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Climate change poses existential crisis: Saber

Staff Correspondent
24 Jan 2024 20:36:55 | Update: 24 Jan 2024 20:39:06
Climate change poses existential crisis: Saber
Environment Minister Saber Hossain Chowdhury addresses the inauguration event of the 9th International Water Conference on Wednesday - Courtesy Photo

Climate change poses an existential threat, particularly impacting water – a vital element for humankind and all ecosystems, said Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Saber Hossain Chowdhury on Wednesday.

“Addressing this crisis demands innovative solutions, implemented faster than the problem itself. We cannot keep contributing to this crisis without effective solutions,” the minister said while delivering his speech as chief guest at the inauguration of the 9th International Water Conference, organised by ActionAid Bangladesh.

“Water is central to sustainability. We must use it wisely to ensure availability for future generations. This is a global responsibility, transcending national boundaries.”

The minister highlighted the government's commitment to tackling climate change, citing an extensive program within the new cabinet's first 100 days' plan.

He underscored the importance of collaboration, advocating for a multi-stakeholder platform involving government, scientists, NGOs, and the private sector to find holistic solutions.

The two-day conference, themed “Water, River and Climate Change: Creating Space for Resilience,” brings together experts and stakeholders to discuss critical water-related challenges in the context of a changing climate.

Acting High Commissioner of Australia to Bangladesh Nardia Simpson acknowledged the global nature of the crisis.

“The role of diplomats and policymakers goes beyond ensuring climate justice,” she said. “Climate change is a global challenge. We are aware of rising temperatures and disasters. We are working with the government in the agricultural sector and with different NGOs to improve water governance in Bangladesh. We urge emerging leaders to come forward to battle with the climate crisis.”

Country Director of ActionAid Bangladesh, Farah Kabir praised Bangladesh's efforts despite facing high climate vulnerability.

“Bangladesh is doing a lot to tackle the issue,” she said. “Now, it is crucial to build a platform that brings different people together, sparks new ideas, and focuses on what the community can do.”

“It is just as important to get women and young people involved in managing our water and rivers. Furthermore, we need to teach and guide these groups, to help a new generation of motivated and knowledgeable climate activists,” she further added.

ActionAid International Bangladesh Society Chairperson Ibrahim Khalil Al-Zayad said, “We have over 800 rivers crisscrossing from the north to the south and throughout the country. But we see a problem where people are dispersed from this land because of climate change.

“We see the rising high tides, erratic rainfall patterns and parched lands where communities are struggling. But we also see the spirit of humankind, their resilience and that is what we are here for.”

Imtiaz Ahmed, professor of the Department of International Relations at the University of Dhaka, stated in his keynote presentation, “Geopolitics plays a major role in climate change. The planet-warming emissions generated during the first two months of the war in Gaza were higher than the annual carbon footprint of more than 20 of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations. Climate futures need to be mainstreamed into every area, politically, economically, educationally, psychologically, and culturally.”

Renowned economist Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said, “We cannot waste or pollute water as our population is rising and the water level is declining at the same time. When it comes to Bangladesh, we are at the bottom of 3 major river systems and we have no control over water, particularly during dry season.

“On top of it, 92 per cent of water flowing through Bangladesh comes from outside. So that is how vulnerable we are. Our coastal belts are very low as well. All these create huge challenges for the country to tackle the climate crisis.”