Written by Umme Sayeda
Bangladesh is the 5th most sensitive nation globally regarding natural disasters out of 171 countries. The 6th FYP systematically included degradation of the environment and climate change into the medium-term planning procedure, identifying particular nature conservation and climate change goals and methods. Simultaneously, climate change and the dangers it poses to Bangladesh have captured the attention of governments at the highest possible level, and a much more strenuous effort is now beginning to address this long-term issue. Furthermore, Bangladesh contributes to significant international initiatives and actively participates in global debates on climate change.
The present report uncovers the domestic factors playing essential roles in shaping Bangladesh’s environmental regime-related foreign policymaking. Masud (2016) identified five influential domestic determinants in the foreign policy decision-making of Bangladesh. Hence, the five domestic factors are ideo-centric leadership, institutional factors, societal factors, ideological factors, and the influence of interest groupsi. Ideo-centric factors refer to the uniqueness of each person’s personality and perspective that leads to unprecedented leadership i. The author showed involvement of the Foreign Ministry, bureaucracy, and parliament as the institutional determinants, while public opinion and media effect are considered societal factorsi.
Moreover, the ideological factor is well-exercised in Bangladesh, demonstrating the ruling party’s ideology. The fifth factor is the interest groups such as business groups, military, weapon acquiring groups, peacekeeping groups, etci. Based on those five factors, Masud (2016) analyzed three foreign policy cases: Bangladesh’s foreign policy transformations towards the Muslim world, Look East Policy, and Pro-Indian policy. Furthermore, Jha (2011) examined the pro-Indian policy of Bangladesh since the Liberation war and illustrated what underlying factors functions in the background.
The author highlighted politics, economy-centered perception, and India locked positional fear as the primary influencersii. The study aims to do a comparative analysis of Bangladesh’s decision to actively participate in the global environmental regime based on significant domestic factors. The report does not demonstrate the foreign policy-making models of Bangladesh, and the gradual process of decision making.
Bangladesh and Climate Regimes Participation
Numerous environmental regulations and laws have been installed throughout the years, and programs and policies to adjust to and recover the negative impacts of climate. Under the 6th FYP, this progress was maintained, focusing on air and water contamination management. In addition to the legislative charter, considerable success in controlling air contamination from brick kilns and decreasing river pollution from the leather sector has bolstered the emphasis on implementation. In addition, significant efforts were made to enhance biodiversity. The general execution of current environmental rules and regulations, on the other hand, remains a challenging task.
Limited implementation progress is due to capacity limitations at the host Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, both in terms of public resources and budgetary resources. Water quality is decreasing, and air quality is worsening as well. According to a cross-country study, Bangladesh is the world’s fourth most adulterated nation in terms of air value. Bangladesh also ranks at the bottom of comparable countries in terms of forest coverage and natural habitat protection. According to indicators, Bangladesh is in the lowest 5% of 180 nations in terms of overall environment iv. These indicate that the difficulties ahead will be enormous. The Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100’s approval in September 2018 marked a significant step forward in terms of strategy and policy iii. This is an inclusive plan for addressing the hazards presented by the country’s deltaic foundation and natural catastrophes, also climate change. The Delta Plan’s rapid implementation will significantly reduce climate-related exposures and substantially enhance the chances for long-term development and poverty reduction iii.
In terms of mitigation efforts, Bangladesh has said in her NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) that she intends to adopt mitigation measures to decrease GHG emissions by pursuing a low-carbon growth pathiii. By 2030, the nation has voluntarily committed to reducing 12 Mt CO2 comparable in the Power, Transportation, and Industry areas, or 5% lower than business-as-usual (BAU) emissions in the sectors iii. It has also been dedicated to emitting an extra 24 Mt CO2 equivalent in those three sectors by the year 2030, which is 10% lower than BAU emissions provided global assistance is obtained iv.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made a commendable step in extending Bangladesh’s climate plan, which is of major international significance. On September 8, 2020, she opened the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) for South Asia in Dhaka. It is a follow-up to the Bangladesh Climate Strategy and Action Plan of 2009 and the Bangladesh Delta Plan-2100. “I hope this regional office would share the finest adaption methods of Bangladesh as well as other nations and exchange experiences within the region,” she said during the virtual launch ceremony. It will function as a regional center of excellence and a workable alternative for adaption measures”v. The GCA is a solution that allows international organizations to speed up the carrying out of adaptation plans and assist them in the face of uncertainty. Bangladesh established the Global Adaptation Center as a step ahead in preparing for future bio-catastrophes such as the Corona epidemic and ensuring interoperability among neighbors in the event of environmental disasters.
Dr. AK Abdul Momen, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister, demands that wealthy countries pay for the pollution they cause. The G20, which includes most of the world’s biggest countries, is responsible for 80% of worldwide carbon emissions. Bangladesh contributes just 0.4 percent of global carbon emissions, yet severe climatic events cost the nation 2% of its GDP each year. “Countries like Bangladesh and other poor countries have been plagued by severe weather for years, no doubt impacted by climate change,” he addedvi.
Dr. AK Abdul Momen has called on crucial carbon-emitting nations to rehabilitate climate refugees who have been forced from their homes and conventional occupations as a result of climate change. The foreign minister made the statement while speaking at a conference of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Dr. Momen also stressed the need of securing $100 billion in annual climate funding, with equal emphasis on reduction and adaptationvii.
Bangladesh is sincerely endeavoring to influence the global environmental and climate regimes and policies. The Government is expecting to reduce the ecological damages and climate vulnerabilities by potential advocacy globally.
