Bangladesh has said ocean health, like climate change, needs proper regional and international attention and frameworks supported by all stakeholders.
âWe must ensure that our ocean with its all resources remains healthy under proper surveillance and continue creating equitable opportunities for our people,â said State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam.
He made the call while delivering a speech at the 5th Indian Ocean Conference 2021 (Plenary Session 3) on Sunday arranged on a virtual platform.
Minister to the PM and Standing Secretary of State, Cambodia Ouch Borith; State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maldives, Ahmed Khaleel and Deputy Minister, Tanzania Omary Kipanga also spoke at the event.
The State Minister said oceans are the homes of opportunities and they are both engines for global economic growth and key sources of food security.
He said sustainable harnessing in the Indian Ocean through coordination and joint efforts of the countries in the region can make a groundbreaking impact on socio-economic development creating jobs and opportunities for livelihoods.
Doing so offers the possibility of generating new sustainable pathways to rebuild economies recovering from the effects of the global pandemic and sudden economic shock, said the State Minister.
âHowever, we shouldnât lose focus that the oceans are coming under increased pressure from population growth, abuse of waters, and global competition for raw materials, food demand, water scarcity, maritime security threats, climate change and marine pollution,â Shahriar said.
He said these multiple challenges and other geo-economic and geo-strategic factors require an integrated response and an urgent transition of the world economy towards a sustainable, inclusive and resource efficient path through adopting the concept of blue economy.
This yearâs theme of the Indian Ocean Conference is âIndian Ocean: Ecology, Economy, and Epidemic.â
He mentioned that Bangladesh economy has proved to be rather resilient to the shocks brought about by Covid-19 despite the global economic downturn.
In early October this year, the World Bank had forecast that Bangladesh's gross domestic product (GDP) would grow by 6.4% in the 2021-22 fiscal year. The government, however, has set a 7.2% growth target for the current fiscal year.
The State Minister said Covid-19 has put up inconsistent hindrances for cross national movements and it has posed new threats in international trade and people to people contact.
âWe, the nation significantly dependent on cross-border trade and man power exports, have become vulnerable to such unequal restrictions. Bangladesh as an ardent proponent of safe and orderly migration urges the Indian Ocean countries to form a unified voice to break the shackles of unusual political puzzles,â Shahriar said.
He said the challenges created by Covid-19, concerns over future pandemics, supply chain over-dependencies, mobility disruptions â have all brought to the fore new challenges of an interconnected world. They have also focused our attention on building capacities at home.
âTo make our efforts stronger, thereâs no alternative to sharing and collaborating our experiences and expertise,â Shahriar said.
The pandemic is a global phenomenon; therefore, he said it necessitates coordinated global response.
The State Minister mentioned that Bangladesh Parliament declared climate change to be a âplanetary emergencyâ and called on the world to work âon a war footingâ to combat it and reduce its impacts.
âWeâve formed Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) for climate change adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk reduction. Weâre going to implement the âMujib Climate Prosperity Planâ to achieve low carbon economic growth for optimized prosperity and partnership,â he said.
The State Minister said the time has come to go for a sustainable approach and nature-based solution for coastal risk reduction.â It would be a great measure to combat the uncertain climate change.â