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Taking the lead on green growth

Suvojit Chattopadhyay's picture

Bangladesh has what it takes to influence this global movement

Manik, a solar pump operator for Nusra works near the solar panels in Rohertek, Bangladesh
Solar panels in Rohertek, Bangladesh, Oct 2016

Bangladesh has made remarkable progress over the past two decades, lifting millions out of poverty and sustaining expanding levels of economic growth.

It has achieved this in spite of major internal and external challenges — global economic downturns, natural disasters, and periods of political uncertainty that have tested the resolve of the Bangladesh economy.

In spite of this and efforts in climate change adaptation, Bangladesh still remains one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change according to the Global Climate Risk Index 2015.

This crisis has sparked an urgent response from the government. The government of Bangladesh is a leader amongst Less Developed Countries (LDCs) in enacting policies to tackle the risks emerging from climate change, as well as in negotiating on behalf of other vulnerable countries to finance both climate change adaptation and mitigation activities.

Bangladesh played a leading role in helping set up the global Green Climate Fund (GCF) with an ambitious agenda to mobilise $100 billion per year from rich countries by 2020 to finance climate change initiatives in developing countries.

Domestically, much more remains to be done towards climate change mitigation. There are multiple sector-specific and cross-cutting policies in place. However, a comprehensive set strategy in support of green growth is yet to be formulated.

The seventh Five Year Plan is the first policy that clearly mentions that there is potential for the development of a “green growth” strategy in Bangladesh in the coming years.

The civil society and the research community have sought to hold the government to account, demanding the rapid translation of plans into action on the ground.

Policy reform is imperative, but implementation is key. At the same time, the private sector has led the field in piloting innovative solutions, and their role in this entire process is critical. What is sometimes missing is a constructive dialogue between all stake-holders, recognising that we are all working towards a common outcome.

In order to capitalise on this opportunity though, Bangladesh needs to foster constructive dialogue and action on “green growth” and climate change. One such effort to foster dialogue is the UKAid-funded Economic Dialogue on Green Growth (EDGG).

EDGG is a research and advocacy program in Bangladesh funded by UKAid, and implemented by Adam Smith International.

EDGG brings together a wide range of stakeholders — government officials, regulators, private sector entrepreneurs, activists, media, and the research and academic community — to recognise the gaps in knowledge, and chart a joint agenda for the future. Research done as part of this program will directly respond to the priorities outlined by the government of Bangladesh, and will also draw out lessons from the experience of non-state actors.

Speaking at the fourth edition of the Gobeshona conference, Dr Saleemul Huq, director of ICCCAD, emphasised the need for Bangladesh to recognise the opportunities that this climate crisis brings in its wake.

The knowledge generated on tackling climate change, and the experiential learning that practitioners and researchers have gained over the years is a global public good, which needs to be exported far and wide. Policy-makers in rich countries, as well as those in poor vulnerable countries, have much to learn from Bangladesh.

As is being widely recognised now, there is, globally, a significant momentum in jointly tackling the adverse effects of climate change. The global response to the US government’s unilateral withdrawal from the Paris Accord is a testament to that fact.

Countries like France and China have already shown the will to take the lead. Bangladesh’s ability to influence this global movement will be strengthened considerably if it can implement and showcase a green growth strategy. Through fostering constructive dialogue, we will take a giant stride towards contributing to this global public good.

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This post first appeared in the Dhaka Tribune. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the World Bank Group.