Rebecca Eldon one of our Visiting Researchers shares her story.
Researching Bangladesh’s Nationally Determined Contribution
Since my first visit to Bangladesh, the country has stood out to me as one of the most unique places in the world. There is incredible beauty, seen both in the population’s love for art and culture, and in the deeply rooted kindness and hospitality people show to one another. At the same time there is heart-breaking poverty, which is exacerbated as Bangladeshis experience some of the most severe impacts of climate change in the world.
My family lived in Dhaka from 2012 to 2016 and it was during visits to them that I came in contact with Dr. Saleemul Huq, and the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD). The organization does an amazing job of empowering Bangladesh to address the challenges the nation faces by supporting cutting-edge research and innovative approaches to addressing climate change. After my first internship with ICCCAD in 2014, I knew the organization’s engagement with the link between Climate Change and development would become the focus of my career.
In 2017 I started my MSc in Environmental Policy at the London School of Economics, and soon decided I wanted to return to ICCCAD to write my MSc dissertation. ICCCAD accepted this and were very supportive with all the practicalities involved with visiting them. Saleem kindly put me in contact with officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC) as well as leading academics who had all been directly involved in creating the nation’s ambitious Climate Change plans. I also used connections from my university to set up further interviews, which gave me an amazing array of diverse informants lined up for my visit.
Unfortunately, I only had one week in Dhaka to carry out the interviews. Despite the short time-frame, this turned out to be one of the most unforgettable weeks of my life. From the very first morning of my arrival, until the last evening before I left, my schedule was filled with interesting and diverse interviews. Finding every interview was an adventure in itself, and took me from small offices of NGOs, hidden along crowded alleyways, to the large brick buildings of the government’s ministries, to modern high-rise buildings hosting international development organizations, and finally to the homes of many of the informants. With every interview, the kindness of Bangladeshis was again revealed, as these prominent people took time out of their schedules to talk to me, offering me Bengali tea and delicious snacks as they shared their knowledge.
I spent my evenings in catching up on everything I had learnt from the day and hanging out with my fellow housemates at the lovely guest house where ICCCAD’s visiting researchers stay. I wish I had had much longer to truly experience the country, and left with a strong desire to return and continue working with ICCCAD.
My research focused on how Bangladesh’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) was being implemented, and the role international development organizations played in this regard. It was therefore a big privilege to be able to talk directly to the people who had been involved in creating this document. I loved how informants’ different backgrounds often meant they had directly contradicting viewpoints on the same topic, which made my analysis very exciting.
After finishing my dissertation, I was lucky to get an internship with the German Development Organization (GIZ) in Fiji, on a project supporting countries in the Pacific to implement their NDCs. It has been incredibly interesting to apply everything I learnt about Bangladesh’s NDC to the Pacific and see the many similarities there are in these nation’s Climate Change planning.
I would like to extend a big thank you to everybody at ICCCAD for their kindness and support during my visit. I am particularly grateful to Dr. Saleemul Huq, and Mr. Mahmud Sabuj. I would further like to sincerely thank each of the 23 people who have given their time for an interview.
The Author Rebecca competed her Maters in Environmental Policy and Regulation, from the London School of Economics, in 2018. Since then she has worked for the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Fiji, on setting up the Regional Pacific Nationally Determined Contributions Hub. She wrote her bachelor’s in International Studies and Climate Change Planning at Roskilde University. In between her studies, Rebecca has worked with development projects for the Danish Youth Council in Honduras and UNICEF in Vietnam.