International gathering opens in Dhaka with call for lawmakers to play greater role in tackling climate change

14 Mar 2012

Dhaka, March 14: An international conference of parliamentarians from over 20 countries opened in Dhaka on Tuesday, with participants calling for elected representatives to play a greater role in combating the impacts of climate change at national and international levels.

The International Meeting of Parliamentarians on Climate Change: Beyond COP 17, a three-day event at Dhaka’s Radisson Blu hotel, identified climate change as one of the most significant challenges to overall human development, which could potentially offset the gains in poverty reduction, food security and equitable economic growth that the world has made in the past few decades.

Speaking at the inauguration, the chief guest, H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Hon’ble Prime Minister, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, said, “For us parliamentarians, the vulnerable people, women and children are our most important constituencies. Their concerns and needs must be taken care of in all our policies and planning. So must be our commitment to our mother earth. I am confident as people’s representatives we will not be found wanting when it comes to protecting the people whom we represent, and securing the future of humanity and our planet.”

Looking towards the upcoming Rio+20 conference on sustainable growth to be held in Brazil in June this year, H.E. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged parliamentarians to start talking about the path to ‘green and sustainable growth’ with a special focus on ‘equity, justice and human development’.

Dr. Hasan Mahmud, MP, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh spoke about the leadership role that Bangladesh has played in formulating policies to tackle climate change at the national level, and in drawing attention to the plight of the most vulnerable countries from across the globe.

Parliamentarians and international experts from Canada, Pakistan, South Africa, Costa Rica, Maldives, Philippines, Tanzania, East Africa, Mali, Samoa, Ethiopia, Nepal, Scotland, Uganda, Netherlands, Senegal, United Kingdom, India, New Zeeland, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh are participating in the conference to share their experiences and to shed light on issues that best exemplify the challenges of climate change in these countries and role that parliamentarians could play in taking a global consensus forward.

Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury, MP, Member, Standing Committee on Ministry of Environment and Forests, Bangladesh Parliament and Mr. Stefan Priesner, Country Director, UNDP Bangladesh as special guests. The meeting was presided over by Mr. Md. Abdul Hamid Advocate, Hon’ble Speaker, Bangladesh Parliament.

In a video message to the conference Mr. Al Gore, Former Vice President, USA and Nobel Laureate lauded Bangladesh’s efforts in drawing attention to the urgency with which the world must act in mitigating the impacts of climate change, but also for the leadership role the country has played in speaking for the least developed world.

The conference, which will end on March 16, is organized by the Bangladesh Parliament through the Standing Committee on the Ministry for Environment and Forests with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the project ‘Improving Democracy through Parliamentary’ (IPD).

The Hon’ble Speaker, Mr. Md. Abdul Hamid Advocate, in his speech, said members of parliament are well positioned to move this agenda forward; and so, Bangladesh Parliament wishes to promote a greater role of parliamentarians as well as substantive cooperation and alliances, as this may provide significant opportunities to influence change for the most vulnerable countries.

Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury, MP, Member, Standing Committee on Ministry of Environment and Forests, Bangladesh Parliament noted that parliamentarians had an important role in holding the executive arm of the government accountable on acting to mitigate and adapt to climate change. “Climate change is the defining challenge of our time and the most potent national security threat,” he said, adding that parliamentarians must play a role in seeing a united global response to this threat.

Mr. Stefan Priesner, Country Director of UNDP Bangladesh, said that the members of parliaments from across the world must now step forward to bring efforts to tackle climate change into the social and political mainstream. “Climate change is a classical non-partisan issue where we must seek out common interests, since our actions will determine a common future. Indeed, the parliamentarians can play the decisive role of the bridge between the world of the common man and that of academia,” he said. ENDS

UNDP Bangladesh, one of the largest country offices of the global development network has been here since 31 July, 1972. Drawing upon its global network, UNDP helps the people and Government of Bangladesh to develop their capacity to meet development challenges through initiatives that link advocacy and policy advice.

Note: A media booth will be available from 14 – 16 March 2012 at the conference venue for interviews.

 

Contact Information

For conference communications please contact: A. K. M. Fazlul Haq, National Communication Specialist, IPD Project, UNDP
via email: fazlul70@gmail.com, mob: +88 0171618734
For further information please contact: Mr. Mahtab Haider, Communications Manager, UNDP via email: mahtab.haider@undp.org, ph: +88 02 815 0088, ext. 1805, mob: +88 01713 014 604