Bangladesh urges inclusion as promisor to end deforestation

Climate activists George Square in Glasgow demanding action in climate change from world leaders and politicians at COP26. Photo: Shamsuddin Illius
Bangladesh urges inclusion as promisor to end deforestation

Bangladesh has called for including its name on the list of countries that have pledged to end deforestation by 2030 in the wake of widespread criticism after the country's name was dropped from the list.

On Tuesday, leaders of 124 countries promised to end deforestation by 2030, which is being considered as the first big achievement at the ongoing United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow.

"On Wednesday, we mailed the UK government and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, urging them to update the list adding Bangladesh's name," Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin told The Business Standard at the Bangladesh pavilion.

The leaders of countries having more than 85% of the world forest made the promise in the conference. Some of the countries, including Brazil, China, Colombia, Congo, Indonesia, Russia and the United States, have massive forest areas.

Over $19 billion in public and private funds have been pledged at the Glasgow conference to fulfil the target of ending deforestation by 2030.

Meanwhile, the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Wednesday urged the government to take definitive action against deforestation, in line with the pledges of world leaders at COP26.

The civil society organisation expressed deep concern after Bangladesh's name was not included in the list of countries making the pledge.

The deforestation rate in Bangladesh is almost twice the global rate of 2.6%, said TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman, citing the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) data.

Mostafa Kamal, secretary to the environment, forest and climate change ministry, told TBS, "There is no scope of misunderstanding. Bangladesh has already updated the NDCs [nationally determined contributions] mentioning reduction of deforestation and pledging money to implement it. As the name of Bangladesh was not included, we requested them to add our name and update the list."

Experts, meanwhile, said despite the concern of environmentalists, the Bangladesh government has taken many projects in reserve forest and environmentally endangered areas, including the Dohazari-Cox's Bazar-Gundhum railway project that would pass through at least a 27-kilometre wildlife sanctuary.

Ongoing construction of the Rampal coal-based power station near the Sundarbans, setting up of an administrative academy on over 700 acres of the Jhilangja forest in Cox's Bazar, and establishing a safari park in the Lathitila reserved forest are some of examples of the government's backtracking from the pledge of ending deforestation, experts said.

Professor Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder, joint secretary of the Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon, an environmental group that works to prevent environmental degradation, told TBS, "Making a promise only to break it afterward has no significance. We expect that the Bangladesh government will sincerely keep its promise of ending deforestation. Implementation of the pledge is the only way to prove that the government is committed to its promise."

Protestants gathered at George Square in Glasgow demanding climate justice. Photo: Shamsuddin Illius
Protestors gathered at George Square in Glasgow demanding climate justice. Photo: Shamsuddin Illius

Bangladesh's NDCs to deforestation

Bangladesh updated its latest nationally determined contributions (NDCs) on 26 August 2021, mentioning $770 million unconditional and $2,507 million conditional funds for agriculture, forestry and other land use.

NDCs represent efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and initiatives to adapt to the impacts of climate change. In the NDCs, Bangladesh said that it will work to reduce deforestation, accelerate afforestation and forest restoration and increase tree coverage.

Bangladesh said it will increase tree coverage from 22.37% to 24% and bring 150,000 hectares of coastal areas, islands and degraded areas under afforestation and reforestation. The country also promised to restore 137,800 hectares of deforested area and restore 200,000 hectares of degraded forest in the hill and plain land. It also promised to plant trees beside roads, and on embankments and private lands.

Bangladesh also said it would reduce emission from rice fields, fertiliser use, and manure management.

Mostafa Kamal, secretary to the environment, forest and climate change ministry, said to implement these NDC pledges, Bangladesh needs a fund of $3,279 million. "So, we have sought $2,507 million from the parties while $770 million will be provided from our own budget."

This story was originally published by The Business Standard on November 5, 2021. It produced as part of the 2021 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.

Banner image: Climate activists, including hundreds of children, protest at George Square in Glasgow, demanding action on climate change from world leaders and politicians at COP26 / Credit: Shamsuddin Illius.

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