Environmental experts at a symposium in Dhaka yesterday stressed introducing ecosystem-based approaches in the country’ s coastal regions to cope with the climate change impacts and make the coastal communities climate-resilient ones.
Coastal communities in many parts of Asia, including Bangladesh, are particularly vulnerable to climate change, with increased severity of extreme wealth events directly affecting their lives and resources, they said.
The experts said healthy coastal ecosystems, including healthy mangrove forests, play a vital role in helping the coastal communities adapt to climate change, and ecosystem-based approaches can make a major contribution to the coastal community resilience.
The Mangroves For the Future (MFF) in collaboration with IUCN project-- Ecosystems for Life: A Bangladesh-India Initiative-- organized the two-day regional symposium on Coastal Community Resilience at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the capital, aiming to obtain knowledge from other countries in South and Southeast Asia and share lessons and practical solutions for tackling complex coastal issues.
Environment and Forests Minister Anwar Hossain Manju, Environment and Forests Secretary Shafiqur Rahman Patwari, chief conservator of forests Yunus Ali, IUCN country representative Ishtiaq Uddin Ahmad and MFF senior adviser Dr Don Macintosh, spoke at the inaugural session of the symposium.
Anwar Hossain Manju said understanding how people living in coastal communities cope with climate-related hazards and other problems can help the policymakers design more proactive and comprehensive policies to support coastal communities’ resilience in the future.
Emphasizing coastal management, he said about two million tonnes of silt falls in the Bay of Bengal each year which may create another Bangladesh-size landmass.
Addressing the first technical session, climate change expert Dr Atiq Rahman said Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change because the country will face many more extreme events like flood, cyclone, erosion, storm surge, drought and erratic rainfall in the future.
Mokhlesur Rahman, executive director of the Centre for Natural Resource Study, said natural ecosystems such as wetlands, coastal zone and forests are highly sensitive to change in climate factors and get affected with reduced ability to deliver ecosystem services to support biodiversity and livelihoods.
Building coastal resilience is a priority as many coastal communities in Bangladesh and other Asian countries are particularly vulnerable to natural hazards, such as storms, floods and droughts, and to climate change.
The MFF National Coordinating Body (NCB) of Bangladesh and the MFF Regional Secretariat organized the symposium to share experiences among Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Viet Nam on how to build coastal community resilience using ecosystem-based approaches. The symposium is followed by a field visit to Satkhira, a coastal district.
It will provide a platform for multi-stakeholder and multi-country dialogue on a broad spectrum of issues related to coastal community resilience and trans-boundary water resources management.
It is also working to improve governance and management of coastal resources by promoting models of co-management, Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) and similar resource-sharing mechanisms that will benefit traditional coastal communities in the three countries.
Dr Don Macintosh said one of the key objectives of MFF is to disseminate scientific and local knowledge on coastal resources management that will support national to regional policies aimed at building resilience among the vulnerable coastal communities of Asia.
“Today’s symposium is an appropriate platform for MFF countries to learn from each other,” he added.
Climate Change Ecosystem-based approaches in coastal belts stressed