Bangladesh-UK Youth Voices on Climate Action: The Road to Glasgow

H.E. Mr. Md. Shahriar Alam, M.P. Hon’ble State Minister for Foreign Affairs
H.E. Mr. Md. Shahriar Alam, M.P. Hon’ble State Minister for Foreign Affairs
Azadi Ka Amrit Mahoutsav

Bangladesh High Commission London

Suggested Speech for H.E. Mr. Md. Shahriar Alam, M.P. Hon’ble State Minister for Foreign Affairs at the ‘Bangladesh High Commission London-Tower Hamlets Council Youth Climate Dialogue

Bangladesh-UK Youth Voices on Climate Action: The Road to Glasgow

London,Friday, 25 June 2021 at 1400-1530 hrs

Thank you High Commissioner Tasneem.

Hon State Minister for London and Minister for Small Businesses of HM Govt, Mr. Paul Scully MP,

Mayor John Biggs of London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Ms Rushnara Ali MP, Chair of APPG on Bangladesh at UK Parleiment,

Mr. Nahim Razzaq MP, Convener of Climate Parliament, Bangladesh

Young climate activists from Britain and Bangladesh

I’m delighted to join today’s climate dialogue, “Bangladesh-UK Youth Voices on Climate Action: The Road to Glasgow”, jointly organized by Bangladesh High Commission, London and the Tower Hamlets Council on the occasion of 50th anniversary of Bangladesh-UK diplomatic relations and the London Climate Action Week 2021.

 It is indeed heartening to see climate-conscious young people from both our countries joining today’s climate debate and raise their voices ahead of the COP26 Summit at Glasgow for a greener and more resilient planet. Young men and women from different climatic regions of Bangladesh and from London’s Tower Hamlets Borough- I look forward to listening to your climate ambitions and expectations at the COP26 and your locally-led climate actions on our road to Glasgow and beyond.

As for the urgency of climate action, may I quote Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a UN Champion of the Earth and current President of the Climate Vulnerable Forum who said at the Climate Ambition Summit hosted by PM Boris Johnson last December, and I quote, “ …the time to take action to save the planet is not tomorrow- but today. For millions in Bangladesh and in many climate vulnerable nations, climate change is an existential threat and a question of survival”, unquote.

I therefore, commend Bangladesh High Commission London for championing climate action as a central theme of BD-UK@50 celebrations and also for today’s initiative to engage the British-Bangladeshi and Bangladesh youth for climate action. I am especially happy to learn about the High Commission’s innovative youth initiatives including  creation of a platform for youth Climate volunteers for the Road to Glasgow and announcement of the High Commission’s Mujib Climate Prosperity Youth Award.

May I also laud Mayor John Biggs for making Tower Hamlets one of the first councils in the UK to declare a climate emergency as early as 2019 and for his ambitious targets to achieve a net-zero for Tower Hamlets Council by 2025 and for the Borough by 2050. I hope today’s dialogue and the award would forge greater climate connectivity and enthusiasm amongst young people from our two nations to champion the climate planetary emergency.

Bangladesh National climate actions

Ladies and gentlemen,

            Bangladesh, with a near-to–nil carbon footprint, ranks No 7 in Global Climate Risk Index 2020’s most at-risk country and a profound victim of global emissions. By 2050, rising sea levels will submerge 17 percent of Bangladesh’s coastlines and displace more than 20 million people. Each year we lose 1% of our GDP to extreme climate events. More than 10 million Bangladeshis already became climate migrants while we continue to generously host 1.1 million forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar at a steep ecological cost.

And yet, under the extraordinary climate-stewardship of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh has emerged a global leader in adaptation, climate-resilience, and nature-based climate solutions. We are also submitting ambitious and quantified NDCs ahead of COP26 including a renewable energy target of 40% by 2041. Our Parliament was the first in South Asia to declare a “Planetary Emergency” and called on the world to work “on a war-footing’’ to stop climate change. Our government is spending on an average 2.5% of our GDP, US$5 billion each year in climate adaptation and resilience-building alongside the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100. Without waiting for external; financing our government implemented more than 800 climate action projects from PM Sheikh Hasina’s self-financed 450 million US$ National Climate Change Trust Fund.

This year, as we celebrate birth centenary of our Founding Father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced the ‘Mujib Climate Prosperity Decade 2030’ and action plan charting a low-carbon development pathway for Bangladesh, while making our economic growth more climate resilient. 30 million saplings are being planted nationwide as part of the Mujib climate prosperity action, mostly by our women and youth climate volunteers including many from the coasts of Bangladesh.

On UK’s COP26 Presidency and Bangladesh-UK, COP26-CVF collaboration

Dear friends,                 

On this historic year of golden jubilee of Bangladesh, birth centenary of the Bangabandhu as well as 50 years of Bangladesh-UK diplomatic relations, when UK takes on global climate leadership as COP26 President and Bangladesh as President of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, our two governments and peoples specially young people, must capture the moment to maximize our climate ambitions, collaborations and partnerships.

We were very happy to have received the COP26 President RT Hon Alok Sharma in Dhaka earlier this month and reaffirm our common resolve to strengthen bilateral and multilateral collaborations on climate finance, technology transfer and private sector capacity building to accelerate a circular economy, and  our aspired transition to low-carbon and resilient development pathways.

Bangladesh looks forward to UK’s robust and ambitious climate leadership at the COP26 and beyond specially in securing mitigation commitments by the G20 to curb global emissions substantially, arrest global temperatures at 1.5 degrees, secure maximal climate finance especially the promised 100 billion USD each year, unlock international carbon markets for transactional climate cooperation and low-carbon technology transfer, and address the profound loss and damage for the climatically displaced millions.

It was highly encouraging to listen to Minister Paul Scully, who eloquently laid down UK’s as well as London’s ambitious climate action plans specially towards a net-zero by 2050. Bangladesh congratulates the UK for emerging as the first G20 nation to pass a net zero emission law and securing G7 commitments towards a net-zero and a global green revolution.

I thank Paul Scully and Rushnara Ali MP for reaffirming UK’s and the COP26 Presidency’s willingness to work closely with Bangladesh and our Presidency of the Climate Vulnerable Forum.  On 25 November in Dhaka, I along with FCDO Minister Lord Ahmed, successfully launched the Bangladesh-UK climate partnership action forum which will work in tandem with Bangladesh-UK CVF-COP26 Presidency collaborations for a more resilient future for CVF’s 1.2 billion people.

This is perhaps for the first time that the young climate activists of Bangladesh and those at the historic Tower Hamlets Borough, home to largest numbers of Bangladeshi Diaspora in the UK, are joining hands during the London Climate Action week in forging youth climate ambitions ahead of the COP26 Youth Summit in Milan and towards a successful COP26. I therefore conclude by calling upon our young people and climate activists from Bangladesh and the UK, to join hands and emerge as the greatest force for good for your countries, raise your voices at the COP26 and beyond, and be an asset to your local communities in saving the planet, people and nature for succeeding generations. There is no planet B or plan B.  

I thank you.

Bangladesh Corespondent – Anowarul Hoque Bhuiyan

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