This week marked another milestone in Bangladesh’s fight against climate change. Bangladesh with its long coastline and high poverty rates is among those countries most at risk from climate change. This week we got some good news on the climate front: Bangladesh was one of the three countries for which the Pilot Program on Climate Resilience  (PPCR) was approved. The country will receive a total of US$50 million in grant and US$60 million in near zero-interest credits to pilot climate resilience strategies.
The PPCR was created to help highly vulnerable countries to pilot and demonstrate ways to integrate climate risk and resilience into core development planning. It is under the broader umbrella US$6.4 billion Climate Investment Funds (CIF), created in 2008 to finance climate resilience strategies. Today, it is one of just a handful of funds available for adaptation. The CIF’s partners—donor countries, funding recipients, and five multilateral development banks—were meeting  in Washington this week.
Until now there has been a spotty history of funding for climate change adaptation. We’ve hardly seen anything of the pledges made in Copenhagen (US$100 billion annually in the long term and US$30 billion as a fast-start fund). Money for adaptation is not even a fraction of what is needed. In this context, PPCR funds provide something real and timely for countries like Bangladesh for which adaptation is key to meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
But we have not been waiting for others to help us. Climate change is such an over-riding concern for my country that we have been spending as much as US$100 million per year from our own budget to deal with adaptation efforts. We have a National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA), and a Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) launched in 2008 that includes a large menu of programs in climate-sensitive sectors.
While we wait for the Copenhagen pledges to become a reality, the PPCR monies will enable us to get on with our plans to fortify our coastline against increasing frequency of storms and the inevitable sea-level rise. While the pilot program may sound like a small amount, its real value lies in the fund’s leveraging power. This PPCR money will leverage an additional US$515 million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank. To be honest, without this leveraging, the effort to protect our 6,000 kilometer coastline would be a drop in the ocean and would not have any real impact.
We already had plans to build embankments to buttress our coastal areas but this will help us build them a little higher after factoring in the impact climate change will have in a low-lying country like Bangladesh.
The PPCR funds will go for critical climate change needs. Of the grant money US$25 million will be used to leverage much larger investments to shore up the coastal embankment to be higher and better constructed to withstand cyclones and storm surges. The program, to be managed by the World Bank, will use US$300 million from the International Development Association, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries. Another chunk will supplement $215 million in financing from the Asian Development Bank for a water supply and sanitation project in the coastal area.
A third US$3 million grant and US$10 million in concessional financing will be for the private sector to work on innovative saline resistant seeds and efficient farm practices for coastal areas. These three major components will add to the institutional and monitoring capacity of the Government while raising awareness about climate change on the ground.
We know how vulnerable Bangladesh is and have been making efforts to combat climate change. Thanks to all the work for our National programs, we were ready with the analytical and background required that is needed to prepare these plans. The planning paid off and we were able to access the PPCR funds, without the delay that normally occurs in applying for any international fund.