The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Saturday said Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is increasingly shifting its focus towards nutrition security and food exports. The FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 aims to support the 2030 Agenda by working together for transforming agrifood systems to be more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable, addressing better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind. FAO concluded the year with an insightful information meeting attended by resource partners, government stakeholders, UN agencies, and media representatives. The meeting shared progress and success of FAO Bangladesh office centered around FAO's commitment to four key pillars: better production, better nutrition, better environment, better life, living no one behind. Bangladesh and FAO have been working closely in developing the areas of agriculture, food, forestry, fisheries, livestock, rural development and climate change for over 45 years. At the meeting, the FAO experts provided information on various topics, some of which: sustainably increasing productivity in agriculture, fisheries, and forestry; fostering inclusive and resilient agrifood systems in a changing climate and environment; increasing food security and community self-sufficiency; promoting healthy and safe food supply; improving food distribution and reducing food loss and waste; protecting and restoring terrestrial and marine ecosystems; increasing incomes of small-scale food producers; guiding government expenditures towards the agriculture sector; securing land tenure by promoting ownership or strengthened rights over agricultural land; gender equality development. Read: UNIDO adopts Bangladesh's resolution on capacity building for sustainable supply chains unanimously FAO Representative ad interim in Bangladesh Arnoud Hameleers said in his speech “As we work towards our goal, the better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind, we express our gratitude to our resource partners, government counterparts and colleagues for their continuous support.” Some of the Progress and Achievements: - 15 projects implemented for innovation for sustainable agriculture production- Strengthening rural aquaculture and empowering coastal fishing communities- Bangladesh Animal Health Intelligence System (BAHIS) established nationwide- Sustainable rabies control achieved through DGHS national mass dog vaccination programme- Launch of the Dhaka Food Agenda 2041, foresight and scenarios of the main urban food system of the country- 130 markets supported, 16 weekly farmers markets created, 6 500 urban agriculturalists trained and supported with inputs- A farmers market has been constructed in Dhaka and linked safe vegetables and fruit production producers with the marker to encourage safe food production and marketing- 8 nutrition-smart villages across 8 Divisions established- 16 000 hectares of land under climate-resilient agriculture practices and technologies- 32 000 farmers trained on climate-resilient agriculture through 800 farmer field schools- 7 eco-friendly farming practices for sustainable coastal wetland management designed and implemented- Bangladesh forest inventory institutionalized and 100 forest department staff trained- Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) roadmap prepared to fast track the implementation of Paris Agreement in Bangladesh- Flash flood anticipatory action trigger and protocol drafted for Haor region- Strengthened the capacity of more than 100 government officials in the fisheries sector- 89% of women’s loan applications to external financial institutions were approved by the lender- Flood affected 33 000 farmers from 23 upazilas are being supported by seeds, fertilizers and other inputs in four districts - Rangamati, Bandarban, Chattogram and Cox’s Bazaar- Anticipatory Action trigger developed and plans for the Haor region to reduce damage and loss due to flash flood- Farmers in 44 upazilas under 6 districts supported with seeds with farming inputs- Supported government of to prepare a Bangladesh action plan developed to control fall armyworm in line with global action plan- Supported the government to prepare a strategic plan for agro-processing
A Bangladesh-sponsored resolution on "strengthening Member States' capacities in developing productive, resilient and sustainable supply chains," has been unanimously adopted by the 20th General Conference of the UN Industrial Development Organization, UNIDO, in Vienna. Heads of government, ministers, and high-level delegations from 172 member states of UNIDO are participating in this week-long conference. The global supply chain experienced a massive disruption due to the Covid pandemic and the Ukraine war, which affected producers, industries, and consumers across the world, said a media release on Saturday. This resolution would allow UNIDO, which works more closely with the private sector than perhaps any other arm of the UN, to help countries and economies to promote supply chain resilience and thus prepare them for any such future situation. Read: A fraction of BNP resorted to arson attacks, blockades despite many of its leaders participating in polls: Ministry of Foreign Affairs The resolution will also foster the necessary dialogue among relevant stakeholders and delivering concrete actions to ensure the sustainability, resilience, and productivity of global and regional supply chains, with a specific emphasis on supporting producer countries and suppliers. This resolution will enable UNIDO to build its own capacity towards ensuring its fair participation in the supply chain, by equitable profit sharing among all the stakeholders which will contribute to secure fair price, skill and knowledge transfer. As well as access to market and technology, and productivity to the participating firms from the developing countries. The resolution on the supply chain tabled by Bangladesh was the only resolution adopted by the General Conference through negotiation. Read: Rohingya: UNHCR calls for comprehensive regional response to address perilous maritime movements There were two other resolutions, a resolution on gender equality submitted by Mexico and Norway and another one on environmental sustainability and circular economy submitted by Armenia, which could not be adopted due to the acute differences in positions/views among the member states. The Bangladesh delegation, through its unwavering efforts over the last four weeks, succeeded in bringing all the member states on board in adopting the resolution unanimously.
