DHAKA, Bangladesh, September 22 (IPS) – Each year, low-carbon countries like Bangladesh are the hardest hit and, paradoxically, pay the highest price in losses and damage from climate change.
The most vulnerable communities are those who are facing the reality that the COP27 climate summit in Sharm-El-Shaikh is trying to avoid. According to the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Bangladesh is expected to suffer an average loss of $ 2.2 billion annually, which is comparable to 1.5% of its GDP, due to floods.
While the Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) estimates that climate change has cost Bangladesh $ 12 billion in the last 40 years alone. This is triggering an annual decline in GDP from 0.5% to 1%, which is projected to reach 2% by 2050.
From melting glaciers to a “monster” monsoon, record floods have left a third of Pakistan currently under water and the climate catastrophe is altering the pattern of monsoons in South Asia, increasing the likelihood of fatal floods.
The entire region accounts for only a miniscule amount of carbon emissions, with Pakistan and Bangladesh generating less than 1%, but it is a “hot spot of the climate crisis” as recently noted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and in Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Therefore, it seems fitting that rich and polluting nations should pay for climate repairs to vulnerable countries for their historical injustices.
Last year I spent two weeks in Glasgow for COP26, hoping to bring positive news to the communities most affected. But sadly it was a disappointment for all marginalized individuals as their voices were ignored during the summit. Although, at least, the young people were recognized for the first time at the COP.
Yet we young people felt powerless and betrayed after COP26. Empty commitments, known as the Glasgow Climate Pact, will not protect our people from the global climate crisis.
However, giving priority to adaptation, COP26 has established a comprehensive two-year work program between Glasgow and Sharm el-Sheikh on the overall goal of adaptation. It contains an unprecedented ambition for developed countries to increase adaptation support to underdeveloped countries by 2025.
Lack of accessibility and responsibility
The adaptation community has contributed significantly, but mostly online and outside the trading rooms. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the inaccessibility of climate discussions for individuals in the global South along with systemic barriers. Disadvantaged and most affected people need to be able to participate in the COP process.
Especially since the solutions will not only come from conference rooms filled with experts, large corporations and government leaders, but they must also come from the ground.
The poorest in the world have the greatest resilience and indigenous knowledge to deal with crises. It is a way of learning by doing. We don’t know what will work, but we have to try to adapt. Only those from vulnerable communities can teach the rest of the world about climate resilience.
This worldwide catastrophe is the result of a flawed economic paradigm fueled by capitalism, European colonialism and the growing domination of powerful men. Despite recognizing the damaging consequences and viable remedies, the global community is not acting fast enough to tackle the climate crisis.
We are experiencing the same global catastrophe, but we are not in the same boat. It’s like we’re on the Titanic and Global North is in lifeboats. Millions of people are drowning in frozen water because the rich refuse to share, even though they are fully aware of the consequences. They cannot continue doing business as usual while greenwashing with empty climate summits.
An untapped resource: young people
The unprecedented mobilization, such as the global climate strike for young people around the world, demonstrates the enormous power they have to hold global climate decision makers accountable.
Youth groups have previously shown that they are capable of taking action and promoting climate issues from the front lines to the headlines. As representatives of Bangladeshi youth, we spoke on stage during COP26 to emphasize the need to make the COP accessible to young people and the need for transformative actions for a resilient future.
The involvement of children and young people in climate action is rather limited in our country. Youth at the forefront of disaster response and adaptation provide humanitarian assistance and lead adaptation initiatives as first responders. Bangladesh has just finished its second term as chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF).
While Ghana appointed a youth ambassador before taking over the presidency, Bangladesh missed the opportunity to involve young people in the CVF. However, at least it has pledged to ensure youth participation in COP25 by signing the Declaration of Children and Youth on Climate Action.
Bangladesh has already labeled the Long-Term Delta Plan (BDP 2100) – a holistic plan to integrate the activities of delta-related sectors across the country – a gift and a safeguard for future generations. But sadly it is ignoring young people in the implementation process.
Bangladesh stressed the participation of young people in national youth policy and the national adaptation plan. However, effective measures still need to be observed to involve children and young people locally, nationally and globally. The government did not allow young people to participate in the country’s delegation and negotiation processes.
Participation of young people in climate action is an undeniable element of inclusiveness. Young people must be included in decision-making processes and even in the execution of climate policies, plans and projects in collaboration with young people at all levels.
Young people are already doing their part, convening frequent discussions and lobbying, working closely with key ministries and parliamentary platforms such as the Bangladesh Climate Parliament to engage young people in the driver’s seat of climate action. The government and other development partners must reciprocate.
The need for greater inclusion
The forthcoming COP27 needs to be more inclusive. A good start is the annual pre-COP which will include a Youth COP and a “#AccountabilityCOP”. But in the run-up to the conference, there must be more young people represented in national delegations and significantly engaged in subnational, national and regional talks.
It needs to broaden access to badges and funding for young people, especially those from the global South, and allow observers to actively engage in negotiation sessions.
At present, we are concerned that COP27 will be worse than COP26. There have already been requests to relocate the headquarters from Egypt due to concerns about human rights violations as a result of the country’s civic space restriction and the lack of rights to free expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as the persecution of the different gender groups.
Human Rights Watch has already called the Egyptian presidency of COP27 a “clearly wrong choice”.
On the way to COP27, we young people will present our agenda and continue to support effective results. If global leaders play less on hypocrisy and invest more, COP27 can be a breakthrough in climate justice for vulnerable people. In addressing this catastrophe, we support climate justice for all people everywhere, which is a new frontier of human rights.
Sohanur Rahman is YouthNet’s executive coordinator for climate justice.
Source: International Politics and Society is published by the Global and European Policy Unit of the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, Hiroshimastrasse 28, D-10785 Berlin.
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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOriginal source: InterPress Service