Bangladesh has an ambitious climate plan. A $ 2 billion loan could give it a start

Bangladesh’s low elevation, home to 160 million people and the world’s largest delta river system, is particularly vulnerable to climate change as rainfall is disrupted and sea levels rise. Floods in July and August, for example, affected at least 5 million people and submerged up to a third of the delta region, according to the country’s Flood Forecast and Warning Center.

Today, the country expects the World Bank to approve $ 2 billion in loans to finance its ambitious climate adaptation plan, with the first installment coming early next year.

“The talks have reached the final stage as Bangladesh seeks funds from international donors. The World Bank is just one, “said Shamsul Alam, principal secretary of the Bangladesh Planning Commission, in an interview. The Japan International Cooperation Agency was also approached.

World Bank funds will go to the Delta 2100 plan, which aims to minimize the damage the country’s rivers and estuaries can cause during flooding. “Continued erosion of rivers displaces around tens of thousands of people every year,” said Mercy Tembon, World Bank country director for Bangladesh. The country’s proposal combines water and land management with economic development projects, which “reduce poverty and open up opportunities,” Tembon added. The first phase of the plan includes 80 projects such as land reclamation, construction of embankments and creation of safe navigation canals, and will require an investment of around $ 38 billion by 2030.

Even taking the mildest estimates of global warming, where the rise in temperatures remains below 1.5 ° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, up to 600,000 Bangladeshis will permanently lose their homes. In a worst-case scenario, that number could reach 3 million, according to nonprofit science advocacy group Climate Central. Even this high number does not include the millions more who would be periodically displaced.

Recognizing the immense challenge it faces, the government of Bangladesh approved the Delta Plan in 2018. The country is currently investing 0.8% of its gross domestic product in water-related projects, which are expected to reach around 2.00%. 5% by 2030 to meet the demands of the plan. , Alam said.

Even if the money from the World Bank arrives, it will not be easy to raise the rest. The country borrowed $ 2.7 billion this year to fight the pandemic. Then in May, the country was hit by Cyclone Amphan, which forced the evacuation of 2.4 million people. The July floods followed.

Each crisis forces the country to spend money to recover and therefore to increase its borrowing. The International Monetary Fund released a report in June, predicting that disaster-related borrowing will increase Bangladesh’s public debt-to-GDP ratio to around 41 percent of GDP over the next few years, from 36 percent at the end of 2019.

“Climate change is a priority for Bangladesh’s development goals as it is one of the countries most vulnerable to extreme weather events,” the IMF report said. “As efforts to promote a green recovery take root, Bangladesh is also well positioned to attract investment that will help mitigate climate change.

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