Second Generation Climate Action in Bangladesh

By Rishikesh Ram Bhandary

Over the last three weeks, I have been meeting with officials and experts to discuss climate finance in Bangladesh. In this brief blog post, I will provide a brief snapshot of the recent developments that have been taking place.

Bangladesh is going through an important transition. In many ways, the first generation of climate action is giving way to the next generation of deeper and broader policies and actions. In this post, I will highlight three aspects: planning and implementation, institutional arrangements, and finance-related issues.

The first generation of climate action revolved around the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) which was launched in 2009. For example, both of the climate funds, the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund and the Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund, have aligned their projects with the thematic areas identified in the plan. As the BBCSAP was envisioned as a ten-year plan, officials are now busy doing reviews to identify areas where improvements can be made and how synergies and overlaps can be worked out other planning processes such as the nationally determined contribution (NDC), and the national adaptation plan (NAP). A consistent observation made by many people is the need for a more actionable plan that has financial details worked out.

There are also a number of activities that are being undertaken that will inform the planning processes. The government is also planning on conducting a vulnerability analysis, at the district level, for the entire country. An inclusive budgeting and financing for resilience framework is being developed. And, a climate transparency mechanism is also in the works.

Likewise, the nationally determined contribution of Bangladesh (NDC), is being translated into greater concreteness by developing sectoral mitigation action plans in a quantified form. The three areas are: power, transportation, and industry. These sectoral action plans will be supported by an overarching implementation roadmap.

Accessing international finance

The Economic Relations Division has been designed as the National Designated Authority of the Green Climate Fund. The NDA secretariat is being strengthened and staff capacity has been increased to five people. The NDA is hopeful that at least one of the nominated entities will achieve national implementing entity status by the end of the year. The NIE status would allow for the entity to directly access funds from the GCF without having to go through an an intermediary organization.

International partners are providing support to bolster capacity. For example, an accreditation gap readiness analysis is going on to support LGED. Similarly, the DOE is also being provided with support to improve fiduciary standards.

The six entities that have received nominations are:

a.      Bangladesh Bank

b.      IDCOL (Stage 2)

c.       Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund

d.      Department of Environment, Ministry of Environment and Forests (Stage 1)

e.      PKSF (Stage 2)

f.        Local Government Engineering Department (LGED)

One of the first GCF projects awarded was to Bangladesh with KfW as implementing entity together with the Local Government Engineering Department. This project will focus on flood and storm protection in coastal areas.

At the last board meeting of the GCF, the proposal by UNDP (as the implementing entity) and Ministry of Women and Child Affairs was taken up. The Board has asked for revisions and will the proposal will be considered in due time.

Greater engagement from the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Planning.

The Seventh Five Year Plan of Bangladesh (2015/2016-2019/2020) is informed by the BCCSAP. With such close alignment, this plan pushes the envelope of climate mainstreaming compared to earlier plans. There are other supporting elements that are provide the plan with some teeth.

For example, in what has been described as a major breakthrough in mainstreaming climate change into development planning, the Planning Commission introduced changes in Development Project Proforma/Proposal with explicit guidance on incorporating climate risks. The DPP is a key element of the public expenditure process and the incorporation of climate risks in the formulation of this document could play a major role in forging a climate resilient development path.

This post would be remiss if it did not mention the substantial amount of research and knowledge generation and exchange taking place as well. The research community and civil society writ large are vibrant in Bangladesh. One example is Gobeshona- an initiative that brings together research on climate change and has ambitions of connecting and networking with other actors around the world. The third conference was held just a while ago in January 2017.

           

Rishi with Dipal Barua, CEO of Bright Green Energy Foundation.

Rishi with Dipal Barua, CEO of Bright Green Energy Foundation.