by Dr. Kamal Uddin Ahmed
Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests
Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
and Operational Focal Point of GEF in Bangladesh
The GEF has played a significant role with its gracious support for conserving the environment and promoting the well-being of the people of Bangladesh. Anyone looking at its impact can see the results in the areas of biodiversity conservation in Ecologically Critical Areas (ECAs), adaptation through afforestation, and implementation of the national biosafety framework. Bangladesh has taken part in GEF enabling activities, like developing or updating: a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan; a National Adaptation Plan of Action; a National Capacity Self Assessment; a National Biosafety Framework; a National Action Plan to combat desertification; a National Implementation Plan on phasing-out of POPs; and National Communications and National Reports to various UN conventions and protocols. The support received from the GEF helped the country comply with the obligations of the conventions on environment. The projects taken through GEF funding upheld Bangladesh's commitment to the world community to conserve the environment and ensure global benefits.
The GEF extended cooperation to the Coastal and Wetlands Biodiversity Management project implemented by the Department of Environment in the four ECAs that yielded encouraging results in terms of demonstrating a viable community-based management approach for the country’s precious biological resources. The project contributed through forming community based organizations and building their capacity, establishing fish and bird sanctuaries, conserving marine turtles ex-situ and in-situ, establishing a turtle hatchery, mangrove plantations, promoting eco-friendly agriculture, training poor people to develop skills to undertake alternate income generation activities and enhancing local awareness and participatory biodiversity monitoring.
Support from the GEF's Least Developed Countries Fund received for the Community-based Coastal Afforestation Project won the Award for 2013 in the Global Contest on “Solution Search: Adapting to a Changing Climate” sponsored by Rare and The Nature Conservancy. The Ministry of Environment and Forests of Bangladesh won the Earth Care Award 2012 for the same project by demonstrating a success story of community based adaptation, which benefited 18,269 households by involving them in afforestation, agriculture, livestock, and fishery-based livelihoods. One of the project's significant adaptation response measures is the development of the FFF (Forest-Fish-Fruit) model that comprises short and long term income generation, as well as livelihood diversification.
Since the GEF's inception in 1991, Bangladesh has undertaken 41 projects with grants totaling USD 143.59 million and utilized a project preparation grant of USD 3.76 million. It is trying its best to contribute to the well-being of the global environment. The country is expecting much more involvement from the GEF through increased allocation and is looking forward to a very dynamic and revitalized GEF in its future endeavors.