Post-corona green recovery plans and progress in Bangladesh
Syed Matiul Ahsan, Muzammel Haque
Globally we are passing through unprecedented complex situation and often it terms as a routine cycle of 100-year pandemic and others are strongly connect it with the impact of our ruthless to the natural resources and environment. Whatever might the reason, hopefully the situation will be over at some points. But experts have emphasised on ‘Build Back Greener’ when to think about post COVID19 recovery phases. The COVID-19 pandemic is an extreme crisis that affects everyone and every nation in the world.
Many scientists believe that COVID-19 pandemic has a direct link with environmental degradation, deforestation and illegal poaching, bringing wild animals into close contact with humans. Many experts also think that poorer communities will be more vulnerable to such pandemic due to climate change. According to the United States Agency for International Development, about 75% of all emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic – meaning they come from animals. Due to climate change and loss of habitat an increasing number of animal carriers of diseases are changing their behavior and migrating to new areas.
Bangladesh government has set an allocation of Tk 1,246 crore (Tk 649 crore for operation; Tk 599 crore for development) to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change in the budget of FY2020-2021. The amount will be spent by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). The national budget indicates the cumulative budget allocation for the respective MoEFCC is 0.22% of the total budget, and development allocation increased by 130%, operation expenditure decreased by 20% due to COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Country Investment Plan for Environment, Forestry and Climate Change (EFCC-CIP) - the minimum allocation was needed 2,850 crore (approximately). 7.5% of the total budget allocated for the climate relevant interventions, per person - Environment Conservation Budget, physical infrastructure development is the main priority for GoB but Nature Based Solution (NbS) absent in the current budget within climate relevant interventions. In the 2019-20 Climate Financing for Sustainable Development-budget report – provides climate financing breakdown of allocation for each ministry or division by the BCCSAP thematic areas, and it shows that among the six thematic areas, maximum allocation was made to Food Security, Social Protection and Health, followed by Infrastructure and Mitigation and Low Carbon Development. The thematic area on Food Security, Social Protection and Health got the highest allocation of 93.1% of the ministry budget in FY2019-20.
Bangladesh government should spend the budget in a highly effective way to accelerate economic recovery after a major crisis. This is likely to be particularly true in a deep “pancession”– a pandemic-induced recession – any countries may now face, even developed countries. In the aftermath of the global coronavirus pandemic, countries are likely to mobilise significant spending to reinvigorate the economies. While the economic consequences of the lockdown offer a reminder that financial stress and insecurity are grinding daily realities for many people globally, leading figures are calling for action for regeneration. We know a green recovery makes economic sense, and will support from government and overseas by leading research, academics in green job. What we urgently need to see now, and post-pandemic, is commitments from government on turning this into action. The best way to show this leadership is to put resilience at the heart of our economic recovery by accelerating the transition to net zero, restoring nature and supporting the most vulnerable communities where disaster is common phenomena.
Bangladesh government should invest more in green recovery programmes for economic reconstruction, better health and biodiversity conservation. Carbon dioxide emission is declining rapidly when lockdowns took effect. Experts fear that without strong government interventions, the development activities will return to business as usual with high carbon emissions, or that emissions could rise to pre-lockdown levels. We have one chance and we should not waste it.
The current Covid-19 pandemic is showing us the fact that if we destroy the nature, we actually ruin the nature that supports of plants and animal to exist as well as human life. Due to important interactions with environmental and social processes, it would be difficult to determine the contribution of ecological and biological influences of climate change on health.
Nature is now breathing deeply due to the lockdown—from the tranquility of the outdoors to clean air and water, natural resources, disease suppression, and the capacity to help slow climate change and protect us from its impacts. Many of the cities around the world are also planning for life after COVID-19, and some of them have decided to share knowledge and expertise to overcome the immediate green recovery programmes. A series of environmental initiatives are already being rolled out from the world to ensure public safety and bolster the fight against climate crisis.
Nature Based Solution (NbS) should be more priority for the Bangladesh’s development objectives. Increase investments in green recovery and climate resilient infrastructure will be made the country more resilient to natural disasters. One month ago, Cyclone Amphan had imaginably less shocking effect than initially frightened because of better Early Warning System (EWS) and more investment in embankment setup and School-cum-Cyclone Shelter. As efforts to enhance a green recovery take hold, Bangladesh is also thriving to be best place to attract foreign investment that will contribute to climate change mitigation and disaster risk reduction.
The significance of biodiversity to ensure human well-being and to achieve sustainable development is unquestionable. Climate change and environmental degradation undermine the rights of every people, especially for the children and women. The role of biodiversity conservation is emphasised with utmost importance in many goals and targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While some countries are focusing on building a sustainable economy in line with the Paris Agreement, others are using the COVID-19 crisis to step back from green evolution and human rights. Focus had to be shifted towards humanitarian relief due to COVID-19. However, green recovery action should be government’s high priority.
Syed Matiul Ahsan – Deputy Director, Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, Humanitarian Department - Save the Children International
Muzammel Haque - Senior Officer, Climate Change Adaptation, Humanitarian Department - Save the Children International