Bangladesh starts its journey towards climate resilience

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By Dr. Saleemul Huq

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The fourth and final day [of the fifth annual Gobeshona Conference] consisted of a science-policy-dialogue with senior policymakers with whom the scientists shared some of the latest research findings and also received advice on what kinds of research would help the decision-makers in future. The annual Gobeshona Conference has thus become a major means of assessing the state of our scientific knowledge as well as setting future research agendas.

The first major cross-cutting issue was to emphasise the need to invest in our youth in order to make them not just ready for employment but to turn them into problem solvers. We had a group of university students selected from universities in Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan participating in the conference who then stayed an extra day to develop their own work plan going forward. This work plan goes well beyond simply raising awareness about the climate change problems and focuses on how to solve some aspects of the problem by each of the youth in their own respective settings. This network of university students will be both Bangladesh-wide as well as students in universities which are part of the Least Developed Countries Universities Consortium on Climate Change (LUCCC).

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The second major cross-cutting theme was on gender but went well beyond simply focusing on the vulnerability of women and girls to the adverse impacts of climate change. Here the emphasis will be on the empowerment of women to become agents of change in tackling and solving climate change impacts in different settings. This also related to the first point of empowerment of youth but with an emphasis on girls over boys.

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The third major cross-cutting issue that came up time and again in different thematic sessions, including urban, coastal and migration sessions, was the need to anticipate and ensure that future migration due to climate change is done in a planned and enabled manner and not under distressed conditions. The challenge here is to make the current problem of environmental migration due to distress conditions into a possible adaptation to future climate change by investing in education and empowering the youth, primarily girls, in the low-lying coastal parts of the country and at the same time investing in setting up climate-resilient migrant-friendly cities and towns around the country so that the future climate migrants don’t all end up in Dhaka.

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