Mentioning that the adverse impacts of climate change will continue to strongly challenge lives and livelihoods, Environment, Forests and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin on Tuesday called for drastic actions on adaptation.
“The climate crisis is an existential threat to many of us, and Bangladesh is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. The adverse impacts of climate change would continue to challenge our lives and livelihoods severely unless we come up with drastic adaptation actions,” he said.
The minister came up with the remarks while speaking at the ministerial high-level segment at the Conference of the Parties (COP25) here.
He said Bangladesh has prepared the Delta Plan 2100 to address the adverse impacts of climate change through adaptive delta management. “It (Delta Plan) is a long-term strategy to implement action for sustainable delta development in Bangladesh. It’ll also assist us to address the adverse impacts of climate change through adaptive delta management,” he said.
Working closely with stakeholders, Bangladesh hopes to harness international best practices and finance to ensure its successful implementation, the minister said, adding that in the year of action, Dhaka will be able to contribute substantially to the global actions to deal with the climate crisis.
“We stand ready to contribute to global adaptation actions building on our experiences,” he said.
In Bangladesh, resilience building and adaptation are at the heart of development efforts and the government has invested heavily for improved agriculture, coastal zone management, resilient infrastructure and water and land management, he said.
Bangladesh has shown how a strong early warning system and a coordinated approach in disaster management can make a big difference and Scaled-up disaster response has included cyclone shelters , building civic awareness, and improving post-disaster recovery, he added. “The frequency of disasters has increased but we’ve been able to reduce the loss of lives from hundreds of thousands a few years back to almost zero now.”
The two-day high-level segment from December 10-11 will be attended by ministers from 200 countries.
Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming has sharply reacted to US’ views regarding Belt and Road initiative (BRI) maintaining that BRI is “open, inclusive and beneficial” to all.
“More than anything else, such malicious slander and irresponsible claim (by US) are certainly not the least helpful for any kind of peace and development in this region,” he mentioned in an article shared with the media on Tuesday.
The Chinese envoy referred to comments made by US Assistant Secretary of Defense Randall G Schriver during his recent visit to Bangladesh.
Ambassador Jiming said Schriver claimed that the BRI did not support free and open regional development nor ensure the protection of nations’ sovereignty and international law.
Li Jiming, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Bangladesh. Photo: Courtesy
“The claim is rather groundless given where China is standing today in issues concerning global interest and international governance, in stark contrast with how the US has behaved in the past few years,” he added.
The Chinese envoy said proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, the BRI has been a trending word that frequents news headlines all around the globe, even more so in Bangladesh as it is one of the first South Asian countries to join the initiative.
“We highly appreciate that Bangladesh along with many other countries have showed great support towards BRI for their good faith in China and the benefits the initiative has already delivered to their people,” he said.
Ambassador Jiming said it also came up suspicions and speculations over China’s true intention by proposing the biggest public good the world has ever seen so far. “And in spite of repeated efforts of China in explaining the nature of the BRI, there is a curious obstinacy from some quarters that rejects the Chinese narrative and insists on making unsubstantiated allegations against the initiative.”
The Chinese envoy said nonetheless, seeing there is still an inadequacy of understanding on what BRI really represents as a whole, especially in certain developed countries who “falsely interpret” the initiative as a threat to the existing international order, he feels obliged to provide a more comprehensive explanation on what the BRI really is and the true spirit it embodies: openness, inclusiveness and mutual benefits.
He said the Belt and Road Initiative is proposed for building forms of connectivity among the continents and countries around the globe in order to facilitate closer cooperation in development and beyond.
Till date, more than 150 countries and international organisations have signed BRI cooperation documents with China, said the Ambassador.
He said the BRI would not pose any form of risk to its partners, which has been well proved in the practice and implementation of the BRI in the past six years.
“BRI is open, inclusive and beneficial for all. Moving into the future, China will seek to build a more dynamic and inclusive BRI by engaging in bilateral, trilateral and multilateral cooperation with all participants, an open, green and clean BRI that is transparent and free of corruption,” said the Ambassador.
He talked about a higher standard BRI that aims to improve people’s lives in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of UN 2030 Agenda, as stated by President Xi Jinping of China at the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2019.
“China always stands by its words to welcome all countries to join the BRI in a common effort to make our world a better place,” said the Chinese envoy.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Yanghee Lee has condemned online threats against activists campaigning for justice and accountability, urging the government and social media firms to do more to protect campaigners.
The threats follow announcements of international legal proceedings over the atrocities committed against the Rohingya by the Myanmar military and other security forces in 2016 and 2017, and their ongoing persecution.
“The online threats, including those targeting prominent activists Dr. Maung Zarni and Mr. Nay Say Lwin of the Free Rohingya Coalition are deeply concerning,” Lee said.
She called on each and every organ of the Myanmar State to ensure that absolutely no reprisals are taken against any group or individual that is advocating for justice and accountability in Myanmar, according to a message received here from Geneva.
Last month, The Gambia filed an historic application against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice under the Genocide Convention, while the International Criminal Court has authorised an investigation into crimes against humanity that are alleged across the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, and criminal complaints of genocide and crimes against humanity have been filed in Argentina under the principle of universal jurisdiction.
“Following the announcement of these important developments, I have noted the spread of increasingly hostile online rhetoric propagating a false and divisive narrative of being either ‘with us’ or ‘against us’,” said Lee.
She said abusive speech continues to be circulated on social media targeting Myanmar’s ethnic minorities, including the Rohingya, as well as human rights defenders, women and others.