A fraction of BNP resorted to arson attacks, blockades despite many of its leaders participating in polls: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
A large number of nomination papers were submitted amidst fanfare and festivity by aspiring candidates for the upcoming 12th national election, to be held on January 7, 2024. A fraction of BNP, the major opposition political party — instead of participating — has resorted to burning private and public properties, blockades, hartals, and are boycotting the upcoming election although many of its own leaders are participating, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on its verified Facebook page, posted today. Not the first time Dr. Yunus and his aides resorted to int’l lobbying in the face of legal consequences for violation of law: Foreign Ministry This update on the election front is likely to be shared with the foreign missions in Dhaka through email, a source at the ministry told UNB. The Election Commission received a total of 2,711 nomination papers against 300 constituencies across the country. Govt working proactively to counter pre-election propaganda against Bangladesh: Foreign Ministry After completion of the 15-day timeframe on November 30, 2023, candidates totalling 1,964 from 30 out of 44 registered parties submitted their nomination papers. A total of 303 candidates from Awami League, 304 from Jatiya Party, 218 from Zaker Party, 151 from Trinomul BNP, 142 from National Peoples Party, 116 from Bangladesh Congress, and others from the remaining parties submitted their nomination papers. Possibility of courtesy meeting between Hasina and Modi on the sidelines of BRICS Summit: Foreign Ministry The participation of the candidates across a wide variety of political parties with a lot of interest and enthusiasm has so far been a hallmark of the free, fair and transparent election process which the Election Commission is committed to, according to the ministry of foreign affairs. Additionally, it said, a staggering 747 candidates submitted their nomination papers as independent candidates, including around 33 former BNP MPs and leaders. "This also highlights the participatory nature of the upcoming elections." The nomination papers will be scrutinized on December 1-4, 2023, and candidatures can be withdrawn by December 17, 2023. The schedule for the 12th national parliamentary election was announced by Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal on November 15, 2023.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has made an urgent appeal to all countries in the region, particularly those in the area surrounding the Andaman Sea, to swiftly deploy their full search and rescue capacities in response to reported vessels in distress with hundreds of Rohingya at risk of perishing. UNHCR reiterated its call for a comprehensive regional response to address these perilous maritime movements. Since 2022 until today more than 570 people including Rohingya refugees have been reported as dead or missing at sea. The UN Refugee Agency warned again that many more might die under the watch of many coastal States, without timely rescue and disembarkation to the nearest place of safety. Read: Rohingya man killed in clash between ARSA and RSO in Cox’s Bazar While all details are not fully known, UNHCR has received reports from various sources of a distress situation at sea, where two overcrowded boats have engine failures and are now aimlessly drifting in unseaworthy vessels in the Andaman Sea. Weather conditions over the coming days are unpredictable with cyclones being an unfortunate, but real, possibility. Combined, the two boats carry approximately 400 individuals, said the UN refugee agency on Saturday. Another boat with 150 Rohingya was reported to have arrived in Sabang, an island north of Aceh early Saturday morning. Many more are reported to be still in distress in the open sea. Read: Prolonged presence of Rohingya refugees not an option: Bangladesh tells UN UNHCR is concerned that food and water may be running out and there is a significant risk of fatalities in the coming days if people are not rescued and disembarked to safety. In line with the principle of non-refoulement, international obligations under the Laws of the Sea and longstanding maritime traditions, the duty to rescue persons in distress at sea must be upheld, irrespective of nationality or legal status of the persons in need of rescue. UNHCR commended Indonesia for respecting its international commitments by allowing more than 1,000 individuals to disembark since 14 November. Read: EU “sustaining its support” to Rohingya crisis, says Ambassador Whiteley Indonesia's example of solidarity and humanity needs to be followed by other States in the region. UNHCR and partners stand ready to support in providing any necessary humanitarian assistance for those disembarked, said the UN refugee agency.
