Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Climate vulnerable nations meet to raise climate refugees

SALEEM SAMAD

SEVERAL VULNERABLE countries including Bangladesh is set to seek collective global support for climate change adaptation at the upcoming Durban Climate Summit.

A group of 32 countries, which are most vulnerable to impacts of climate change, will meet on November 14 in Bangladesh capital Dhaka to forge a common agenda for Durban negotiations.

Foreign minister Dr. Dipu Moni and junior minister for Environment and Forests Dr. Hasan Mahmud jointly briefed journalists on Tuesday said, Bangladesh will raise its voice at the forthcoming Durban to recognize the people displaced due to climate change as ‘climate refugees’.

The ‘Climate Vulnerable Forum’ will raise collective concerns of the vulnerable countries at Durban for the release of green climate and fast-start funds for adaptation and technology transfer without any conditions for mitigation.

The forum was founded in the Maldives in 2009 with countries from Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.
Bangladesh as incoming chair is going to host its third ministerial meeting on November 14 preceded by a high officials' meeting the previous day in cooperation with the UNDP, Madrid-based non-governmental organization Dara and CDKN of London.

Although the Refugee Convention, 1950 does not recognize the climate change displaced people as climate refugees. If the summit recognizes them as climate refuges, we will be able to realize our many demands, he argued.

Migration of displaced persons and funds are the two priorities of the government to deal with the climate change disaster, said the junior minister.

The junior minister said the country’s people are more vulnerable than before due to river-bank erosion, deforestation, erratic rainfall and melting glacier caused by climate change.

Losing their arable land to salinity, he said people are moving away from the coastal region to higher grounds for their survival.

Mahmud said that the per capita emission of Bangladesh is much below the level of the developing world, and we should be compensated for that.

“We’re not responsible for climate change. We’re its innocent victims,” Dr. Mahmud said adding that the annual per capita carbon emission of Bangladesh is only 0.3 tonne against 20 tonnes by developed nations.

The host country hopes the United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon will attend the meet.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com