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India, BD need to work together to save Sundarban: Experts

Published : Wednesday, 28 February, 2018 at 12:00 AM  Count : 807
Banani Mallick

Environment experts and academics from India and Bangladesh pitched for a joint effort to save the Sundarban, which spreads across parts of both the countries and is under acute threat of climate change.
They noted that both Bangladesh and India have to work together to save the Sundarban and its people from the clutches of possible climatic disasters.
They made this comment at a three-day Media Strategy Programme from February 23 to 26 , titled, " Climate Change Impact on Sundarban. An Interface" organised by the Environment Governed Integrated Organisation ( EnGIO), a non-government organisation  in association with  The Third Pole and ORF- India under a World Bank supported programme.
The programme was participated by a group of Indian and Bangladeshi journalists to exchange their views to conserve the Sundarban.
They also expressed the need for the protection of the 30,000 sqkm area of the Sundarban, roughly  two-thirds of which are in Bangladesh and the remaining in India.
The Sundarban is the only global mangrove habitat for tigers whose conservation is crucial for both India and Bangladesh.
At present, the tans-boundary initiative has been on for the last few years to conserve the Sundarban particularly from the impacts of climate change.
As a part of that initiative implementation of a media strategy is on to highlight the critical agendas pertaining to the trans-boundary Sundarban, particularly the climate change triggered impact on the region.
Experts from both countries noted that joint working group like an agreement of 2011 on the Sundarban already exits, so both the countries should start the work jointly without any delay.
"Both of the Sundarban's environmental concerns do not have a boundary and we must rise to the occasion," Eminent journalist Jayanto Basu, from the Telegraph Newspaper, based in Kolkata said this while talking to the Daily Observer.
Referring to the trans-boundary efforts undertaken to save the Mekong and Rhine rivers, he also noted that India and Bangladesh could likewise take a joint initiative.
When asked what significant steps could play an important role, he said many efforts are needed from different stakeholders from both the countries.
"Academics, representatives of civil society, experts, media personalities and local people's active cooperation and support are needed to preserve the Sundarban," he added.
Stressing on political will, he said the involvement of political leaders from India and Bangladesh is important because they will finally help in taking steps for conserving the Sundarban.
"The most important aspect is exchanging of information between both the countries.  Like the frequency of storms, the extent of salinity, the adverse impact of climate change and discovery of local adaptation, everything surrounding the Sundarban should be shared between experts of both the countries," he said.
 Once sharing the information is completed then the next steps should be further discussion.
The Sundarban is a vast forest in the coastal region of the Bay of Bengal and considered one of the natural wonders of the world.
It was recognised in 1997 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bangladesh, which is being threatened by the adverse impact of climate change.
The plan has been prepared by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) and Bangladesh-based Policy Research Institute (PRI). All three are members of a trans-boundary consortium, Bangladesh India Sundarban Region Cooperation initiative (BI-RCI), which also has four other organisations from India and Bangladesh and is supported by the World Bank.
The Media Strategy programme has taken place in Bangladesh at the time when Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had recently urged the two countries to use the Sundarban's success as a benchmark to resolve other outstanding issues.
She also noted that the Sundarban is not only a heritage for Bangladesh, it is also important for the country's existence.
Some of the experts noted that understating of the existing challenges of the Sundarban's eco system, biodiversity, suffering of the local people and other issues should be figured out and also conduct various researches for possible remedies.
Harjeet Singh, International Climate Policy Manager for ActionAid, based in New Delhi, also one of participants of the media event, said that the LDCs countries need to make a lot of pressure in the international systems.
Bangladesh and India should have their own way in finding the issues and come out with solution.
"A structured government support is very much required in this regard to address the problems of the Sundarban. I mean government needs to be more proactive and supportive. For example, arranging training and giving loans to the farmers (victim of climate change) in the Sundarban should be ensured," he said.
 According to an IPCC (Inter-govermental Panel for Climate Change) report, Calcutta will top the list of Asian cities vulnerable to climate change by 2070, closely followed by Dhaka.
According to the documents, the Sundarban had experienced 90 cyclones, 35 of them severe, in the 20th century.

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