SAARC Env Mins meet in Dhaka; B'desh urges for more funds

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Dhaka, July 3 (UNI) The Environment Ministers of South Asian countries met here today to evolve a mechanism to tackle the adverse impact of climate change as Bangladesh caretaker government's Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed urged the developed countries to commit more resources to support their adaptation efforts.

''The industrialised economies must provide adaptation funds and facilitate technology transfers without any conditionality,'' Dr Ahmed said while opening a day-long seminar on climate change, organised under the banner of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

According to Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, Bangladesh could lose as much as one-third of its landmass due to the rise in sea level and entire Maldives could disappear.

''Millions of our citizens could be permanently displaced. These are not scientific conjectures. They are cautious predictions, the best case scenarios based on rigorous data analysis and simulations,'' the Chief Adviser said.

He said two successive floods ravaged Bangladesh as well as parts of India in 2007. The rise in frequency and intensity of cyclones was an ominous testimony of climatic shifts in the region.

Dr Ahmed said climate change would disproportionately hurt the poor. Its irreversible impact would steal the livelihood options of millions of citizens living below the poverty line. Floods, droughts and salinity intrusion would wreak havoc on agriculture and fisheries. Starvation, malnutrition and consequent fear of extinction would haunt impoverished citizens.

He said the adverse effects of global warming would derail the country's efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. It would unleash the gravest tragedy in human history, far graver than the 'Black Death' or the atrocities of World War II.

''We cannot, and must not, sit idle and let this happen to us,'' he added.

The Chief Adviser said the SAARC has evolved into an effective platform since its inception for addressing issues and concerns that have national consequences and regional implications. The inclusion of China, Japan, Republic of Korea, the US and the European Union as observers in SAARC was a clear manifestation of this reality.

He called for freezing the emission of greenhouse gases at an acceptable level through collective action.

''It would require the large industrialised economies -- the historical polluters -- to cut down their emissions. The developed countries must make unilateral and unconditional commitments to reduce their emission levels,'' Dr Ahmed said.

He sought support to Bangladesh's proposal to establish an International Adaptation Centre in Dhaka to share the country's knowledge and best practices with other SAARC member countries.

UNI XC SKB RN1527

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