Inter-related Factors of Advocating the Climate Policies
Climate Change is a recent matter of advocacy on the global ground. The Government under the authority of PM Sheikh Hasina has held a strong stance against climate change in the international environmental regimes. Bangladesh became the first developing nation to establish a coordinated action plan in 2009 with the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan. From 2009 to 2012, Bangladesh was the first nation to progress its Climate Change Trust Fund, backed by approximately $300 million in local resources. In 2011, the Bangladesh Legislature was modified to incorporate environmental conservation and natural resources for present and future generations. Prime Minister Hasina’s forestry policy program, emphasized in the constitution alongside wetlands and wildlife, has created a natural barrier against certain severe weather occurrences viii. The country’s forest cover has grown by almost 10%. Therefore, PM was awarded as the Champion of Earth in 2015.
Current climate-related and foreign ecological affairs of the country have indicated a considerable effort to exhibit the climate vulnerabilities of the country. Consequently, the ideological and ideo-centric leadership factors of decision-making are involved in the foreign policymaking process.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and bureaucracy prevails to be active in formulating climate-related policies. Simultaneously, public opinion and media advocacy also support climate advocacy. General people, youths, experts have recommended formulation and appreciated various initiatives on this ground. Accordingly, institutional and societal factors have a significant influence on this policymaking. Organizations like Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) have been playing a substantial role in environmental decision making. Though some business groups have taken eco-friendly initiatives to limit carbon emission, interest groups have little impact on foreign ecological policymaking.
Economy-Centrism in the Climate Advocacy
Bangladesh government processes the funds and funded projects in the light of some legal frameworks like the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act (BECA), Climate Change Trust Fund Act 2010 (CCTFA), Bangladesh Country Investment Plan for Environment Forestry and Climate Change (CIP-EFCC) 2016- 2021, Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP), Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 (BDP 2100), Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 8th Five year Plan (2021-2025) and Perspective Plan (2021-2041)ix. But there is an economy-centric reason to be active in the climate advocacy of Bangladesh in the global forums. The government wants to utilize more climate finance opportunities through adopting such foreign policies. But limitations in the proper utilization of climate finances are making it difficult for Bangladesh to obtain more funds due to the considerable competition among vulnerable countries.
Bangladesh’s policies are influenced by India-trapped perceptions. In the case of ecological foreign policies, engagement on the Rampal Coal Power Plant within 14 kilometers of Sunderbans is considered as one of the decisions that are taken in an India-trapped situation. Though the project is injurious to both countries, the reality is more horrified for Bangladesh rather than India. On the other hand, on the stage of the COP26, PM Sheikh Hasina announced to stop 10 coal power plants while the decision is influenced by the net-zero agenda of the conference. Recently, PM further proclaimed to scrap the needless development projects which are the reasons for ecocides and displacements in Bangladesh. It is expected that the keeping pace with the commitments of the Paris Agreement and COP26 net-zero agenda, Bangladesh will lessly be persuaded by Indian industrial policies.
India-trapped perceptions influence Bangladesh’s policies. In the case of foreign ecological policies, engagement on the Rampal Coal Power Plant within 14 kilometers of Sunderbans is considered one of the decisions taken in an India-trapped situation. Though the project is detrimental to both countries, the reality is more horrified for Bangladesh than Indiaix. On the other hand, on the stage of the COP26, PM Sheikh Hasina announced to stop ten coal power plants while the decision is influenced by the net-zero agenda of the conference. Recently, PM further proclaimed scraping the needless development projects, which are the reasons for ecocides and displacements in Bangladesh. It is expected that the keeping pace with the commitments of the Paris Agreement and COP26 net-zero agenda, Bangladesh will lessly be persuaded by Indian industrial policies.
Bangladesh is working hard to influence international environmental and climatic policies and regimes. The government expects future global campaigning to reduce environmental damage and climate dangers. The foreign environmental and climate decision-making is mainly influenced by four domestic factors: ideo-centric unique leadership, institutional, societal, and ideological factors. The report excludes the decision-making model and political factors in foreign policymaking, as there is hardly any authentic and transparent information available on them.
i. BANGLADESH : EIGHTH FIVE YEAR PLAN (JULY 2020-JUNE 2025). (2020). Retrieved from https://unb.com.bd/category/Bangladesh/pm-to-open-regional-global-centre-on-adaptation/5705
ii. Making Vision 2041 a Reality, PERSPECTIVE PLAN OF BANGLADESH 2021-2041. (2020). https://bangladesh.gov.bd/sites/default/files/files/bangladesh.gov.bd/page/6dca6a2a_9857_4656_bce6_139584b7f160/Perspective-Plan-of-Bangladesh.pdf
iii.PM to open regional Global Centre on Adaptation. (2020). UNB. Retrieved from https://unb.com.bd/category/Bangladesh/pm-to-open-regional-global-centre-on-adaptation/57052
iv. FM to developed countries: Pay compensation to climate vulnerable nations. (2021). Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved from https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/foreign-affairs/2021/09/05/fm-to-developed-countries-pay-compensation-to-climate-vulnerable-nations
v. Momen calls on carbon emitting countries to rehabilitate climate migrants. (2021). Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved from https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/foreign-affairs/2021/09/07/momen-calls-on-carbon-emitting-countries-to-rehabilitate-climate-migrants
vi.He sheik Hasina – policy leadership award. (2015). UN Environment Programme.
vii.Rampal Power Plant: Govt to comply with Unesco conditions. (2022). Retrieved from https://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/rampal-power-plant-govt-comply-unesco-conditions-1429999
viii.Bangladesh scrapped 10 coal power plants: PM tells COP26. (2021). Retrieved from https://www.thedailystar.net/environment/climate-crisis/climate-action/news/bangladesh-scrapped 10-coal-power-plants-pm-tells-cop26-2211496
ix. Scrap unnecessary projects. (2020). Retrieved from