“These messages are intended to spread hatred and fear and, as we know, can have disastrous real-world consequences.”
Noting the role that social media had played in stoking the violence of 2016 and 2017, Lee called on the government to take urgent and comprehensive action to combat incitement to violence, discrimination and hatred and to actively promote a culture of tolerance and moderation.
“The Myanmar government should ensure that everyone doing so is safe from intimidation, violence and reprisals,” she said.
Lee urged social media companies to step up their efforts to meet their responsibility to respect human rights, including by ensuring they were not providing platforms for hate and incitement to violence.
Law Minister Anisul Huq, NHRC Chairman Nasima Begum, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Bangladesh Mia Seppo and NHRC full-time member Dr. Kamal Uddin Ahmed also spoke at the event.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government of Bangladesh on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly promote public-private partnership (PPP) projects in the country’s health care sector.
The tripartite MOU was signed at a ceremony in the city by the Additional Director General (Admin) of Directorate General of Health Services Prof Dr Nasima Sultana; Director General of Bangladesh PPP Authority (PPPA) Md. Abul Bashar; and ADB Country Director for Bangladesh Manmohan Parkash.
Secretary of the Health Services Division of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Md. Ashadul Islam and Chief Executive Officer of PPPA Md. Alkama Siddiqui witnessed the signing ceremony.
“PPPs have the potential to unlock greater private sector investments and efficiencies to complement ongoing government initiatives to improve the quality and affordability of health care in Bangladesh,” said Parkash.
“PPPs can bring genuine improvements to health systems and we’re very pleased to expand our collaboration with Bangladesh into this crucial sector.”
Public health in Bangladesh has improved significantly in recent decades due to high immunization, reduced infant and maternal mortality, and lower fertility rates.
The World Health Organization says the country’s remaining health challenges include high incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart attacks, chronic respiratory diseases, kidney diseases, and diabetes.
PPPs can provide affordable and quality services to prevent and manage NCDs, and be an alternative to public sector spending to build and operate hospitals and health education facilities.
Under the MOU, ADB’s Office of Public–Private Partnership will identify, prepare, and implement projects under PPP arrangements including in priority areas such as diagnostics and dialysis services.
ADB will provide holistic support through the Asia Pacific Project Preparation Facility (AP3F), which can provide integrated support for capacity building, development of standardized templates for procurement and contracting, creation of a potential health care project pipeline, and transaction advisory services.
ADB has been a development partner of Bangladesh since 1973 and has approved around $25 billion for loans, grants, and technical assistance.
Nobel Peace laureates have demanded that Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, along with her army commanders, be held criminally accountable for crimes committed.
“As Nobel Peace laureates, we call on Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, to publicly acknowledge the crimes, including genocide, committed against the Rohingya,” said the Nobel peace laureates in a joint statement.
The hearing on genocide by Myanmar against Rohingyas began at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Tuesday in The Hague, Netherlands as the Gambia asked the top UN court to urgently order measures “to stop Myanmar’s genocidal conduct.”
Suu Kyi, who once held her under house arrest, will defend those on Wednesday at the top UN court.
“We’re deeply concerned that instead of condemning these crimes, Aung San Suu Kyi is actively denying that these atrocities even occurred,” said statement of the Nobel peace laureates.
The Nobel peace laureates are Shirin Ebadi (Nobel Peace Laureate 2003, Iran), Leymah Gbowee (Nobel Peace Laureate 2011, Liberia), Tawakkol Karman (Nobel Peace Laureate 2011, Yemen), Mairead Maguire (Nobel Peace Laureate 1976, Northern Ireland) Rigoberta Menchú Tum (Nobel Peace Laureate 1992, Guatemala), Jody Williams (Nobel Peace Laureate 1997, USA) and Kailash Satyarthi (Nobel Peace Laureate 2014, India).
The Gambia filed a lawsuit in November 2019 with the International Court of Justice – the United Nations’ highest court – for atrocities committed against the Rohingya by Myanmar.
“We commend The Gambia for taking this step to hold Myanmar responsible for the genocide against the Rohingya and for advancing justice for the victims of these crimes,” the statement said.
Just days after the ICJ complaint was lodged, the International Criminal Court announced that it will be investigating crimes committed against the Rohingya.
The Rohingya, a Muslim and ethnic minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, have suffered decades of systematic discrimination with the government of Myanmar not even recognising them as citizen.
In 2017, Myanmar’s military, police and local militia burned Rohingya villages, systematically shot and killed Rohingya and committed acts of sexual violence and rape – used as a weapon of war – against women and girls.
Since August 2017, Bangladesh has received over 700,000 Rohingyas with now close to one million Rohingya living in refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Many are scared of repatriation as there is no guarantee for their safety if returned to Myanmar.
“As people of peace, we urge Aung San Suu Kyi to address the systematic discrimination of the Rohingya in Rakhine State, and ensure the Rohingya’s right to nationality, land ownership, freedom of movement and other fundamental rights,” said the Nobel laureates.
They also urged her to exercise her personal and moral responsibility towards the Rohingya and acknowledge and condemn the genocide committed under her watch.
In February 2018, three Nobel peace laureates -- Tawakkol Karman, Shirin Ebadi, and Mairead Maguire -- visited Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.
They spent time with and listened to the stories of over 100 women refugees.
After hearing testimonies describing how security forces burned villages, tortured, killed and systematically raped women and girls—as well as reports from humanitarian organizations and UN officials— the Laureates concluded that the attacks on the Rohingya of Rakhine State amounted to crimes against humanity and genocide.
They requested visas to meet Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar, but permission to travel to Myanmar was not granted.