Months ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP27 in Egypt, Bangladesh is set to unveil a massive National Adaptation Plan that it will showcase to the international community at Sharm el-Sheikh to highlight the country’s vulnerability and argue for a compensation from a climate justice platform.
A National Adaptation plan, formulated by the ministry of environment, forest and climate change entails to save the vastly delta country from hydrological disasters, mainly floods and cyclones. It seeks a budget of US$230 billion to be spent over the coming 27 years between 2023 and 2050. It is presently pending an approval from the cabinet.
Bangladesh has drawn up a strategy to seek compensation for the damage caused to the country by climate change at COP27 at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in December. The Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Services, a climate change research institute, is tasked to source information on climate-related losses on behalf of the government.
CEGIS estimates that Bangladesh loses 1.3 per cent of its GDP every year due to climate change. The country’s GDP stood at $465 billion in the 2021-22 fiscal year and it lost $4.65 billion. It is estimated that this loss will escalate in the years to come and could well exceed 2 per cent of GDP by 2030 and 9 per cent of the GDP by 2050 under the present state of affairs.
Bangladesh’s expenses to deal with such damage to its infrastructure and farmlands and the impact on communities could be as high as US$8.5 billion annually.
With this plan at hand, Bangladesh is strategizing to highlight the country’s vulnerability and argue for a compensation from a climate justice platform.
Preparing for COP27
According to Malik Fida A Khan, acting executive director of CEGIS, “To protect the country from environmental disasters, this huge monetary amount will not only be drawn from the government’s Annual Development Programme but a significant portion of the expenditure will be provided by the developed world, the United Nations and donor agencies.”
“Whenever we participate in climate conferences or COPs, we are asked about the extent of damage caused by climate change. So far, we have been unable to provide numbers.”
“Now, we have prepared a long-term planning document detailing how much we lose from the effects of climate change and how we can be compensated for the loss.”
“Donors want to see our documents during talks. So, the government has devised this new plan. We will take this plan to the climate conference or COP. We will present it to the climate fund, the developed world, donors and UN agencies.”
Khan says that this will serve as one of the most important documents for Bangladesh in terms of collecting money from development partners during international negotiations.
“Now, we can discuss how much money the donors will provide. They may want to know about the high-priority sectors in the plan. Then they might talk about collaborations.”
“Afterwards, we will fix how much money we have to provide. Then we will decide how much we can actually provide.”
As many as 23 adaptation strategies have been identified to meet these six goals, the proper implementation of which will play an important role in achieving the 28 identified results at the national level and reducing the risks caused by climate change.
20 million face displacement
Climate change related disasters are not new to Bangladesh. The Plain of Bengal or the Lower Gangetic Plain covers roughly 80 per cent of the country and large parts of the country stand at less than 10 metres above sea level. Inundation is common, especially because numerous rivers criss-cross these low-lying plains. About 10,000 square kilometres of Bangladesh’s total area is perennially covered with water, while the remainder is prone to annual floods during the monsoons.
The country is dependent on water resources, agriculture, fisheries and livestock, and the dangers and risks to these sectors are increasing due to the impacts of climate change.
Climate-related disasters such as severe cyclones and floods, untimely heavy rains, frequent monsoon and flash floods, urban floods and long-term waterlogging, extreme heatwaves, droughts, rising sea levels and salinity intrusion, sea surface warming and increased acidity have detrimental effects on people’s lives and socio-economic conditions as well as disrupting overall development and progress.
At the COP21 climate conference, the Paris Agreement called for each country at risk to adopt a National Adaptation Plan. The environment ministry initiated the formulation of the plan to contribute to global efforts for adaptation by taking risk and vulnerability into account. This plan will help to continue the trend of sustainable and climate-resilient development in Bangladesh by formulating and implementing medium and long-term adaptation strategies to mitigate the future risks of climate change.
The draft plan also states that the views and suggestions of all national and local stakeholders in the country have been prioritised to ensure a participatory process and to determine adaptation strategies to address the risks of climate change.
More than 35 consultative workshops, over 100 group discussions and personal interviews have been organised across the country involving thousands of people from various walks of life.
The adaptation plan identified 14 climate change-related disasters and 11 areas prone to climate disasters in Bangladesh.
Most of these areas are vulnerable to more than one climate change-induced disaster. The disasters are likely to become more severe and frequent in the future.
As a result, overall infrastructure, livelihoods and ecosystems will be disproportionately affected, and potentially about 20 million people can end up as climate refugees.