A comprehensive plan to face up to climate change

Climate change is at the doorstep of Bangladesh although its impact in large measures are yet to be felt by this country. But experts are in consensus now that the effects could start telling on this country sooner rather than later. This prediction is from monitoring the speedier melting of ice in the glacial regions even in the ones near to it such as the Himalayas. Thus, the best advice to Bangladesh from the climate observers is that it should take no chance and start in right earnest–immediately–the various actions needed in different spheres as coping strategies against climate change.
Finance and Planning Minister AMA Muhith made a suggestion at an international conference in Dhaka sometime ago that each ministry should have a climate change expert in its budgeting and planning cells. Clearly, this is an indication that the government is more concerned and wants to be active to start work on the ways and means of safeguarding against climatic change. The coping strategies cannot be implemented in isolation. The works to be undertaken to this end would be overlapping in nature covering several ministries.
Thus, each ministry will need to know what it would be expected to do individually and in concert with the others to contribute to the main objective. This will call for proportionate budgetary preparations in line with the recommendation of climate change experts in the ministries.
For example, projections have been made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change (IPCC) (IPCC) which is a research organization guided and funded by two United Nations organisations, that production of rice may drop by 10 per cent and wheat by one-third in Bangladesh by 2050 if agriculture in this country fails to devise appropriate strategies to cope with changing climate. Of course, such coping will be all the more necessary because consumption of cereals will increase substantially with the projected further increases in the Bangladesh population.
The production of rice has fairly well matched population growth in the last three decades. But there is no assurance of maintaining this balance not even in the medium term not to speak of the long term. This is because most of the currently used varieties of rice seeds have reached their saturation point in respect of productivity ; further higher yields are not possible from the same. Therefore, the challenge is to introduce more higher yielding seeds. Not only the yield, seeds will need to be also resilient to meet drought conditions and other vagaries of weather which the IPPC is predicting for Bangladesh.
New types of seeds will have to be developed specially for cereals with shorter growing season but producing greater yields in the backdrop of changing weather patterns. Seeds may have to be developed that would grow well in saline conditions. Increasing saline water intrusion inland from the sea in Bangladesh is feared that would raise salinity in the coastal districts that would require new types of seeds to grow there resisting the salinity. Drought is also a looming possibility and seeds will also have to be developed that would withstand drought. Research will have to be relied on even for producing in the laboratory seeds that would be flood resistant or reach maturity fast to avoid the effects of greater or frequent floods from climate change.
From all these it should become clear how multi-sectoral responses will be required as coping strategies against climate change. The Agriculture ministry will have to do the basic planning about what types of new seeds are to be produced . The finance ministry will have to mobilize the necessary finances to undertake research to these ends while agencies under other ministries will have to engage in research to develop the seeds.
In the same manner, a comprehensive plan to face up to climate change will have to be readied to cover all the other sectors to be affected by such changes. The sooner this planning part and mobilsation of resources to carry out the tasks are accomplished, the best for the country’s security in all respects.


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