SAARC action plan on climate change

Haroon Habib

DHAKA: Members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) have adopted a three-year action plan on climate change.

The plan was adopted at the SAARC ministerial meeting on climate change,which was held in Dhaka on July 1-2. The delegates released a declaration -Dhaka Declaration - on climate change. The draft declaration urged theinternational community for partnership development in this regard byproviding additional financial resources, as already agreed upon. Thedeclaration saw it as the moral obligation of the developed countries," saidRaja Devasish Roy, special assistant to Bangladesh's Environment Ministry,on Thursday.

SAARC members have committed themselves to promote programmes for advocacyand awareness of climate change and to inculcate habits towards a low-carbonsociety, including incorporation of science-based educational material ineducational curricula.

The action plan, covering 2009-2011, focuses on seven thematic areas - fromadaptation of climate change to regional stance for internationalnegotiations. It emphasises on policies and action for climate changemitigation, technology transfer, financing and investment mechanism,education, training and awareness, monitoring, assessment and management ofimpact and risks due to climate change.

Experts, who met on July 1 and 2, identified priority actions, includingclean development management, exchange of information on disasterpreparedness, exchange of meteorological data, monitoring climate changeimpact, supporting international negotiation process and sensitising themedia to the issue to implement the plan. The leaders are, however, yet toreach any consensus on mobilising fund for the implementation of such aplan. However, the meeting had suggested diverting funds from the SAARCDevelopment Fund, apart from seeking funds from donors such as the AsianDevelopment Bank.

Claiming the meeting successful, Raja Devasish said, the action plan willidentify and create opportunities through regional and south-southcooperation in terms of technology and knowledge transfer.

Dwelling on the issue of adverse effect on Bangladesh for sea-level rise,Atiq Rahman of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies said, 'We havetaken time to prepare ourselves, but we need to start acting now.

A recent report of the US space agency NASA predicted that a sea-level riseof about 25 metres, associated with global warming and melting polar icecaps, could see Bangladesh disappear under the waves by the end of thecentury.

Inaugurating the first-ever Saarc Ministerial meeting on climate change, thehead of Bangladesh's caretaker government, Fakhruddin Ahmed, stressed theneed for industrialised nations to provide climate adaptation funds fordeveloping countries, the worst victims of climate change, 'without anyconditions'. He also called on richer nations to transfer better technologyso that developing countries could progress toward climate resiliency.

Saarc Secretary-General Sheel Kant Sharma told the meeting, 'Saarc believesthat the way forward must include, among others, binding greenhouse gasemission reduction commitments by developed countries with effectivetimeframes.

Ministers of Environment and experts all the eight Saarc nations met inDhaka from July 1, 2008 to deliberate on measures that may be undertaken tominimise the adverse impacts of climate change. The ministerial meeting tookplace on the 3rd July .

Minister of State of India Namo Narain Meena, Minister of Sri Lanka PataliCham pika Ranawaka MP, deputy minister of Maldives Abdullahi Majeed, deputyminister of Bhutan Dasho Nado Rinchhen, Afghanistan Ambassador Abdul KarimNawabi, Bangladesh delegate Dr M Asaduzzaman, and Pakistan delegate JawedAli Khan made statements at the meeting saying climate change is a seriousthreat to the region in the form of more frequent floods, cyclones,droughts, sea-level rise, glacier melting, loss of agriculturalproductivity.

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