Bangladesh Nov 14 2012Discussants at a seminar on "Climate Induced Migrants: Adaptation and National Policy" at the National Press Club yesterday stressed on the need for formulating a national policy on dealing with climate induced migrants or refugees. It is very important since the problem is becoming only larger over the recent years, they argued.

They said around 30 million people would be climate refugees in the next couple of years in view of the climate disaster from rapid warming up of sea, but the country is not prepared to deal with them.

Moreover, as the developed nations are responsible for the growing oceanic disasters hitting the coastline countries, Bangladesh should work hard to secure a solid commitment of the global community to compensate these refugees and take them for resettlement in those countries.

The seminar was arranged by Equity-BD in cooperation with several others civil society organizations to push the country agenda of action in the forthcoming Doha COP-18 conference very soon.

Minister for Environment and Forest Dr Hasan Mahmud was the chief guest on the occasion.

Other organizers of the seminar included Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), Bangladesh Indigenous People Network on Climate Change and Bio Diversity (BIPNetCCBD), Climate Change Development Forum (CCDF), Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihood (CSRL), Climate Finance Governance Network (CFGN) and Network on Climate Change Bangladesh (NCCB).

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD moderated the programme while Mizanur Rahman Bijoy of NCCB presented keynote paper.

Dr. Ahsan Uddin, Ziaul Haque Mukta, Mrinal Kanti Tripura, Zakir Hossain Khan, Jahangir Hossain Masum, Iqbal Uddin and Badurl Alam also spoke on the occasion.

Dr Hasan Mahmud blamed the climate change factors as the worst impediments to the country's growth to become a middle-income nation. He said it is not only pulling back the country's GDP growth by 1 percent annually while all other developing nations and coast line countries are also paying heavily from climatic catastrophes every year.

Mahmud said Bangladesh, among the LDCs, is playing an important role in dealing with the climate change issues. "The United Nation recognises our contributions and has co-opted Bangladesh in five climate change committees," he said.

Hasan Mahmud urged the government to review the urbanization and resettlement policy as far as it goes to climate refugees at a time when their number will only grow tremendously in near future.

Ziaul Haque Mukta laid emphasis on a pro-active foreign policy to fight the climate issues at global forums at the UN, other climate conferences, besides taking them effectively at SAARC and WTO level.

It should be included in the country's education system focusing on technical aspects for coastal people at secondary and higher education level, said Zakir Hossain Khan adding that the issue of integrated national policy must be properly addressed.

Mizanur Rahman Bijoy suggested the implementation of internal migrant part of Bangladesh climate strategic action plan should be given priority.

He said there should be a new UN protocol on climate-induced migrants giving them the recognition as universal natural person. Their right to settle and earn a livelihood should be accepted in the developed countries since they stand behind their perils, he argued.

Published in The New Nation.