Bangladesh is universally acknowledged as one of the world's most vulnerable countries to climate change. It has been recently been ranked as 6th out of 182 countries most affected by extreme weather events over the last two decades, according to the NGO, Germanwatch.
Managing climate change and disaster risk reduction are two sides of the same coin for the country, which is home to the largest Delta in the world. The World Bank estimates that 60 percent of deaths due to cyclones in the last two decades have occurred in Bangladesh.
Annually, 18 percent of Bangladesh is affected by flooding. With climate change, these are projected to become more frequent and intense. The human costs of flooding in Bangladesh are profound. Drowning is already the 3rd leading cause of death in the country. Tragically, it is the number one cause of death among young children in Bangladesh.
At a recent meeting in London, the Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, spoke of Bangladesh's resolve to take more action on the combined challenges of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.
These issues formed the backdrop to a stimulating dialogue today between GLOBE International CEO, Malini Mehra, and the Hon. Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Speaker of the Bangladesh Parliament, at her office in Bangladesh's Jatiyo Sangshad (national parliament). Until recently, Dr Chaudhury had also served as the President of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).
The Parliament of Bangladesh is a unicameral legislature consisting of 350 members, with 50 seats reserved for women members. Although Parliament is presently not in session, with most members active in their constituencies until the Budget Session starts at the end of May, the GLOBE interaction was able to take place due to the leadership of GLOBE Member, the Hon. Iqbalur Rahim MP, Whip, Bangladesh Parliament. The meeting with the Hon. Speaker Dr Chaudhury also included the Hon. Mahabub Ara Begum Gini, MP, also a Parliamentary Whip.
During the meeting, Ms Mehra was able to brief Dr. Chaudhury on activities within the GLOBE International network, including the recent launch of a joint guidebook with UNEP on environmental law for sustainable development for legislators.
Given the portfolios held by the Hon. Speaker and the Hon. Begum Gini, the gender dimensions of climate change and development in the Bangladesh context, were a key subject of discussion as were actions taken at the national level to address these issues.
The dialogue also explored potential priority areas for international engagement by GLOBE Members in the Bangladesh Parliament, and the upcoming national elections in December which would be a key preoccupation domestically from October onwards. A formal GLOBE Bangladesh chapter could be formed following the outcome of the elections in 2019.
The Dialogue was an excellent opportunity to renew contact with GLOBE Bangladesh members, understand current national priorities and support international parliamentary engagement through the GLOBE International network.