Friday, March 28, 2008

Bangladesh: Climate change battle limps for lack of funds

The Daily Star (Dhaka): Despite being at the forefront of countries affected by climate change, Bangladesh has received only $10 million in foreign aid over the past decade, even as recent donor estimates put future climate change adaptation bill for the country around $4 billion.

Meanwhile, a climate change research centre and a government climate change data centre are in the pipeline to allow Bangladesh to use better models and data for mainstreaming climate change adaptation into government projects and to attract funds for long term adaptation plans.

Although some NGO officials claim that climate change specific funding might have been much lower than $10 million in the last decade, government records obtained by The Daily Star show that climate change adaptation fund to Bangladesh has been between $9 million to $10 million since 1996. Experts say that Bangladesh has failed to attract funds largely due to its failure to absorb and implement the funds, and for a lack of accountability.

But a donor country official, working with the research centre proposals, told The Daily Star that Bangladesh has also failed to 'voice enough concerns at the global level, and have not managed knowledge about climate change well enough to make the country's case overseas'. "The country has been unable to tap into massive global climate change funds because of a lack of data about the country," the official said.

Official records show only one out of the fifteen planned projects under the National Adaptation Programme of Action (Napa) received funds, while none of the projects under Global Environment Facility (GEF) has yet been implemented. One GEF project, on forestation, has already been withdrawn, according to sources….

A donor country official, working with climate change, said future project funding should also come in forms of grants rather than loans to reduce the burden of repayment.

In 2006, 32 donor countries pledged $3.13 billion to fund projects between 2006 and 2010. GEF allocates and disburses about $250 million dollars a year to projects for developing energy efficiency, renewable energies, and sustainable transportation, as the financial mechanism of the Climate Convention. Bangladesh could also take advantage of two special funds under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) --- the Least Developed Countries Fund, and the Special Climate Change Fund.

Meanwhile, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) signed a memorandum of understanding with International University Bangladesh (IUB) to set up a global research institute here….

Bangladesh map from the CIA's World Factbook, Wikimedia Commons

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