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Green Growth is Key to Bangladesh’s Upper-Middle Income Country Vision

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Dhaka and other cities face severe air and water pollution due to rapid and unplanned urbanization. To achieve an upper-middle income status, Bangladesh must check environmental degradation, particularly in the urban areas and become climate resilient, says a new World Bank analysis.

The preliminary findings of the report ‘Country Environment Assessment for Bangladesh’ discussed today at a workshop say that the country is losing one percent GDP every year due to air pollution. Noncompliant industries and inadequate waste management of hazardous and nonhazardous materials are polluting the cities’ air as well as surface and ground water. For one ton of fabric, the dyeing and finishing factories discharge 200 metric tons of wastewater to rivers leading to health hazards in the capital’s poorer neighborhood.

“When growth comes at the cost of environment, it cannot sustain. The good news is that we have seen it is possible to grow cleaner and greener without growing slower,” said Zahid Hussain, World Bank Acting Country Director for Bangladesh. “To sustain its strong growth performance, Bangladesh simply cannot afford to ignore the environment. It must plan and act now to prevent environmental degradation and ensure climate resilience.”

The draft report focused on four areas: cost of environmental degradation, urban wetlands, cleaner technologies, and institutions. The analysis suggests that the country needs to manage its urbanization and industrialization process in an environmentally sustainable way.

To enforce environment policies, the government must strengthen the institutions and regulatory framework. It should provide incentives to industries to adopt green and clean technologies and should enforce polluter’s pay principle.

Due to unplanned development, unabated pollution is affecting both the big and small cities. For example, in Dhaka, around 600,000 residents are exposed to lead contamination, which can lead to IQ loss and neurological damage, especially among children.

The cities also suffer from waterlogging due to heavy rainfall. They are vulnerable to floods due to wetland encroachments and lack of waste management systems. For instance, Pabna has lost nearly half of its wetlands since 1990. Now it faces prolonged waterlogging. To improve the cities’ resilience, the government needs to incorporate wetlands into urban planning, enforce zoning, and invest in waste management.

Climate change further aggravates industrial pollution as some industrial belts are exposed to sea level rise. About 5.3 million poor people will be vulnerable to the effects of climate change in 2050.  Climate change will likely to reduce agricultural productivity, increase malnutrition, and decrease water availability in many areas.

Honorable Minister of Environment and Forests, Anwar Hossain Manju delivered the keynote speech. The policy makers, government officials, environmentalists, urban planners, civil society representatives, and private sector leaders were present and discussed the findings of the draft, which will be launched in early next year.

The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then the World Bank has committed nearly $26 billion in grants and interest-free credits to Bangladesh. In recent years, Bangladesh has been the largest recipient of the World Bank’s interest-free credits.

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Mexico officially joins IEA: First member in Latin America

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Mexico officially became the International Energy Agency’s 30th member country on 17 February 2018, and its first member in Latin America. The membership came after the signed IEA treaty (the IEP Agreement) was deposited with the government of Belgium, which serves as the depository state, following ratification by the Mexican Senate.

Mexico’s accession is a cornerstone of the IEA’s on-going modernization strategy, including “opening the doors” of the IEA to engage more deeply with emerging economies and the key energy players of Latin America, Asia and Africa, towards a secure, sustainable and affordable energy future.

The IEA Family of 30 Member countries and seven Association countries now accounts for more than 70% of global energy consumption, up from less than 40% in 2015.

“With this final step, Mexico enters the most important energy forum in the world,” said Joaquín Coldwell, Mexico’s Secretary of Energy. “We will take our part in setting the world’s energy policies, receive experienced advisory in best international practices, and participate in emergency response exercises.”

“It is a historic day because we welcome our first Latin American member country, with more than 120 million inhabitants, an important oil producer, and a weighty voice in global energy,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director. “The ambitious and successful energy reforms of recent years have put Mexico firmly on the global energy policy map.”

At the last IEA Ministerial Meeting, held in Paris in November 2017, ministers representing the IEA’s member countries unanimously endorsed the rapid steps Mexico was taking to become the next member of the IEA, providing a major boost for global energy governance.

They recognized that Mexico had taken all necessary steps in record time to meet international membership requirements since its initial expression of interest in November 2015. In December, the Mexican Senate ratified the IEP Agreement paving the way for the deposit of the accession instrument and for membership to take effect.

Mexico is the world’s 15th-largest economy and 12th-largest oil producer, and has some of the world’s best renewable energy resources. The IEA family will benefit greatly from Mexico’s contribution on discussion about the world’s energy challenges. The IEA is delighted to continue supporting implementation of Mexico’s energy reform with technical expertise, and further intensifying the fruitful bilateral dialogue of energy policy best practice exchange.

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Guterres: Korean nuclear crisis, Middle East quagmire eroding global security

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“Conflicts are becoming more and more interrelated and more and more related to a set of a new global terrorism threat  to all of us,” Mr. Guterres said in his keynote address at the opening ceremony on Friday of the Munich Security Conference.

For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the world is facing the threat of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which he called “a development made in total contradiction to the will of the international community and in clear violation of several resolutions of the Security Council.”

He said that it was essential to maintain “meaningful pressure over North Korea” to create an opportunity for diplomatic engagement on the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula within a regional framework.

“The two key stakeholders in relation to this crisis, the United States and [DPRK]” must be able to “come together and have a meaningful discussion on these issues,” he said, adding that it is “important not to miss the opportunity of a peaceful resolution through diplomatic engagement as a military solution would be a disaster with catastrophic consequences that we cannot even be able to imagine.”

The situation in the broader Middle East, which the UN chief said had become a “Gordian knot,” was also eroding global security, with that are crises that are “crossing each other and interconnected.”

Pointing to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya, among others, Mr. Guterres said the entire Middle East has “became a mess,” with varied and intersecting fault lines.

He warned of the absence of a common vision in the region and said that even if interests are contradictory, the threats these conflicts represent would justify some efforts to come together.

Turning to cyber-security, Mr. Guterres called for a serious discussion about the international legal framework in which cyberwars take place.

“I can guarantee that the United Nations would be ready to be a platform in which different actors could come together and discuss the way forward, to find the adequate approaches to make sure that we are able to deal with the problem of cybersecurity,” he said, noting that artificial intelligence provides “enormous potential for economic development, social development and for the well-being for all of us.”

The Secretary-General said that Governments and others have been unable to manage human mobility. He warned that this had created mistrust and doubts about globalism and multilateralism.

“This is a reason why,” he said, “we need to be able to unite, we need to be able to affirm that global problems can only be addressed with global solutions and that multilateralism is today more necessary than ever.”

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Supporting tourism development in Africa through better measurement

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In an effort to better measure tourism growth and development in Africa, UNWTO signed a Cooperation Agreement with the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation for the Strengthening of the National Tourism Statistical System of Nigeria and the Development of a Tourism Satellite Account.

UNWTO is committed to developing tourism measurement for furthering knowledge of the sector, monitoring progress, evaluating impact, promoting results-focused management, and highlighting strategic issues for policy objectives.

On the occasion of the meeting between UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, and the Minister of Information and Culture of Nigeria, Mr. Lai Mohammed, the agreement to host the Sixty-First meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Africa and the Seminar on ‘Tourism Statistics: A Catalyst for Development’ in Nigerian capital, Abuja, from 4 to 6 June 2018, was signed.

The meetings will be open to the participation of UNWTO Member States and Affiliate Members, as well as invited delegations and representatives of the tourism and related sectors. Officials of immigration departments, national statistics bureaus, central banks and other relevant stakeholders will be invited to join.

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