Bangladesh leads the way in the NAP process

With the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process driving the climate change adaptation agenda, Bangladesh is forging ahead – setting a precedent for other least developed countries (LDCs) and to other countries developing NAPs. In Bangladesh, the process of planning for a climate resilient future is already well underway, generating vital impetus for increasing action on NAPs.

The imperative for adaptation in Bangladesh is devastatingly apparent. Already the country is highly vulnerable to extreme climatic events, which are expected to become more severe as a result of climate change. Frequent floods, cyclones and tropical storms disastrously impact the lives and livelihoods of communities in extremely fragile and low lying coastal zones, whilst droughts blight the population of the arid and semi-arid north western region. Within the next 50 years, over 20 million people could be displaced and become ‘climate change refugees’, if sea and salinity levels rise in Bangladesh .

“We cannot escape the destructive effects of a changing climate,” said Mr. Quzi Munirul Islam Deputy Chief (Planning) Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), Government of Bangladesh. “We have no choice but to adapt - we must adapt for the survival of our people.”

The climate change challenge in Bangladesh threatens to undermine the significant advancements achieved through more than more than two decades of development – which has seen a reduction in extreme poverty and increasing self-sufficiency in the production of staple food crops such as rice. The effects of climate change for all developing countries, and particularly LDCs mean that effective, sector-targeted and long term adaptation strategies are urgently required.

“Climate change is no longer only an environmental issue; it is a development issue,” said Dr Hasan Mahmud, MOEF, Government of Bangladesh . “We have invested billions in adaptation measures such as flood management schemes, coastal embankments, cyclone shelters and others. However, the journey is far from being over.” 

This is the rationale for the development of National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) for all developing countries, following the Cancun Adaptation Framework adopted at COP16 in 2010. The development of the NAP Global Support Programme (NAP-GSP) is supported by a large consortium comprising; United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), The Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), World Health Organization (WHO), Global Water Partnership (GWP), The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

The NAP-GSP is now working to assess the requirements of LDCs including Bangladesh which have requested support, to develop robust and effective processes to integrate adaptation into national planning at all levels.

The Government of Bangladesh has been quick to forge ahead with the development of the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP). The BCCSAP is now forming a significant foundation for Bangladesh’s ongoing activities. The plan is being implemented in six programme areas: food security, social protection and health, disaster management; resilient infrastructure; knowledge development; mitigation and low-carbon development; and capacity building and institutional strengthening.

“The BCCSAP process has already highlighted access points where support for adaptation is required,” said Mr. Sultan Ahmed, Director of Natural Resource Management, Department of Environment, Government of Bangladesh. “We have significant knowledge and expertise in Bangladesh, so we know best how to identify our country’s adaption needs. But there is a significant requirement for financing the process of consolidating our knowledge base, unifying associated planning processes and implementing our plans at all levels and within all relevant sectors.”

“The UN system is currently engaged with the Ministry of Environment & Forests to prepare the grounds for the NAP process in Bangladesh,” said Md. Tarik-ul-Islam, Assistant Country Director, Climate Change, Environment and Disaster Cluster, UNDP – Bangladesh. “We plan to support key stakeholders to develop a national framework and strategy for the NAP initiative in Bangladesh in the light of COP decisions and reflecting Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan. This framework will help establish a country-driven process to integrate climate change adaptation concerns into existing development planning processes, in an inclusive and participatory way, according to Bangladeshi circumstances, given the need for medium- and longer-term strategic responses on adaptation.”

Recently, the Government of Norway granted USD 40,000 to Bangladesh to develop this framework strategy. Government consultations are underway to assign a focal point and key leaders to carry the process forward. The Government of Bangladesh have requested support from the NAP-GSP to provide the necessary technical assistance and targeted training to officials. In light of similar requests from other countries, an upcoming regional consultation between Asian LDCs set for December 2013 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, will be used as a platform to deliver the required training. This regional consultation represents a key opportunity to share lessons and best practices on advancing NAPs.

NAP-GSP support for Bangladesh builds on a solid foundation of ongoing initiatives for mainstreaming climate change into national planning. Already, there is a broad portfolio of adaptation interventions in Bangladesh, supported by an array of development and funding partners. UNDP and UNEP are currently supporting Bangladesh on adaptation with financing from the GEF’s Least Developed Countries Fund. Additional initiatives include the UNEP/UNDP Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI), and the World Bank Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), alongside those from FAO, IFAD and Asian Development Bank.

The fact that Bangladesh is already undertaking a national adaptation planning process, and is collaborating with strong adaptation partners, puts the country ahead of other LDCs. This provides a significant opportunity for Bangladesh to share valuable experience and knowledge with other LDCs – as well as with many other countries undertaking the NAP process.