UN climate talks: a view from Bangladesh

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UN climate talks: a view from Bangladesh by Nazmul Chowdhury


I'm with the pumpkins: Nazmul Chowdhury from Practical Action's wants to get back to helping Bangladeshi people to adapt to global warming; the climate talks at Doha were disappointing.

I understand the need to adapt better than most people. The people I work with are very poor and they are the people who are affected most by global warming.

My job is to help men, women and children escape from long-term extreme poverty – I have helped 60,000 people so far. The projects, part of NGO Practical Action, include floating gardens, planting pumpkins on sand islands (see picture above) and building cages to farm fish. The money people get from these projects will be even more important in the future.

Millions of people in Bangladesh have very difficult lives, and they have terrible cyclones there about five times a year. They know that climate change is already happening better than others. And if they cannot protect their lives from the rising sea level and floods, they and their families will die.

I am afraid that people are not taking adaptation seriously at Doha. About 40 people from six countries came to my presentation. Other adaptation meetings did not have many people. I wanted to see many people discussing this problem – from the countries that are suffering most from climate change – but I did not.

Leaders must set serious targets at these UN talks. But it’s just as important for world governments to commit to adaptation to help the poorest people. If they do not progress in these areas, the lives of millions of poor people, including the people I work with every day, will be at risk.

But everything wasn’t bad at Doha; there were lots of other discussions to make climate change adaptation more important. I talked about climate change adaptation to Helen Clark, the head of the UN’s development programme. ‘We don’t need to wait for a global climate agreement to invest in adaptation and protecting people from the effects of climate change,’ she agreed. ‘That is very important. And now'.

I was also pleased that the British government has promised to spend £1.8bn over the next 2 years on climate finance, half for adaptation projects. And, as the UN talks are closing, it is starting to look as if the UN has decided to continue the Kyoto agreement.

But very few countries agree, so the Kyoto process will probably die soon. It now seems very unlikely that we can stop temperatures rising less than 2 degrees. This will be absolutely terrible for poor countries like Bangladesh.

There has been some progress with adaptation, but still there’s no agreement on how to decide how much has been lost and damaged – there is a lot of disagreement about this. If people do nothing, humanity will lose. Again, the rich countries have failed to support millions of my people. No-one knows what will happen to them, with rising water levels and more floods all the time.

I will be happy to get back to Bangladesh where my climate adaptation work has an effect.

Practical Action has been at the COP 18 talks in Doha. They argued that the UN must increase the importance of adaptation to climate change, and rich countries should give money to the poorest communities to help with the effects of climate change.

As this article has been simplified, the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed. For the original, please see: http://www.newint.org/blog/2012/12/07/bangladesh-adaptation-climate-change-doha/