Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today inaugurated the South Asian Regional Office of Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) in Bangladesh, urging all countries concerned to increase their "determined contributions" to combat the climate change menace and execute the 2015 Paris Agreement.
"As the climate change is a global affair, I would like to call upon the countries to enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions by December 31st this year in tackling the menace as well as implement the 2015 Paris Agreement," she said.
The prime minister along with GCA Chair and former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon jointly formally opened the GCA regional office in Bangladesh virtually.
The opening of the regional adaptation centre in Dhaka has been dedicated to the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The premier expressed the hope that this office will serve as a 'Centre of Excellence' and a solution-broker for climate adaptation measures in this region.
"I hope this regional office will share the best adaptation practices of Bangladesh as well as other countries and exchange practices within the region. It will serve as a Centre of Excellence and a solution-broker for adaptation measures in the region," she said.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the GCA Chair joined the virtual function, while Chief Executive Officer of GCA in Rotterdam Prof Dr Patrick V. Verkooijen delivered the welcome speech.
Bangladesh Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Shahab Uddin, as well as ministers concerned of South Asian countries including India, Pakistan, Nepal, the Maldives, Bhutan, spoke at the inaugural function.
Sheikh Hasina also expected that GCA Dhaka office would support us during the Chairmanship of Bangladesh to Climate Vulnerable Forum and Vulnerable-20, two climate-based important international bodies under the UNFCCC process – during the next two years.
The premier simultaneously urged the GCA to explore the opportunity of supporting the Delta Coalition on a long-term basis.
Sheikh Hasina also called for greater cooperation and collaboration among the nations to fight the coronavirus impacts.
"The Covid-19 pandemic fallout calls for greater cooperation and collaboration among the nations. We should not leave each other rather forge unity to fight the current crisis or any such one in the future," she said.
She said South Asia is the most vulnerable region to climate-induced natural disasters like cyclone, flood, tidal surge, drought, Glacial Lake Outburst Flood, landslides, and avalanches. Even a 1.5 degree Celsius rise of temperature will have severe consequences for Bangladesh and the region.
"We also must not forget the vulnerability of the children, women, elderly people and people with special needs against disasters," she added.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh remains committed to implementing the Paris Agreement and adopting all the measures to prevent rise of temperature from the emission of GreenHouse Gases and other environmental degradations.
The premier said her government has undertaken various mitigation and adaptation programmes under Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan formulated in 2009 to offset climate change impacts.
"We have established Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund in 2009, and so far allocated 430 million US dollars from our own resources to implement the action plan," she added.
Sheikh Hasina said her government has also been spending about 1 percent of GDP equivalent to US$ 2 billion per year since 2010 for adaptation purposes.
She said the government has formulated a 100-year plan called 'Bangladesh Delta Plan-2100' as a long-term plan to face the challenges of climate change and natural disasters.
The prime minister said in the past decade alone, nearly 700 million people, half of the region's population, have been affected by climate-related disasters.
"Before people can recover from one disaster caused by natural hazards, another one strikes, reversing any progress made. To end this cycle, South Asia needs to build greater resilience," she went on.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is a unique example of climate vulnerability and resilience and the people here have time and again shown their resilience against natural or man-made disasters. "Yet, there remain a lot of things to be changed," she said.
The prime minister said she thinks other countries in the region also have similar experiences and some good practices on adaptive measures. "I believe, together we can safeguard and build a better future for all of us," she said.
Sheikh Hasina extended her sincere thanks to all concerned including GCA Chair Ban Ki-moon, Dutch Premier Mark Rutte and GCA Chief Executive Officer Prof Dr Patrick V. Verkooijen for organising and joining the wonderful event.
"We'll fight together and work together (on climate change adaptation) and we'll achieve together our this goal," she said.
Ban Ki-moon in his speech highly praised Bangladesh for combatting successfully the climate change effects and natural disasters.
"People around the globe know well that Bangladesh is the best example of successful case to tackle climate change and natural calamities and that's why we've decided to set up GCA regional office in Dhaka," he said.
The Dutch premier in his speech congratulated Bangladesh on being selected for the establishment of GCA regional office, the first in South Asia. "It's clear sign of Bangladesh's leadership on climate change adaptation," he said.
The GCA regional center is housed at the new building of the Department of Environment at Agargaon in Dhaka.
GCA Bangladesh will have both international and locally-recruited staff with some seconded officers from the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change.
It is expected that the headquarters of the Global Center on Adaptation in Rotterdam will support GCA Bangladesh through a matrix structure, acting also as the Secretariat of CVF and V20, two climate-based important international organizations under the chairmanship of Bangladesh.
In addition, the GCA will serve as a Secretariat of Delta Coalition to contribute to important works related to the blue economy.
GCA Bangladesh will also support Bangladesh in preparing and contributing to the Climate Adaptation Summit on January 22, 2021, and COP26 in November 2021.
GCA Bangladesh will facilitate and develop on-the-ground action in South Asia to accelerate adaptation and address climate change vulnerabilities across the entire region.