July 19, 2024, 3:34 am

Mustafa Kamal Akanda

2024-06-13 17:06:10 BdST

Speakers at Seminar on Climate Finance in National BudgetIndependent climate finance is inevitable for sustainable development

Several long-term plans have been formulated in Bangladesh to address the impacts of climate change, including the Centenary Delta Plan. However, the budget allocation required to implement the steps mentioned in the plans is not reflected in the annual budget.

The speakers said this in a seminar on self-reliant climate finance organised by EquityBD, AOSED, CLEAN, CSRL and COAST Foundation in Dhaka today, at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity.

Climate expert Dr Qazi Khalikuzzaman Ahmad presided over the seminar conducted by EquityBD’s Chief Moderator Mr. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury.

Coast Foundation’s climate project Head Mr. Abul Hasan presented the keynote.

Sharif Jamil of Water Keepers Bangladesh, Hasan Mehdi of CLEAN, Ziaul Haque Mukta of CSRL, AHM Bazlur Rahman of BNNRC, Aminur Rasul of Unnayan Dhara Trust, Pradip K Roy of ‍Online Knowledge Centre and others spoke as panel speakers.

Abul Hasan, project head of Coast Foundation, highlighted three demands for climate finance, (1) At least 03 percent of GDP should be allocated to climate finance in the national budget following policies and plans to reduce dependence on foreign loans to implement plans for the protection of vulnerable populations; (2) The implementation of the National Strategy Paper on Displacement Management should be added to the climate finance revenue framework and allocated on a priority basis; and (3) to ensure adequate allocation based on local needs separately from the traditional allocation for embankments construction for coastal protection.

Hasan Mehdi of Clean, an organisation in the Khulna region, said that according to the national five-year plan to deal with climate change, we should have at least 10% renewable energy system by 2025, while we have achieved only 3%. There is a big difference between planning and execution.

Mr. Sharif Jamil of Water Keepers Bangladesh said we have a budget allocation for many mega projects’ implementation. However, there is no budget allocation for assessing and correcting the environmental damage caused by those mega projects’ implementation. Due to the implementation of many development projects in Chittagong City, many canals have been damaged and are not able to carry the natural flow of water. Every year the city is submerged in monsoons.

CSRL's Ziaul Haque Mukta said that we have a national plan and sector-wise allocation to deal with the impact of climate change. But the biggest challenge is that we don't have any regional plan to face it locally. However, these impacts vary from region to region and, in many cases, cannot be addressed by national planning.

Dr. Kazi Khalikuzzaman Ahmad while giving the closing speech as the chair of the seminar said that we have many examples of good initiatives on climate change. For example, the National River Protection Commission conducted a raid and revealed the names of 50,000 river encroachers. But as the commission has no power, there is no instance of punishing or fining any of them.

Mr. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director of Coast Foundation, and moderator of the seminar, said that the embankments play important roles in protecting the people of the coastal area. However, local communities should be involved in the construction and maintenance of embankments. We have seen success in dam maintenance in this model in Bhola, Charfashion.

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