Symposium on climate change and food security
Chief adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed stressed regional and global cooperation in his closing address to an international symposium on climate change and food security, which concluded Saturday with the signing of the Dhaka Symposium Declaration.
Calling climate change a global issue, the chief adviser called for cooperative measures among neighbouring countries to reduce the impact of natural disasters and help adapt to foreseeable changes.
"We must take comprehensive and integrated steps to combat the adverse effects of global warming on food security."
Iceland's visiting president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, as guest speaker, also highlighted the global perspective, calling for international dialogue on the security implications of climate change.
Dhaka University, Ohio State University, the World Meteorological Organisation, UNESCAP, and the Food and Agriculture Oragnisation jointly organised the six-day 'International Symposium on Climate Change and Food Security in South Asia'.
"Bangladesh is particularly vulnerable to climate change given its geography. As a low lying mega-delta with three large river systems accompanied by heavy rainfall, floods have become an annual calamity," said the chief adviser.
He urged the world community, particularly high greenhouse gas emitters, to come forward in tackling the effects of climate change so that the worst affected countries could cope with the impact and maintain food security.
"The greatest challenge Bangladesh faces is lifting some 50 million people out of poverty with adequate food, shelter, drinking water and health care," he said.
Fakhruddin also mentioned the consecutive floods and last year's Cyclone Sidr that threatened the agricultural base of the country's economy and availability of food and nutrition for the people.
"This ... challenge is made all the more difficult for Bangladesh because global warming has already started to affect food production, helping to raise food deficits over the last two decades," the chief adviser added.
"The melting of the Himalayan glaciers and huge sediments carried by the rivers coupled with restricted drainage further worsen the situation," he said.
Iceland's visiting president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson said that every state should be a constructive partner in a global dialogue on the security implications of climate change.
He also suggested extensive initiatives beyond South Asia involving the countries that depend on the Himalaya region for their water, as experts predict that glaciers of the region were likely to disappear over the next 40-70 years.
Grimsson said his country was also witnessing the alarming effects of climate change as the largest glaciers in Europe were located in Iceland.
But, he added, his country could also serve as an inspiration of how to tackle and prevent adverse climate change through a comprehensive transformation of energy systems.
"We have transformed the Icelandic economy from being predominantly dependent on fossil fuel into a world leader in the production and consumption of clean energy," he said.
Grimsson pointed out: "If four pillars of modern society – scientific communities, governments, business sectors and civic associations can unite and combine their resources we can build the foundations for enormous success."
"We therefore need a similar call to action, a visionary collaboration between brilliant minds accompanied by an invitation to all concerned citizens to become involved, to be heard and counted," he said.
The key recommendations of the Dhaka Symposium Declaration include: establishing a Climate Change and Food Security Network in South Asia, strengthening existing regional and policy instruments and identifying multi-disciplinary approaches and innovative financial measures to effect adaption options.
The closing ceremony, held at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel on Saturday, was chaired by Dhaka University vice chancellor SMA Faiz.
FAO's Asia and the Pacific regional representative Changchui He, FAO country representative Ad Spijkers, commerce adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman, and the chief adviser's special assistant in charge of environment and forests Raja Devashish Roy also spoke on the occasion.