Massive investment in renewable energy and green infrastructures is necessary to leave a greener world for future generations, said experts at a conference today.
"Bangladesh needs low interest loans to deal with climate change impacts. Otherwise it will be challenging for us to tackle the causes of climate change," said Sharifa Khan, secretary of the Economic Relations Division, at the "Conference on Sustainable Banking and Finance" organised by the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management in the capital.
She said the whole world is moving towards environment-friendly renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. However, there is not enough land to install solar panels for electricity in the country. Hydropower projects are also not feasible here. So, renewable energy sources suitable for Bangladesh should be identified and developed.
Sharifa Khan said, "We do not have the capacity to invest much in renewable energy and environment-friendly infrastructures. So, we need low-interest climate finance from UN member states and development partners to make sustainable investments.
"There was unprecedented flooding in Bandarban. Water bent the newly laid rail-line there. Sylhet region experienced five floods last year, which did not happen before. All these happened due to climate change. We need to move towards sustainable investments to get protection against climate change impacts. Investing should be done keeping the environment in order."
Former Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir said, "Sustainable economy is very important for a developing economy. Sustainable finance involves a variety of techniques, investments and practices aimed at economic development, the main purpose of which is to ensure natural and social protection.
"Owners of corporations should not run businesses just for making profit. They should also look at the environment."
Salimul Huq, director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development, said funding from the capital market should be increased for green financing. The banking sector should be dedicated for working capital only. The regulatory body has a large scope of work in this sector."
He also said environment-friendly sustainable investment cannot be ensured only by creating funds and policies. Programmes to raise environmental awareness and to train bank officials are also needed for this purpose. Besides, every bank should have a unit for green investment.
Speakers at the seminar said Bangladesh is the second largest recipient of international climate funds, but it lags far behind in terms of spending them. The central bank has been working for green banking since 2011. Apart from a fund, policies for financing are also formulated. However, awareness is needed among people to get the benefits of these initiatives.
They also said Bangladesh is the seventh among the countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts. An integrated plan has been taken to deal with this risk, which requires a huge amount of money to implement. So, banks and financial institutions should come forward in this regard. Every bank should have a separate unit to promote eco-friendly investment.
According to a World Bank report in 2022, if the protection measures cannot be strengthened, the country's agricultural sector's productivity will decrease by one third by 2050. At the same time, about 1.3 crore people will be affected by climate change. Besides, a significant number of small and medium entrepreneurs may lose businesses.