The first-ever knowledge forum on the Meghna river basin, shared by Bangladesh and India, concluded on Thursday.
More than 100 participants from across the Meghna basin joined the forum, said a press release.
The three-day forum laid the foundation of a multi-stakeholder knowledge exchange platform for the inclusive management of the Meghna river basin.
Designed as a virtual event, the forum's objective was to facilitate partnerships among different stakeholders and sectors to address knowledge gaps in the implementation of an Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) in the Meghna river basin.
Highlighting the significance of the Barak-Meghna river system, Indian MP Dr Rajdeep Roy of Shilchar, Assam said, "Barak river is rich in biodiversity and more than 100 species of fish, including the Ganges Dolphin, listed as endangered species have been recorded from Barak river in India."
The forum included 10 different thematic sessions and more than 40 speakers from diverse sectors, including from the Garo and Kashi indigenous communities. The speakers shared their perspectives on the wide range of issues linked to culture, water governance, climate change and inland navigation.
"There are more than 276 shared river basins across the world, Meghna basin is one of them," said Saber Hossain Chowdhury MP who is also the chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee in Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
"Through MKF 2021, we hope to move from a situation of conflict to cooperation, as the forum dialogue is linked to creation and enhancement of the benefits from the Meghna basin through transboundary cooperation," he added.
The forum also highlighted the need to strengthen the governance of the basin, and make it more inclusive and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the indigenous community. It also showcased examples of community-led nature-based solutions supported by governments, that needs to be documented, upscaled and replicated across the basin.
The Guest of Honor for the forum's valedictory session, Planning Minister MA Mannan said "there is no alternative to cooperation and by working together, Bangladesh and India can make the Meghna river basin, one of the most vibrant regions of South Asia."
The forum was convened by IUCN in partnership with more than 15 different organisations, from Bangladesh and India, and included high-level participation from the two governments.
The forum was organised under the global flagship programme of IUCN, Building River Dialogue and Governance (BRIDGE) in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river basins. The BRIDGE programme is implemented by IUCN in more than 15 different shared river basins across the world. The programme applies Hydrodiplomacy and Technical cooperation as the entry points to build consensus and common vision for the integrated management of the basin directly contributing to the SDG 6, target 6.5 (IWRM in shared river basins).