London, September 12 : Bangladesh has launched a climate change action plan to help itself adapt to threats such as rising sea level, water-logged land and increased salinity.
According to a report in Nature News, the strategy, which is aimed at adapting to the local effects of climate change over the coming decade, was launched at a conference in London on September 10, with a 75 million pounds grant from the UK government.
Last year, Bangladesh lost 3,000 people to cyclone Sidr and 140,000 people to a cyclone in 1991. Scientists estimate that 40 per cent of the country could be affected by flooding by 2050 as a result of climate change.
At the conference, the UK and Bangladeshi governments also signed a joint communique, outlining the need for a strengthened international deal on stabilizing greenhouse gases due to be discussed in Copenhagen next year.
"Least-developed countries, including Bangladesh, need immediate international support to build their resilience to global warming and climate change. The resources currently available for adaptation are grossly inadequate," said Mirza Azizul Islam, Bangladesh's secretary of state and finance adviser.
"We want a new sense of urgency to support Bangladesh in our search for a better tomorrow. This is why we are presenting our climate change action plan and calling on the international community to assist Bangladesh by providing predicable, long-term financing for the plan," he added.
The Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan sets out six key areas of action including on food security, disaster management, research and knowledge management and mitigation and low-carbon technology development.
To ensure food security and health, the plan calls for research to develop crop varieties that are tolerant to flooding and salinity, and to implement surveillance systems for existing and emerging diseases.
It recommends that Bangladesh establish a centre for research and knowledge management on climate change, enabling the country to have access to the latest science and technological developments.
Bangladesh should also strengthen its cyclone, storm surge and early-warning systems to enable more accurate short-, medium- and long-term forecasts.
"Bangladesh is ground zero for climate change," said Atiq Rahman, executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies and chairman of the climate action network for south Asia. "We hope this initiative will be picked up and applied in other developing countries," he added.
To finance the action plan, Bangladesh has established a National Climate Change Fund with 45 million dollars of its own cash, which will focus on adaptation initiatives.
Britain's 75 million pounds contribution includes 60 million pounds for helping people adapt to climate change, 12 million pounds for disaster management and 3 million pounds for research.