September, 2020

Bangladesh PM says we must prioritise a green Covid recovery

Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, water is a matter of life and death.

My country is a land of great rivers, vast coastlines and resilient people. But 2020 has been a test for us like no other. In May, cyclone Amphan left a trail of devastation in its path in the south-western parts and then monsoon rains marooned one-third of the country, leaving thousands of people displaced and damaging vast tracts of crops.

When water batters through your house, destroying your possessions, leaving pollution and disease in its way, it is tough. It is doubly tough in a year when Covid-19 has struck, making it difficult to access clean water vital for sanitation and pandemic prevention.

As I write in Dhaka, the waters of the Brahmaputra and Padma basins are receding. My people are getting their lives back, albeit under the shadow of coronavirus.

We are assessing flood defences and providing relief to those affected. As ever, they are drawing up plans to ensure we are better prepared in the future, because in Bangladesh there is always a next time. The climate crisis does not sleep.

I want to warn countries that feel they are immune to the climate crisis, to bankers and financiers who feel they can escape it: you cannot. Covid-19 has shown that no country or business can survive alone. Only together can we tackle global crises. It has also demonstrated that prevention is easier than cure. That makes 2020 the year we must commit to listen to scientists.

We face a planetary emergency, a triple crisis of climate, health and nature. Biodiversity loss is accelerated by climate change and exacerbates it.

 

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