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Climate Change: Bangladesh Facing the Challenge

Climate Change: Bangladesh Facing the Challenge

Climate Change: Bangladesh Facing the Challenge

High Level Conference on Climate Change

September 8, 2008 - A high level conference on the impacts of climate change on Bangladesh will meet in London on September 10, 2008.

The goal of the conference is to highlight that the people of Bangladesh are already living with climate change and why tackling climate change is critical to sustain progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The conference will also highlight the need for an agreement on global emissions reduction.


Bangladesh and Climate Change

Bangladesh is trapped between the Himalayas in the north and the encroaching Bay of Bengal to the south. Bangladesh is most vulnerable to natural disasters due to the frequency of extreme climate events and its high population density. Floods are frequent and cause the greatest economic and human losses to the country. The flooding problems are exacerbated by sediment transported by three major rivers- the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna.

Climate change poses significant risks for Bangladesh. The impacts of higher temperatures, more variable precipitation, more extreme weather events, and sea level rise are already felt in Bangladesh and will continue to intensify. The impacts result not only from gradual changes in temperature and sea level but also, in particular, from increased climate variability and extreme events, including more intense floods, droughts, and storms.

These changes are already having major impacts on the economic performance of Bangladesh and on the lives and livelihoods of millions of poor people.


Impact on Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, climate change will affect many sectors, including water resources, agriculture and food security, ecosystems and biodiversity, human health and coastal zones.

- Many environmental and developmental problems will be exacerbated by climate change.
- Predicted rainfall increases, particularly during the summer monsoon, could increase flood-prone areas in Bangladesh.
- Crop yields are predicted to fall by up to 30 per cent, creating a very high risk of hunger.
- Predicted temperature increase will cause the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas.

In the short term, the global warming increases risk of flooding, erosion, mudslides during the wet season. In the longer term, global warming could lead to disappearance of many glaciers that feed many rivers in South Asia.


Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Bangladesh has already achieved one of the key Millennium Development Goals (MDG) - gender parity in primary and secondary schooling. The country is on track to achieve most of the MDG goals, even the difficult ones like infant and maternal mortality by 2015.

However, the predicted adverse impacts due to global warming could reverse the recent economic and social gains. The progress towards achieving the MDGs, such as eradicating poverty, combating communicable diseases and ensuring environmental sustainability could be in jeopardy.


Agriculture Growth & Poverty

Agricultural growth is especially effective in reducing poverty. Estimates show that overall GDP growth originating in agriculture is, on average, at least twice as effective in benefiting the poorest half of a country’s population as growth generated in nonagricultural sectors. In sum, agricultural growth can reduce poverty directly, by raising farm incomes, and indirectly, through labor markets and by reducing food prices.


Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture

It is predicted that climate change could have devastating impact on agriculture. Agriculture is a key economic driver in Bangladesh, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the GDP and 65 percent of the labor force. The performance of this sector has considerable influence on overall growth, the trade balance, and the level and structure of poverty and malnutrition.

Moreover, much of the rural population, especially the poor, is reliant on the agriculture as a critical source of livelihoods and employment.

The impacts of climate change could affect agriculture in Bangladesh in many ways:

- The predicted sea-level rise will threaten valuable coastal agricultural land, particularly in low-lying areas.
- Biodiversity would be reduced in some of the most fragile environments, such as sunder bans and tropical forests.
- Climate unpredictability will make planning of farm operations more difficult.

The effects of these impacts will threaten food security for the most vulnerable people of Bangladesh. The country’s agriculture sector is already under stress from lack of productivity and population growth. Any further attempt to increase productivity will likely to add pressure to available land and water resources.


World Bank Role

The 2007 floods and Cyclone Sidr which claimed several thousand lives in Bangladesh were reminders that climate change is already beginning to have an impact. The Bank’s response has been to significantly scale up its activity on adapting to and mitigating climate change. It is providing assistance and advocacy in urban development, rural areas, coastal zone and ecosystem management. The Bank is also working with various partners to help develop a major disaster preparedness program for the country.


Additional Resources

- Bangladesh: Cyclone Sidr
Praful Patel, Vice President, World Bank, recently visited the cyclone-affected Kalapara upazilla of Patuakhali District and Barisal division. (Read More »)

- World Bank Aid to Bangladesh Cyclone Recovery
The World Bank has offered up to US$250 million in the aftermath of Cyclone Sidr to help millions of Bangladeshis recover and to strengthen the country’s disaster mitigation systems. (Read More »)

- 2007 South Asia Floods
Providing cash transfers to people affected by the floods that have devastated parts of Bangladesh, India, and Nepal is one of the most effective ways to help rebuilding lives and stimulate local markets. (Read More »)

- Agriculture for Development
The 2008 World Development Report calls for a revival of agriculture in South Asia. Agricultural development is key to eradicating poverty and creating conditions for sustainable and equitable growth. (Read More »)

- South Asia: Development Data
A wide range of social and economic measures on South Asia, including links to the World Bank's most important online development databases. (Read More »)

- South Asia: Analysis and Research
Compilation of all the World Bank's publications on South Asia, with 'search' options and links to analysis and research on other South Asian countries. (Read More »)

- World Bank Program in South Asia
Launching pad to all information on World Bank activities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.(Read More »)




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