The year 2030 is the target year for the world to achieve all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations. In addition to the SDGs, 2030 is also the year by which all countries party to the Paris Agreement on climate change must keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as well as achieve the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA).
At the same time, the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) held in 2021 has launched a series of initiatives to change the food systems nationally as well as globally, to make them more resilient by 2030.
Another initiative of note is the Race to Resilience (R2R) campaign launched by the high-level champions of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is bringing together non-state actors from around the world to enhance the overall resilience of society in the face of adverse impacts from human-induced climate change that are going to get only worse by the day.
As we have entered the era of loss and damage caused by human-induced climate change, we need to tackle these issues as true emergencies, rather than simply tinkering with reform around the edges. The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated what a global crisis looks like, as well as the need for all countries to work together to effectively combat it.
Every single one of us needs to consider ourselves the citizens of Planet Earth first, and our respective countries second. Almost all the major problems facing humanity now are global in nature, and cannot be solved within national boundaries anymore. Hence, we all need to think globally while acting locally.
Another important shift needed in our thinking is for every sector and organisation to make it their own responsibility to actively participate in tackling climate change—rather than simply leave it to the government. This is now known as a “whole-of-society” approach, taken to tackle major issues. This approach is the way to go if we are to have any chance of tackling the global challenges we currently face. This means that every organisation—from schools to companies, from NGOs to media houses—has to undertake its own analysis of what can be done regarding climate change, and then commit to actions themselves to contribute to the greater climate action.
The third important task regarding the climate emergency is to confront the forces who are causing the problems—which includes fossil fuel companies as well as certain governments and media outlets who protect them. These forces of the status quo now need to be challenged at every level. This will require criminalising their behaviour both at national and global levels. From now on, polluting companies must be forced to pay for the loss and damage they have caused and profited from. It is now very clear that these companies knowingly caused the damage; now, they must face the consequences.
Every country in the world needs to make these three transitions as quickly as possible in order to enable their citizens to tackle the crisis adequately. In Bangladesh, we have a number of major opportunities for us to make these transitions quicker than others.
The first big transition we have coming up is our graduation from the Least Developed Country (LDC) category in 2026. This means that we will no longer be eligible for grants and concessional loans, and will have to compete in the open global economy. This is a major achievement for the government as well as the people of Bangladesh. But it will certainly create a shock, which we must be prepared to overcome.
The Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan (MCPP), with its 10-year goal to achieve prosperity for the country in the face of adverse impacts of climate change, takes a whole-of-society approach to enable all sectors, organisations and even individuals to play their respective roles in achieving the desired prosperity by 2030. At the same time, it is important to focus on the role that local communities—including households and even individuals—can and must play to tackle the climate impacts. This is known as Locally Led Adaptation (LLA), in which Bangladesh has already been acknowledged as a global leader. We need to build on this—not just for ourselves, but for us to share our knowledge and experience with other countries as well.
Finally, we must invest in our young girls and boys who are by far our biggest asset. We have to help them become creative, innovative and successful adults. Each year that we fail to do so is another wasted year, and there are only nine years left until 2030. We need to act as swiftly as possible; there is no time to lose.
Originally this article was published on January 05, 2021 at Daily Star. The author Prof. Saleemul Huq is the director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at the Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB).