‘Disaster dealing skills help Bangladesh tackling corona’

Experiences in climate change and disaster preparedness have helped Bangladesh tackle the Covid-19 emergency, Ambassador Rabab Fatima tells the United Nations.

The Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN was addressing a virtual ‘High Level Political Forum’ side event on “Adaptation and Resilience in a post-COVID world Transformative, Inclusive and Locally-led Climate Policy and Action” in New York on Wednesday.

She highlighted the initiatives the government had taken and said “As a climate vulnerable country with recurring disasters, Bangladesh has learnt over the years the critical importance of disaster preparedness, community engagement and institutional capacity building which helped us in our response to Covid-19 pandemic”.

The Netherlands, Ireland, Kenya, Bhutan and Bangladesh co-hosted the event in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), according to a statement.

Vice Minister of the Netherlands Roald Lapperre, Permanent Observer and Head of Delegation of IFRC Richard Blewitt, and a member of the advisory panel of Climate Vulnerable Forum Dr. Saleemul Huq spoke, among others, at the meeting.

Ambassador Fatima said both the Covid-19 and climate change as “invincible threats” to lives, livelihoods, and development, particularly for countries with pre-existing vulnerabilities.

But she said global preparedness and actions were “woefully inadequate” to tackle health and climate emergencies.
She also recalled how Bangladesh and several other countries had faced double jeopardy of the Covid-19 and natural calamities such as cyclone Amphan simultaneously.

Ambassador Fatima held out the efforts of Bangladesh to strengthen adaptation and resilience building against climate change including the implementation of the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100, strong early warning system, immaculate disaster preparedness practices, innovation in agriculture such as drought and salinity-resistant crops for ensuring food security.

She referred to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ‘whole of society’ approach in adaptation and resilience building where women, youth and the local communities are central to all government initiatives for combating climate, health and other emergencies.

She urged the development partners, as well as multilateral donors and the private sector to come forward to support national efforts for post-COVID recovery and climate action, especially of the most vulnerable countries, to build back better by providing additional financial and technological support.

The Vice Minister of the Netherlands said that the Covid-19 recovery plans must be “comprehensive and should complement climate actions to create stronger resilience against any future shock or calamities”.

Dr. Saleemul Haq highlighted the importance of more vigorous efforts to address the existing gaps in the global endeavours for adaptation and resilience building and opined that the needs and challenges of the local communities must be taken into consideration by the policy-makers.

Several panelists alluded to Bangladesh’s remarkable success in crisis management and resilience building, according to Bangladesh's UN mission.