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Bangladeshi climate champion recalled in COP28

Published : 01 Dec 2023 03:47 PM

If all goes according to plan, the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will end with an agreement on the implementation of the ‘Loss and Damage Fund (LDF)’.

The two-week long 28th annual session began in Dubai of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday where world leaders recalled late Bangladesh national Professor Dr. Saleemul Huq, a leading global figure in climate change research and policy. 

He was an expert on the links between climate change and sustainable development, particularly from the perspective of vulnerable developing countries. 

At the COP28, members of the LDC Group (Least Developed Countries’ group in the UN) and the climate change community joined a special memorial event for Dr. Saleemul Huq, whose contributions led to the establishment of the LDC Group. 

Opening remarks by the LDC Chair was followed by a moment of silence in the memory and honour of the pre-eminent climate scientist and champion for developing countries. 

This memorial event offers an opportunity to honour remarkable legacy of Dr. Saleemul Huq. 

Born on October 2 in 1952, Professor Dr. Saleemul Huq passed away in Dhaka on October 29 at the age of 71. He was the Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and chair of the Expert Advisory Group for the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF).

He had worked a lot to introduce the Loss and Damage Fund. The fund was established at COP27 in Egypt and it is going to be operationalised after the ongoing COP28. The draft decision for the ‘Loss and Damage Fund’ has already been adopted by the CMA (Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement) at COP28 in the opening session on November 30. 

Professor Dr. Saleemul Huq was a lone warrior who had been trying to bring the issues of adaptation and loss and damage to the UN negotiating table. The agreement on loss and damage at CAP27 was his biggest triumph.

His death prompted an outpouring of emotion across the climate world. Against this backdrop, the Dubai summit recalled him.

Saleemul Huq was a key member of the COP28 Advisory Committee, and after his death just days before beginning of the Dubai climate conference, the COP28 issued a statement that ‘the world has lost a visionary whose climate action legacy will guide and inspire generations to come’.

Dr. Saleemul Huq was an environmental and climate change giant and senior fellow of IIED (International Institute for Environment and Development). 

He was conferred the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the UK government for his worldwide efforts to combat climate change.

He was the lead author of chapters in the third, fourth and fifth assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. His work with the IPCC spanned 1997 to 2014 and he contributed to reports that led to the panel being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

Dr. Saleemul Huq published hundreds of scientific as well as popular articles and was named by Nature in 2022 as one of its top 10 scientists. 

He set up the climate change research group at IIED in 2000 and was its initial director.

Dr Saleemul Huq received the Burtoni Award in 2006, and the National Environment Award in Bangladesh in 2020. 

This year, he was appointed an advisor to the Scientific Advisory Board for Independent Advice on Breakthroughs in Science and Technology by the United Nations.