RECEIVING CHAMPIONS OF THE EARTH AWARD BY THE PRIME MINISTER
M A JABBAR
This is yet another happy news for us when we learn that Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been given the highest UN environment affairs award Champions of the Earth in recognition of the commendable steps taken by Bangladesh under her able leadership towards addressing the effects of climate change.
UN Environment Programme (UNEP) declared the name of Sheikh Hasina as the winner of the award titled Champions of the Earth in the Policy Leadership category for her correct leadership in addressing the effects of climate change. It is learnt that in the current year in other categories the award has been received by other individuals and institutions namely National Geographic Society, Brazilian Cosmetic Farm Natura and Black Mamba Anti-poaching unit of the South Africa. The awards will be handed over to the winners on 27 September in a colourful ceremony in the Sustainable Development Goals summit to be held in New York.
It may be mentioned that this annual recognition of the Champions of the Earth by UN environment affairs is given to four categories which include policy leadership, science, business and civil society. So far 67 individuals and instituions received the award. While selecting for the award, UNEP said that Bangladesh is a country of 16 crore people with high density of the population. Due to climate change, no doubt, the country is ranking in the top risk-based countries of the world. The country is beset with cyclone, flood, drought and other natural calamities and such calamities are seen as increasing. Yet, the award is the recognition of its government’s untiring efforts to address these problems.
It may be mentioned that despite more than 18 years of negotiations, a legally binding document on global warming is yet to be materialized. As such, countries suffering most formed CVF (Climate Vulnerability Forum) before Copenhagen COP 15 in 2009. CVF is an advocacy group and a communication platform for monitoring, documenting data and research for communicating new evidence of the adverse impacts of climate change.
As mentioned above, Bangladesh experiences disasters like tropical cyclones, storm surges, coastal erosion, floods, and droughts causing heavy loss of life and property thus jeopardizing the development activities. We have also problems like sanitation, high traffic-jam, shortage of land for accommodation. The global warming due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the earth’s atmosphere and the consequent sea level rise is a matter of grave concern for us. Nevertheless, the Government of Bagnladesh is working hard to address these problems.
We witnessed that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina articulated with great effectiveness the issues of climate change during the launch of the 2012 climate vulnerability monitor of Asia Society New York on September 26, 2012. In her speech she said that the impact of climate change on the developing countries like Bangladesh is compounded by high population density, low resource base, high incidence of natural disasters, salinity intrusion and submergence of land due to sea level rise. Even a meter rise of sea level due to global warming is likely to inundate a fifth of Bangladesh, displacing nearly thirty million people and leading to mass movement of people.
According to UNEP Bangladesh could prove that investment in addressing climate change is conducive to social and economic development. Bangladesh has taken climate change as its national issue and it has been able to attract the attention of the world in this regard. They said the recognition is the reflection of Bangladesh’s able and appreciable leadership in addressing the climate change to bring about radical change in the standard of lives of the people.
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said that Bangladesh has adopted several innovative steps congenial to address the climate change and such steps are in line with the theme, policy and strategies of the United Nations. The executive director said that Bangladesh is ready to further address the effects of climate change and its steps for environment preservation will help address the climate change effects and environmental calamities and such steps will contribute significantly towards the welfare of the present and future generations.
Bangladesh as the first country has formed a climate change trust Fund. During the period from 2009 to 2012 a sum of 30 crore US dollar was given to this fund. Beside this, water land, haor, and wild animal preservation has been given priority in the constitution which will contribute significantly towards favourable climate which are in line with the policy and strategy of the UNEP.
Moreover forest land has expanded upto 10 per cent which is very important towards addressing the climate change. It may be mentioned that as per the latest report of the UN, Bangladesh has shown success in the United Nations MDGs (Millenium Development Goals). It has achieved targets in poverty alleviation, expansion of rate of literacy in universal primary education, decrease of infant mortality, improvement in the rate and development of maternal health services, etc. Let this award act as an inspiring force for all of us to worek for a happy and prosperous Bangladesh.
The writer writes on health and environment issues and is executive secretary of ADHUNIK, the national anti-tobacco organization of Bangladesh
SEPTEMBER 22, 2015