Bangladesh has won the 175-member International Maritime Organization (IMO) council election 2023 held in London at the IMO headquarters in category C, securing 128 votes. This is for the first time Bangladesh has won the election in the highly competitive category C of the IMO. Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK and Permanent Representative to the IMO, Saida Muna Tasneem, said Bangladesh’s election to the International Maritime Organisation’s elite 40-member council is a testimony of the confidence and trust that the IMO member states and the international maritime community place on Bangladesh’s leadership as a maritime nation and action led by the prudent leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The high commissioner expressed her gratitude to the IMO members for electing Bangladesh as a Council member and reaffirmed Bangladesh’s commitment to IMO’s charter of actions for dealing with the maritime. She also expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Shipping of Bangladesh and especially thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her bold decision to compete in the IMO council election in 2023. Earlier, Saida Muna Tasneem was elected by consensus vice president of the 33rd assembly of the IMO during which the election took place. IMO is the only UN specialised body that regulates global shipping standards that affects ship operating flag states, seafarers, and maritime safety, security and marine pollution. Bangladesh among countries contesting for IMO Council on Dec 1 Bangladesh’s international trade, of which 90 percent is operated by the sea, and transition of Bangladesh’s maritime ports into green, digitalised and smarter ports, and Bangladesh’s compliance with the Hong Kong convention on ship recycling usage of greener fuels, and other critically important issues to Bangladesh’s shipping and maritime industry are some of the key issues that Bangladesh would be negotiating at the IMO council during the term 2024-25, according to Bangladesh High Commission in London. The Assembly of the International Maritime Organization elected the members of its Council for the 2024-2025 biennium on December 1. The Council is the executive organ of IMO and is responsible, under the Assembly, for supervising the work of the organization. Bangladesh elected Vice President of IMO Assembly Between sessions of the Assembly, the Council performs the functions of the Assembly, except that of making recommendations to governments on maritime safety and pollution prevention. The Assembly of the International Maritime Organization elected the following states to be members of the Council for the 2024-2025 biennium: Category (a) 10 States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services (listed in alphabetical order): China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Norway, Panama, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States. Category (b) 10 States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates Category (c) 20 States not elected under (a) or (b) above, which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world: Bahamas, Bangladesh, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Türkiye.
