WHY HASINA IS CHAMPION OF THE EARTH
The Champions of the Earth award, the highest environmental honour that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has received from the United Nations Enviromment Programme, is a tribute to her bold leadership that has brought Bangladesh, one of the world’s most vulnerable nations to climate change impact, in the limelight of global efforts at reducing carbon emission and keep global warming under check.
In announcing the award in the Policy Leadership category the Unep has appreciated the steps Hasina’s government has taken and implemented making a far reaching impact on this delta nation that is regularly buffeted by floods, cyclones and drought. In a happy coincidence Hasina received the award on Monday (Sept 28), the day she turned 69 with her family and millions of her supporters at home and abroad celebrating the birthday. In a fitting tribute to the leader of Bangladesh Unep Executive Director Achim Steiner described Hasina as an “inspirational leader since she showed the necessity to work for environmental protection and climate change.”
Steiner has not overstated Hasina’s contribution. She has demonstrated courage both at home and abroad in putting the climate change issue and the need for global action to check further deterioration in carbon emission and global warming.
She has been a pro-active leader and a dynamic change maker as she participated in the international conferences and negotiations to try to bring the big carbon-emission nations to admit that they are the culprits and hence it is their responsibility pay for fixing the damage suffered by the Earth because of their activity. When the rich nations have failed to reach an agreement on climate change issues the leader of Bangladesh has shown them the way not my just talking but by taking actions.
It is at the directive of Hasina Bangladesh, one of the world’s least developed nation, has taken a bold move in launching a US$30 million climate change fund entirely depending on the domestic resources. This way, Bangladesh has shown the world that it is of no use to wait for the rich nations to take action before launching the mission to adapt to the climate change impact, one of which can be displacement of millions of Bangladeshis, especially those living along the coast.
There have been allegations of irregularities in the distribution and use of climate change fund money. But those allegations have been investigated and in many cases found to be overstated. In cases where the allegations have been found to be true the government has taken tough actions. It is because Hasina is serious in upholding her image as a clean leadership who believes in an open government that works transparently. Not that her government is fully clean, her personal honesty and integrity have hardly been questioned. Yet, Hasina can’t afford to be too relaxed about corruption, an issue that still tarnishes the image of Bangladesh internationally. The country’s poor image in regards to corruption and good governance is still, despite many achievements of the government, a big hurdle against the inflow of direct foreign investment, which is badly needed to cross the 6 per cent GDP growth barrier.
Nonetheless, international awards to our government leaders matter much in boosting the nation’s image abroad. Encouraged by Bangladesh’s success in adapting to the climate change impact, Germany and France have promised to remain by the side our environmentally-vulnerable nation and work together from the world’s first joint Franco-German Embassy that is being built in Dhaka.
In their recent joint visit to Dhaka the foreign ministers of France and Germany have promised to work with Bangladesh in tackling the climate change challenges. The Franco-German response to Hasina’s successful initiatives is seen as just the beginning of greater international involvement with Bangladesh in reducing its climate change risks and helping its people to better adapt to the adverse conditions.
In winning the UN environment award Hasina has won the hearts of some foreign powers which matter in the fight against climate change, carbon emission and global warming.
OCTOBER 01, 2015