat and help save our environment.

By Barrister Harun ur Rashid

Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva.

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