Bangladesh is one of the regions most vulnerable to ecological threats, a report revealed last Thursday.
The country, threatened above all by natural disasters, ranked 163rd among 178 countries in the second Ecological Threat Report (ETR) prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), an Australia-based think-tank.
The report said Bangladesh, which has a long history of natural disasters, ranks among the ten countries most exposed to catastrophic ecological threats. The 2007 Cyclone Sidr is estimated to have caused over 3,000 deaths.
"Bangladesh is ranked as the seventh worst country affected by extreme weather events by the Global Climate Risk Index, indicating it is especially vulnerable to climate change," said the ETR.
The IEP prepared the report by analysing food risk, water risk, rapid population growth, temperature anomalies and natural disasters.
Bangladesh received the highest index score on three domains: water, food and natural disaster risk, where higher scores represent a higher threat level.
The report comes ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) scheduled from 31 October to 12 November, 2021 in Glasgow.
The study showed that a cyclic relationship exists between ecological degradation and conflict. It is a vicious cycle whereby degradation of resources leads to conflict, and the ensuing conflict leads to further resource degradation.
Ecological threats will lead to widespread conflict and mass migration unless significant efforts are made to limit the damage, said the report.
South Asia faces maximum threat
South Asia is the worst placed region with water and food risk driving the average score in the region with approximately 850 million people, or 44% of the population, suffering from moderate to severe food insecurity, said the report.
The region is also prone to natural disasters, which exacerbates other ecological threats, particularly resource scarcity.
Countries in South Asia face annual flooding that results in substantial loss of human life, agricultural production and private property damage.
Afghanistan has the highest overall score in the report and ranked lowest 178th, which reflects the country's vulnerability, which could be exacerbated by climate change.
Almost two-third of Afghanistan's population faced food insecurity in 2020. This situation may worsen following the Taliban's return to power in 2021, said the report.
Bhutan is the better position among the South Asian peer countries, ranked 81th, followed by Sri Lanka (114th), India (144th).
Pakistan is listed among the bottom ten countries by all domains and ranked 170th out of 178.
Rapid population growth and unplanned urbanisation, coupled with environmental degradation and climate change, have increased the exposure and risk of natural hazards. This will result in more frequent, intense, and costly disasters.
The IEP estimates that by 2050, 4.7 billion people will reside in countries with high and extreme ecological threats, representing 48.7% of the world's total population.
Around 1.26 billion people across 30 countries are suffering from both extreme ecological risk and low levels of resilience, according to the report.
The IEP also estimates that almost half (48.7%) of the world's population (4.7 billion) will reside in countries with high and extreme ecological threats by 2050.
More than a quarter of the population lives in low-lying areas heavily impacted by sea-level rise and saltwater incursion.