Message from High Commissioner Lieutenant General Masud Uddin Chowdhury
June 5th is the World Environment Day, when hundreds of thousands of people from countries all over the world celebrate the importance of our environment for life on earth. Through decades, this annual event is celebrated in many ways in many countries but with the same objective of enhancing political attention and action towards improving the environment.
On this World Environment Day, I would like to remind the international community that Bangladesh is among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Climate change is the reality for Bangladesh and it is happening there. Climate change will exacerbate many of the current problems and natural hazards the country faces. Floods, tropical cyclones, storm surges and droughts are likely to become more frequent and severe in the coming years. Moreover, it is predicted that sea level rises will lead to submergence of low-lying coastal areas and saline water intrusion up coastal rivers and into groundwater aquifers, reducing freshwater availability; damage to the Sundarbans mangrove forest, a World Heritage site with rich biodiversity; and drainage congestion inside coastal polders, which will adversely affect agriculture; and displacement of large number of populations permanently.
In spite of having limited resources, the Government of Bangladesh is committed to increase the country's resilience to climate change; reduce the risks climate change poses to national development; and rapidly develops the country, following a low-carbon growth path. To do this we have already made climate change an integral part of our national development strategy and have started to build the country's capacity (communities, civil society, the private sector and Government) so that we are able to tackle the impacts of climate change, in a routine way, as part of the development process. Our strategy prioritises adaptation, but also focuses on low carbon development, mitigation, technology transfer and the provision of adequate finance.
We must keep this in mind that it is an immense challenge for the government like ours to tackle environment disasters due to climate change unilaterally. Here we need the cooperation of international community and various non-government entities. I am pleased to know that Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN), Australia has been working relentlessly throughout the year by taking various activities which include seminars, street rallies and parades, as well as tree planting, and clean-up campaigns to stimulate awareness of the environment and enhance political attention and public action. Their efforts are indeed commendable and I hope they will continue their endeavours in the years to come.
I would like to call on the international community on this auspicious day to support our efforts to adapt to climate change and to ensure sustainable development. Commitments such as those made under the Copenhagen Accord are welcome but they must be delivered quickly and decisively. At all levels there is a need for urgent action. On this World Environment Day, I call upon all stakeholders to catalyse action to better protect and manage our environments for us and for future generations.
Masud Uddin Chowdhury
High Commissioner for Bangladesh to Australia
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