The Bangladesh government yesterday signed an agreement with the Netherlands and the World Bank Group, including its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), along with the 2030 Water Resources Group, to strengthen the management of the Bangladesh delta, Asia’s largest and the world’s most populated delta.
The partnership will help develop and implement the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100, a long-term and holistic vision for the Bangladesh Delta, and help realise Bangladesh’s goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2021, while maintaining the unique biodiversity and physical characteristics of the delta.
Speaking on the occasion as chief guest, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said a serious problem lies in the shortage of sweet water, since it is not simply a Bangladesh phenomenon, rather a global phenomenon, as most of the sweet water is stored in the ice. “This is very limited and we have to make the best use of that water,” he pointed out. Lauding the success of the Netherlands in reclaiming land from the sea, the finance minister said Bangladesh has not really acquired land from the sea the way the Netherlands has done, since Bangladesh has relied on natural forces to get these lands.
Muhith also noted that every year, Bangladesh automatically gets around 1,000 square miles of land, as this comes from the sediments that come from the Himalayas through various river systems, creating a delta in Bangladesh. He also welcomed the initiative and partnership with the Netherlands for formulating the Delta Plan 2100. “Bangladesh’s location, high poverty levels and population density make it especially vulnerable to the impact of climate change and the large economic losses that come with it,” said Johannes Zutt, the World Bank’s country director for Bangladesh. “The Delta Plan 2100 seeks to address this very challenge by building greater delta resilience and sustainability to benefit millions of people, whose lives and livelihoods depend on this unique environment, and to protect it for future generations,” he added.
The Delta Plan aims to create a long-term vision for delta management, prepare for different scenarios and responses, identify and organise government institutions to address challenges, and create and facilitate a long-term investment programme, bolstered by private sector participation and development partners. “Adaptive delta management will built a stronger foundation for a prosperous Bangladesh,” said Lia Carol Sieghart, program leader, World Bank.
The partnership among the Bangladesh government, the Netherlands and the World Bank Group will facilitate sharing of knowledge and information among the participating governments and the World Bank Group; identifying and implementing joint activities; and building on their respective kinds of expertise and capacity. The agreement builds upon another agreement signed between Bangladesh and the Netherlands in 2012.
“Like all delta countries, Bangladesh and the Netherlands share a common cause to manage these complex environments. They are, therefore, natural partners in the exchange of knowledge and knowhow,” said the Dutch minister for infrastructure and the environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen, while also emphasising the importance of the preventive approach to reduce the risk of disasters.
Lilianne Ploumen, the Netherlands’s minister for foreign trade and development cooperation, added: “The Bangladesh Delta Plan can only be a success if it benefits all people in Bangladeshi society.” She urged, in that connection, ‘to, in the further process, give proper attention also to the interests, views and roles of the poor, the landless people and, within those groups, particularly to women.’
The MoU was signed by Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Lilianne Ploumen, Lia Carol Sieghart and Anders Berntell—respectively on behalf of the Bangladesh government, the government of the Netherlands, the World Bank and IFC/2030 WRG, at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) in the capital.