Climate change conference opens in Bangladesh

climate-changeClimate change experts today began a four-day conference in the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka, also known as the “adaptation capital of the world” because it is seen as the country that has done most to adapt to the effects of climate change.

The 7th International Conference on Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change is being managed by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS).

Although Bangladesh may be among the countries most vulnerable to climate change it is also the country that has put in so much effort to adapt to the impacts ahead, according to the organisers of the international conference that takes place there this week.

According to a press release issued by the IIED, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, was expected to open the conference, while former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, is billed to give the keynote speech in the closing session.

Speaking to Bangladesh’s status as a country most affected by climate change, Dr. Saleemul Huq, senior fellow at IIED, said: “The story of Bangladesh being vulnerable to climate change is yesterday’s story. Today’s story is about Bangladesh being one of the most adaptive countries. I would call it the adaptation capital of the world. Other so-called developing countries too have lessons that even the world’s richest countries can learn about how to adapt to climate change.”

Commenting on how countries are adapting to climate change, Dr. Atiq Rahman, executive director of BCAS opined: “Adaptation at the community level is particularly significant. This is because it puts communities in control. They decide. They act. Around the world, poor communities are getting organised and taking control of their responses to climate change. The story today is of poorer countries and communities that are leaders, not victims. The rich have much to learn from them.”

Bangladesh has emerged as a global leader in adaptation to climate change, in part through strong collaborations between government and civil society. Unlike in other countries, in Bangladesh all relevant stakeholders, from the government to NGOs, are not only well aware of climate change but are actively involved in tackling the problem.

Meanwhile organisers say conference delegates and online participants who will follow the conference over the internet  will learn about ways that people around the world are adapting to climate change in both rural and urban settings, and how governments can embed adaptation in all policy arenas.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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