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Bangladesh: Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change Study


Bangladesh: Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change Study

The Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change study (EACC) will inform the international community’s efforts to provide new and additional resources to developing countries through a better understanding of the global costs of adapting to climate change. It will also help decision makers at the national level to better cost, prioritize, sequence and integrate robust adaptation strategies into their development plans and budgets.

Climate Change Vulnerability in Bangladesh

With 140 million people, Bangladesh is one of the world’s densest nations and also one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. People in Bangladesh live precariously close to the risks of cyclones, floods and droughts and more than 100 million people live in rural areas.

Two-thirds of the country is less than 5 meters above sea level and in an average year, a quarter of the country is inundated. Bangladesh has experienced severe floods every 4 to 5 years that may cover more than 60 percent of the country, resulting in significant losses.

Bangladesh has achieved recent gains in the areas of economic growth and population control that could be reversed by climate change. The fourth report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that Bangladesh would experience heavier monsoons and that the melting of Himalayan glaciers will cause higher river flows and severe floods. Rainfall will become heavier and more erratic while droughts will increase in frequency.

Economic Impacts of Climate Change in Bangladesh

The poor and vulnerable in Bangladesh are constantly adjusting to climate change by raising their houses above the flood level or changing crop types. The Government of Bangladesh has invested more than $10 billion during the past 35 years to make Bangladesh less vulnerable to natural disasters.

Despite these efforts, the direct annual cost of natural disasters over the last 10 years is estimated to be between 0.5% and 1% of Bangladesh’s GDP (UNDP). The economic impacts of future climate change are expected to be larger and could even reverse the recent gains in the areas of economic growth and population control.

Bangladesh: A Leader on Climate Change

As a result of this long exposure to natural disasters, Bangladesh benefits from a long history of designing and implementing various types of adaptation activities (both policies and capital investment) especially as they pertain to floods and cyclones. Over the last three decades, the Government has invested over $10 billion (at constant 2007 prices) to make the country more climate resilient and less vulnerable to natural disasters. Since the 1970s, the Government of Bangladesh with the support of development partners, has invested in:

  • Flood management schemes to raise agricultural productivity in low lying areas
  • Flood protection and drainage in urban areas
  • Coastal embankment projects to prevent tidal flooding and incursions of saline water
  • Cyclone shelters
  • Disaster management projects.
  • Building cyclone shelters.
  • Irrigation schemes to enable dry season crop.
  • Agriculture research programs to develop saline, drought and flood adapted high yielding crop varieties.
  • Coastal ‘greenbelt’ projects.

Recognizing the increased future vulnerability of its development objectives to climate change, the Government of Bangladesh prepared the National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA) in 2005. This was followed by the adoption in 2008 of the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) prepared by the Ministry of Forests and Environment in consultation with all relevant stakeholders.

The BCCSAP is the main basis for the Government’s efforts to combat climate change over the next tens years. The plan lays out a 10-year program to build the capacity and resilience of Bangladesh to meet the challenges of a changing climate change. The plan envisions a financing need of about $5 billion during the first 5 years through 2014.

The government of Bangladesh has recently established a Climate Change Fund from its own resources with an initial capitalization of $45 million. To complement this initiative and to ensure donor harmonization, development partners in Bangladesh have agreed to establish a Multi Donor Trust Fund for Climate Change. The latter will be administered by the World Bank with a proposed initial contribution of about $100 million.

Bangladesh has also been an active participant in the international discussions on climate change and will be the leader of 47 Least Developed Countries at the 15th Conference of the parties of the UNFCCC at Copenhagen in December 2009.


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