Covid-19 shows silver linings on climate change

PM Sheikh Hasina says at virtual UNESCAP meet

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that the Covid-19 pandemic is showing “some silver linings” on the change of global efforts to deal with the climate change and growing competition for natural resources, despite its unprecedented devastation on people.

“The world is facing unprecedented challenges of the century due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Along with the health issues this virus has severely affected our economy,” she said at the virtual meet of the UNESCAP on Thursday.

“However, the pandemic is also showing some silver linings on the change of global efforts to deal with the climate change and growing competition for natural resources. We need to tackle this pandemic together”.

For the first time in the history, the 76thCommission Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) was held on virtual platform on Thursday amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bangladesh Ambassador to Thailand and Permanent Representative to the ESCAP Md. Nazmul Quaunine was elected as the chair of the 76th Commission of UNESCAP. Thailand was elected as the Vice-Chair, the foreign ministry said.

The theme of the 76th Commission’s session is "Promoting economic, social and environmental cooperation on oceans for sustainable development”.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was scheduled to attend the meeting in Bangkok and deliver keynote speech; however, as the Session is taking place virtually, she delivered her message through video message, the foreign ministry said.

In her message, Prime Minister stressed on regional cooperation for capacity building of developing countries for sustainable use of marine resources.

She placed three fundamental ocean issues with a view to strengthening economic cooperation among member countries of the UNESCAP.

These are: Firstly, enhanced support for capacity building through sharing of knowledge, expertise and transfer of technology from advanced countries on Blue Economy;

Secondly, Need joint research on fisheries development with a view to increasing regional fish production and establishing common platform network in deterring, combating and eliminating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing.

Lastly, Initiate mapping and management of resource identification and critical coastal habitat and biodiversity protection.
“The oceans and seas constitute a last resource frontier of the world contributing to our sustenance, help alleviate poverty and offer employment opportunities,” she said.

She said her government has given “utmost importance on promoting the growth of blue economy as part of our long-term national development strategy”.

Sheikh Hasina said that Bangladesh has been implementing conservation programmes and using of sustainable and eco-friendly technologies, and a host of other measures to protect freshwater and marine resources.

Ambassador Quaunine upon his election as the Chair expressed sincere thanks to the 53 member countries of the ESCAP for reposing their confidence in Bangladesh in electing him as the Chair.

He underscored the commitment of Bangladesh under the dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister to the regional and multilateral engagements and cooperation and Bangladesh’s very active participation in and contribution to the works of the UNESCAP.

Besides the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha, Fiji Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama and Tuvalu Prime Minister Kausea Natano also sent their video messages in the opening Session.

In the session, the Asia Pacific nations have agreed to cooperate in addressing the socio-economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemics and adopted a resolution.

Video message of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and chairing the Commission’ Session by the Ambassador of Bangladesh to Thailand and the Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UNESCAP have “greatly elevated “ the profile and “visibility” of Bangladesh in the 53-members annual conference of the largest UN body of the Asia Pacific Region.

A 7-member Bangladesh delegation led by Secretary, Maritime Affairs Unit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Md. Khurshed Alam participated in and contributed to the session through projecting Bangladesh ‘positions in different agenda items and Commission’s outcome.