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PRESS RELEASE

Bangladesh and Maldives Respond to Climate Change Impacts

December 7, 2012

Two of the most vulnerable nations pave the way for climate compatible development through national programs and global climate finance

DOHA, December 7, 2012:  Two of the most vulnerable nations to climate change impacts, Bangladesh and Maldives, are becoming front runners in adaptation. At a high level event organized during the annual United Nations Climate Summit convened at Doha, the Ministers of Environment of the Governments of Bangladesh and Maldives discussed how their nations are prioritizing climate change issues as a key developmental challenge and embracing actions aimed at increasing climate resilience of people and infrastructure through strategic national investments and innovative national climate financing.

The high level event was organized to show-case the proactive responses of extremely vulnerable nations toward climate resilience as the nations are beginning to experience the early impacts of global climate change. The experiences and lessons shared by the top government officials at the event echoed the findings of the recent released World Bank Report “Turn Down The Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided that summarizes a range of climate consequences on development against a global path of emissions reductions that could lead to 4°C increasing in warning.

“Bangladesh is already a global hotspot for tropical cyclones and other climatic events and is highly vulnerable to increased intensity of storms and droughts that will result from climate change," said Dr. Hasan Mahmud, Honorable Minister, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of Bangladesh." Two thirds of the country is less than 5 m above sea level and vulnerable to coastal inundation and salinity intrusion, which we are already experiencing."

According to recent estimates, 14.6 million people in the coastal areas of Bangladesh are vulnerable to inundation due to increased cyclonic surges, and this number will increase to 18.5 million by 2050 under moderate climate change scenarios.  Over the last decades, the Bangladesh government has invested more than US$10bn to make the country less vulnerable to natural disasters. Measures as strengthening river embankments, building emergency cyclone shelters, and developing world class community based early warning system have significantly reduced the loss of life and livelihoods and property damages caused by extreme weather events.

To supplement its national programs, Bangladesh has successfully aligned its development partners to address the climate change challenge and established an innovative financing mechanism - the Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BBCRF).  So far, the BBCRF has channeled US$ 170 million in grant funds from seven development partners, namely Australia, Denmark, EU, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and the USA to strengthen the resilience to climate change. The Government of Bangladesh is in the driver’s seat and the authority of choosing projects to fund and implementing them. On an interim basis, the World Bank is playing the role of trustee – that is, conducting fiduciary transparency and accountability due diligence of the BCCRF.

The Government of Bangladesh has also created a separate “Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund” and allocated US$ 350 million from its own resources for the last four years consecutively – 2009 to 2012.  Bangladesh has been implementing 106 projects to address climate change including better adaptation and mitigation.

“We agreed for a second commitment period in Durban. But, there is a clear lack of ambitious emission reduction targets by parties under the second commitment period,” said Dr. Mariyam Shakeela, Honorable Minister of Environment and Energy, Government of Maldives. “What about those countries who have not committed to this second commitment period? Are we giving them a license to pollute till 2020 and at the expense of millions and millions of lives, until the new agreement comes!"

Maldives has a Strategic Plan of Action (2009-2013) also known as the National Framework for Development and National Adaptation Programme of Action (2006) that provides a solid policy foundation to environmental sustainability, climate change adaptation and low carbon development.

The European Union (EU) and Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) have contributed EUR 6.5 million and AUD 1.0 million to the multi-donor Maldives Climate Change Trust Fund (CCTF), which the World Bank will administer until March 31, 2015. The CCTF is implementing pilot projects to promote low carbon growth and build climate resilience in key sectors such as coastal protection, biodiversity conservation, water security and solid waste management.  

Maldives is also ready to launch the Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program (SREP), an initiative which promotes indigenous renewable energy sources and energy efficiency improvements, which will reduce Maldives’ dependence on fossil fuels and enhance energy security.   Cost of fossil fuel imports to the Maldives currently represent imports 20% of its GDP. Maldives is seeking USD 30 million SREP funding to design and implement projects to support the transformation of the energy sector by scaling up renewable energy resources and facilitating private sector participation in the sector through a combination of policy support, risk mitigation instruments and investments.

"Bangladesh and the Maldives are among the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Both have long recognized that they must take on climate change adaptation to meet their development objectives.” said Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, World Bank.  “Both countries, have tried a new innovative approach to climate finance: they have established a multi-donor trust fund to channel international climate finance to domestic priorities. Early indications are that this approach is a success."

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