Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday said forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar's Arakan State have been destroying Bangladesh's environment.
"You all know, we have given shelter to 1.1 million forcefully displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar in our 6,800 acres of forest land in Cox's Bazar. It is in an extremely vulnerable location, their presence affecting our ecosystem," he said.
Dr. Momen made the remarks while addressing the inaugural ceremony of the 15th Meeting of the Governing Council of the South Asia Cooperative Environment Program (SACEP) at a city hotel.
He said, "It is the responsibility of the global leaders, especially our South Asian partners, to do more to ensure their quick return to Myanmar. It is an issue solely between Myanmar and its own people, the Rohingyas. They themselves have to resolve it."
Voluntary return of the Rohingyas to their homes in Rakhine state in safety, security and dignity is the only solution to the crisis, the minister added.
He said, halting the global climate change and reducing disaster risks will largely depend on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda of the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework to their true letter and spirit.
Recently adopted Global Compact for Migration has also acknowledged that investing in, and accelerating global cooperation for, climate change mitigation and adaptation would contribute to the elimination of the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin, Momen said.
Momen mentioned that protected and restored ecosystems and the biodiversity can help mitigate climate change and provide increased resilience in the face of mounting human pressures and natural disasters. Healthy ecosystems produce multiple benefits for communities that rely on them.
The foreign minister cautioned that 1 meter rise in sea-level is likely to uproot nearly 30 million people of Bangladesh and climate vulnerability is costing nearly 1-3% of country's annual GDP growth rate.
Pointing out Bangladesh is vulnerable in climate change, he said, "Bangladesh being one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change is also at the forefront of learning how to tackle the adverse impacts of climate change.
It has started as early as 2009 a Comprehensive National Act Plan and set its 2 Trust Funds. We are building Climate Adaptation Center in Bangladesh to share our experience and expertise to the climate vulnerable countries."
Mentioning government success in the economic sector Dr. Momen said, "Despite vulnerability to climate change impacts, Bangladesh continued to prosper over the last 10 years. Bangladesh recorded the highest economic growth among a list of the 26 countries in the last 10 years, with 188% expansion of our gross GDP. This year, GDP growth has reached to 8.13% and as per ADB, highest amongst 45 Asia-Pacific countries."
Wishing success of the meeting the minister said, "I hope this meeting of SACEP will identify the possible areas of cooperation and bring the SACEP member states closer to each other for further cooperation."
Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin, Indian Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Keshav Javadekar, Minister of State for Environment, Republic of Maldives Ahmed Mujthaba, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Habibun Nahar, Director General, SACEP (South Asia Co-operative Environment Program) Abas Basir, among others, were present.
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