The European Union has said the authorities in Bangladesh should increase the pace of implementing its commitments on labour rights included in the National Action Plan (NAP) and ILO roadmap, and continue to report regularly on progress achieved in line with the timelines provided with respect to key concerns. “Thanks to progress achieved in ratifying ILO Conventions in recent years, Bangladesh has ratified all the 27 GSP+ international conventions referred to in the GSP Regulation,” said the EU. Full compliance with the GSP+ relevant international conventions should also be seen in light of the expected future graduation of Bangladesh from LDC status, which would imply moving from the 'Everything But Arms' (EBA) arrangement to standard GSP, according to an evaluation report released by the European Commission. In this context, it is important that Bangladesh can demonstrate that it meets its obligations under the GSP regulation, in particular as mentioned above, the labour rights reforms under the National Action Plan and respecting international human rights standards. The EU will continue to closely monitor the implementation of Bangladesh’s GSP commitments, and will foster the ongoing engagement. With respect to the key concerns on human rights, Bangladesh should improve freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and civil society space; investigate cases of alleged torture, ill-treatment, extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances; fully implement the recommendations of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) including with respect to the abolition of the death penalty, as well as the conclusions of UN treaty monitoring bodies, according to Bangladesh section of the report on “EU Enhanced Engagement with three Everything But Arms beneficiary countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia and Myanmar.” This is the second joint Staff Working Document (SWD) dedicated to enhanced engagement with three GSP beneficiary countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia and Myanmar. Enhanced engagement started in 2017 with these three beneficiary countries under the EBA arrangement in the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) and has not been extended to other EBA beneficiaries so far. Bangladesh remains by far the most important beneficiary of the EBA arrangement in terms of exports to the EU. EBA preferences have contributed significantly to the country’s remarkable economic growth and associated social progress over the past decades. The economic performance in terms of GDP growth continued to be positive in the period 2020 to 2022 despite the COVID-19 pandemic (contrary to many other GSP beneficiaries). Bangladesh met the (Least Developed Country) LDC graduation criteria in 2018 and 2021 and is now scheduled to graduate from LDC status in 2026, having been granted an exceptional 5-year transition period by the UN due to challenges stemming from the pandemic. Graduation from LDC status will also imply exit from the EBA arrangement three years later according to the current GSP Regulation. The EU’s share of Bangladesh’s exports reached 51.8% in 2022, making the EU the most important export market by far.
To confront the intertwined challenge of climate change and food security, Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, announced today that the US will contribute US$50 million to the Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS), a new multi-donor trust fund hosted by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The VACS initiative is aimed at boosting agricultural productivity and improved nutrition in rural communities of developing countries by better adapting crops and soils to the changing climate. In expressing gratitude for the US State Department’s robust and timely support, IFAD's President Alvaro Lario said: "The initiative aligns with our mission to provide the funds and technology needed to strengthen climate adaptation and empower small-scale food producers and rural communities to lead their own development. Adaptation is no longer a choice but a necessity." Small-scale food producers and small agribusiness received a mere 0.8% of all climate finance, despite their cornerstone role underpinning global food systems, producing one-third of the world’s food. The US announcement is well-received news following the recent release of new data by the Climate Policy Initiative, revealing a 44% drop in adaptation funds during 2019-2020, despite an overall increase in climate finance, dedicated mostly to mitigation activities. VACS is a vital response to the expected 50% increase in global food demand by 2050; compounded by natural resource scarcity, a growing population reaching 10 billion, progressive urbanization and changing diets requiring larger amounts of resources like water, land, and feed to produce. The challenging scenario is further disrupted by evermore frequent and intense extreme weather events that hinder food production. Case studies commissioned by IFAD on climate change impacts on a range of staple and cash crops in eight Southern African countries show that crop yields could drop by up to 80% in some cases. VACS employs an innovative above-ground/below-ground approach to boost productivity and nutritional quality. Above-ground efforts concentrate on developing resilient and nutritious crop varieties through plant breeding and addressing challenges like pest resistance and erratic rainfall patterns. Below-ground activities optimize land use and advance soil management, including practices such as crop rotation, conservation tillage to reduce soil erosion, and using organic fertilizers like compost or biochar. This holistic strategy will lead to more productive crops, built-in resilience against extreme weather, reduced reliance on costly inputs like fertilizers, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. As the host of the VAC’s multi-donor trust fund, IFAD sees an opportunity to scale- up impacts through similar interventions throughout its programs, empowering farmers through access to proven technology and knowledge to improve crop production.
