Sensitizing the Private Sector about climate change issues and adaptation
We know that the private sector and its continued growth will serve as one of the most important factors determining the progress of Bangladesh's socioeconomic condition in the years ahead. CARE Bangladesh's EC Funded project PRODUCE, among other things, aims at sensitizing the private sector around its role in the country's rural development process. This means that we envision a rural economy thriving from the growth of the private sector, which is inclusive of the most marginalized and vulnerable population groups in these areas.
However, in order to ensure sustained developments in the private sector, it is important to build their capacities to cope with the rising adversities of climate change and natural disasters, which are threatening businesses across the country. It is widely known that there is little awareness on the part of the private sector regarding this menace. To resolve this issue, the PRODUCE project organized a workshop in Rangpur, on the 13th of October 2010. The workshop was titled, "Climate Change and its Influence on the Private Sector". Dr. Ahsan Uddin Ahmed, Executive Director for Center for Global Change (CGC), an author for Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and an internationally renowned climate change specialist facilitated the workshop. A diverse range of participants from MNCs like Bata and Renata; local conglomerates like Lal Teer Seeds, Square, ACI, Kazi Farm; and member representatives from Rangpur and Nilphamari Chambers of Commerce were present. During the workshop, participants were sensitized on climate change, its current scenario, threats to the growth of economic development, and strategies that companies can undertake to adapt to climate change, and reduce its affects on the growth and development of businesses.
According to Dr. Ahsan, challenges concerning climate change from the perspective of private sector in Bangladesh, mostly due to economic resource loss pose a great threat to the lives and livelihoods of people, as it does to the overall success of any business. The workshop was an interactive one in which discussions was initiated among participants through different examples; like impacts of Floods in 1998 on RMG sector; 2007 late flood impacts on agriculture and more recent impacts of the depression at Khatunganj (Chittagong) at the beginning of this month on the fishing industry.
In continuation of these discussions, Dr. Ahmed explained different facets of Climate Change and its upcoming influences on private sector. By using historical data and a simple graphical presentation, he explained changes in weather, flood catastrophes, rainfall, salinity, water logging, river bank erosion, temperature, sea level rise, tidal surge and their collective impacts on socio-economic and gender development perspectives in the region. In his presentation, Dr. Ahsan held a lively and interactive session, followed by a Q&A session as well, with company representatives on strategies to adapt to climate change, and on methods to account for such risks in company core business plans and strategies.
In conclusion, Dr. Ahmed emphasized on a knowledge base adaptation model for private sector because it has always been a grave challenge for the sector to overcome the odds of disaster, environmental degradation and climate change. What it has resulted in is non-inclusive economic growth, which has not facilitated socioeconomic progress for the poor and poorest population groups as participants in the country's rural economy. In the end, private sector companies came away with renewed and improved understanding on how the climate is affecting their business, and the lives of the people around them, as well as with clearer insight on how strategic planning can help them cope with climate change, grow as a business, and support inclusive economic development of rural Bangladesh.