British politician Alok Sharma, set to preside over COP26, visited Bangladesh recently and discussed shared priorities with Bangladesh, which he said remains a "crucial" partner on the road to COP26.
He discussed the needs of countries most vulnerable to climate change, to ensure they are equipped to deal with its current and damaging effects ahead of COP26.
The COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference, hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy, will take place from October 31, 2021 in the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow, UK.
The COP26 President-Designate also welcomed strong climate commitments from Bangladesh during his visit.
“The next decade will be make, or break, for our planet, and effective global collaboration will be vital to tackling the pressing challenges the world faces. So I am delighted to have witnessed UK-Bangladeshi climate partnership in action, and heard such positive ambition from my Bangladeshi friends," he said.
“I am inspired by the innovative work I have seen here to address some of the worst effects of climate change, and hope that Bangladesh will continue to lead by example ahead of COP26 which is our best hope of building a brighter future.”
The COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma also visited Sundarbans on June 3 this year.
He visited the WildTeam Conservation Biology Centre (WCBC) in the Sundarbans.
The British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Robert Chatterton Dickson, and his other colleagues from the UK accompanied them.
During his visit he came to know about WildTeam’s pioneering work with the Forest Department in Tiger Conservation through engaging the local communities. The tiger population has rebounded slightly - at least the decline has been halted.
The number rose to 114 in 2018, up from 106 recorded in 2015.
Mr Sharma met with the Village Tiger Response Team (VTRT) members, and the TigerScouts. In 2007 WildTeam formed the VTRT by engaging the communities for managing human-tiger conflict. WildTeam also formed BaghBandhus (tiger ambassadors) to improve community engagement and raise awareness within the community.
WildTeam, with the support from USAID's Bagh Activity, started Sundarbans Education Centres in five schools around the Sundarbans. With their support TigerScouts were formed with secondary school students from the Sundarbans villages, to educate school children to build an environment friendly future generation.
Mr Sharma, along with the TigerScouts, planted a 'sundari' sapling at WCBC's 'mini Sundarbans'. It is believed that Sundarbans has been named after the 'sundari' (Heritiera fomes) tree that propagates through the forest. The British High Commissioner also planted a sapling.
WildTeam built WCBC with the support of IUCN-KfW to engage the communities to manage the natural resources in a sustainable way. Due to increasing salinity, there is an acute shortage of drinking water in the area.
WildTeam, with the support from a philanthropist, built a desalination plant at WCBC premises. The VIP guest visited the plant, and witnessed how local people left containers to collect sweet water from this plant.
During his visit to Bangladesh Mr Sharma met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and other government ministers, and youths to discuss climate issues. A joint statement on UK-Bangladesh climate action was signed, which is a foundation for a long-term climate partnership. It is understood that the climate talks will be the biggest international summit the UK has ever hosted, bringing together over 30,000 delegates including heads of state, climate experts and campaigners to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change.
The COP26 president ended his 2-day Bangladesh visit by saying:
“The next decade will be make, or break, for our planet, and effective global collaboration will be vital to tackling the pressing challenges the world faces. So I am delighted to have witnessed UK-Bangladeshi climate partnership in action, and heard such positive ambition from my Bangladeshi friends.”