A reception was hosted at Baridhara on November 29, 2023, to mark the 105th Independence Day of Romania. Enayetullah Khan, Honorary Consul of Romania in Bangladesh and Editor-in-Chief of UNB and Dhaka Courier, hosted the reception at his residence. At the beginning, Khan highlighted the growing relations between Bangladesh and Romania and the importance of the month of December that is coming, noting that Bangladesh achieved Victory on December 16. A moment of silence was observed in memory of people who sacrificed their life to achieve the independence of Bangladesh. Renowned scholar-diplomat and former Advisor on Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Caretaker Government Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury also spoke at the reception.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other Bangladeshi government officials frequently emphasised Bangladesh’s zero-tolerance policy on terrorism and continued to deny the presence of globally organised jihadist militant groups such as al-Qa’ida and ISIS, said a new report released by the US government on Friday. In 2022, Bangladesh experienced few instances of terrorist violence as authorities continued to pursue militants rigorously, particularly al-Qa’ida-affiliated groups, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB), and an ISIS-affiliated JMB offshoot, Neo-JMB, according to Bangladesh part of the "Country Reports on Terrorism 2022." In October, Bangladesh authorities announced operations to disrupt Jama’atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya (JAHS), an allegedly al-Qa’ida inspired group. U.S.-trained Bangladesh police units arrested dozens of terrorist suspects. Kissinger should have apologised to people of Bangladesh for his role in 1971: Momen tells WION In October the Bangladeshi counterterrorism Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) announced operations to disrupt JAHS, an allegedly al-Qa’ida-inspired group training in the Chittagong Hill Tracts to carry out attacks elsewhere, according to Bangladeshi authorities. Authorities alleged that JAHS cooperated with the Kuki-Chin National Front, an ethnic separatist militant organization. Authorities announced the arrest of dozens of JAHS members throughout the rest of the year. Bangladeshi exporters are dynamic, says Momen underplaying worry about US labour policy On November 20, militants freed Moinul Hasan Shamim and Abu Siddiq Sohel, both convicted for their role in the 2015 murder of Bangladeshi publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan, in an attack on the Dhaka Chief Judicial Magistrate building. Authorities charged 20 suspected members of banned al-Qa’ida-affiliate Ansar al-Islam with helping plan and/or execute the escape. The freed convicts remained at large at the end of 2022. Radicalization to violence and terrorist recruitment in the prison system remained a serious concern, said the report. The CTTCU and Dhaka University began to develop a unified deradicalization from violence program to be implemented in select Bangladeshi prisons in 2023. Ambassador Haas, Foreign Secretary Masud discussed ‘ongoing developments,’ says US Embassy Dhaka North, Dhaka South, and Narayanganj are members of the Strong Cities Network. International and Regional Cooperation: Bangladesh was active in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s activities in the CT arena, said the report. US may take any measure with the excuse of labor issues, politics: Bangladesh Embassy letter The Department of State issued the 2022 Country Reports on Terrorism (CRT) each year. The CRT provides insight on important issues in the fight against terrorism and helps the United States make informed decisions about policies, programs, and resource allocations as we seek to build counterterrorism capacity and resilience around the globe. As the United States confronts a diverse and dynamic range of national security challenges, the U.S. government is deploying the full range of CT tools to ensure a sustainable whole-of-government and whole-of-society CT approach with allies and partners around the world, said the Spokesperson at the US Department of State.
The United Nations has said they do not deploy observers to elections like Bangladesh one, noting that they rarely do that without a specific mandate. "The UN is not deploying observers to these elections. We don't… we rarely, rarely do that without a specific mandate," Spokesman for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric told reporters at a regular briefing on November 29. Also read: 12th National Election: 2,741 nomination forms submitted for 300 constituencies He said they have seen the reports from Human Rights Watch and other organisations. "We again call on all parties involved to ensure that people are able to express their votes freely, their opinion freely, free of any harassment,” the spokesman said. Candidates of 30 political parties out of 44 registered political parties have submitted nomination papers for the January 7 national election. Also read: EU wants to see credible, participatory elections in Bangladesh