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Better Road Safety Will Boost Economic Growth in Bangladesh

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Five winning teams of the World Bank-United Nations Road Safety Champions’ Video Competition were awarded today in Dhaka. The competition sought ideas for making Dhaka’s roads safer from young Bangladeshis between the ages of 18-23 and received an overwhelming response.

“Road fatalities are more than personal tragedies, they undermine a country’s growth and human development. Like other countries, by improving road safety, Bangladesh can further reduce poverty and accelerate economic growth,” saidWorld Bank Vice President for South Asia, Hartwig Schafer during the Award Ceremony.

While congratulating the winners, Schafer added, “We all are very impressed with the creative, practical and scalable solutions for Dhaka’s road safety proposed by the contestants. These ideas are a testament that road safety crisis is preventable. The World Bank and the United Nations will continue working together with the Government of Bangladesh to improve road safety.”

The World Bank and the government of Bangladesh are discussing a possible $250 million support for comprehensive road safety improvement.

Road safety affects us all. With increasing number of motorized vehicles, road accidents have become the fourth leading cause of death of children between 5 and 14 in Bangladesh. So, road safety is very much a development agenda and we must act now,” saidMercy Tembon, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan.

The competition was launched in September 2019 by the Honorable Finance Minister A H M Mustafa Kamal, MP, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety Mr. Jean Todt, and Hartwig Schafer.

“SDG target 3.6 seeks to halve road traffic deaths and injuries by 2020 and SDG target 11.2 includes a focus on providing safe, sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety and with special attention to key groups such as children and the vulnerable. This joint UN and WB initiative reached out to young people to find unique ideas and solutions from their fresh perspective through the video competition. I congratulate all the young people who took part in this video contest. Your ideas contribute to the effort to find sustainable solutions and make the roads safer for all of us,” said Mia Seppo, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh.

Schafer, Tembon and Seppo handed out certificates and prizes to the winners at the World Bank’s Dhaka Office. The contest called for participants to submit a video within 2-minutes duration with a befitting title to respond to the question, “What would you change to make the roads in Dhaka safer?”

A five-member panel of judges included Korvi Rakshand, founder of JAAGO Foundation, Iqbal Habib, Architect and Joint Secretary of Bangladesh Environment Movement (BAPA), Ayman Sadiq, founder of 10 Minutes School, Dandan Chen, World Bank Operations Manager for Bangladesh and Bhutan, and Dr Mahfuzul Huq, Technical Officer, World Health Organization.

Key themes that emerged from the contest included: introducing separate bus lanes, mobile apps, smart buses, under-the-surface barricade system, speed camera, and limiting the number of bus trips and random parking to take or drop passengers through digital means.

The winners are:

First Prize: Kazi Md. Marfu-Um Abid, Farhana Haque, and Md. Fahimur Rahman Shuvo from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET)

Second Prize: Md. Fahmid-ul-Alam Juboraj, Farnaz Fawad Hasan, and Reshad Karim Navid from BRAC University

Third Prize: Md. Taufiquzzaman Pranto from BUET

First Runner-up: Prottoy Roy, Srishti Roy Chowdhury, and Fahim Faisal Raunaq from BUET

Second Runner-up: Abrar Mahmud Chowdhury, Naweed Kabir, and Md. Fahad Wafiq from BRAC University

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Environment

New project to help 30 developing countries tackle marine litter scourge

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Litter is removed from a beach in Watamu in Kenya. UNEP/Duncan Moore

A UN-backed initiative aims to turn the tide on marine litter, in line with the global development goal on conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources. 

The GloLitter Partnerships Project will support  30 developing countries in preventing and reducing marine litter from the maritime transport and fisheries sectors, which includes plastic litter such as lost or discarded fishing gear. 

The project was launched on Thursday by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), with initial funding from Norway. 

Protecting oceans and livelihoods 

“Plastic litter has a devastating impact on marine life and human health”, said Manuel Barange, FAO’s Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture.  “This initiative is an important step in tackling the issue and will help protect the ocean ecosystem as well as the livelihoods of those who depend on it.” 

Protecting the marine environment is the objective of Sustainable Development Goal 14, part of the 2030 Agenda to create a more just and equitable future for all people and the planet. 

The GloLitter project will help countries apply best practices for the prevention and reduction of marine plastic litter, in an effort to safeguard the world’s coastal and marine resources. 

Actions will include encouraging fishing gear to be marked so that it can be traced if lost or discarded at sea. Another focus will be on the availability and adequacy of port reception facilities and their connection to national waste management systems.  

“Marine litter is a scourge on the oceans and on the planet”, said Jose Matheickal, Head of the IMO’s Department for Partnerships and Projects. “I am delighted that we have more than 30 countries committed to this initiative and working with IMO and FAO to address this issue.” 

Five regions represented 

The nations taking part in the GloLitter project are in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific. 

They will also receive technical assistance and training, as well as guidance documents and other tools to help enforce existing regulations. 

The project will promote compliance with relevant international instruments, including the Voluntary Guidelines for the Marking of Fishing Gear, and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which contains regulations against discharging plastics into the sea.

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Development

Climate Finance: Climate Actions at Center of Development and Recovery

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) called access to climate finance a key priority for Asia and the Pacific as governments design and implement a green and resilient recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Speaking at the United Kingdom Climate and Development Ministerial—one of the premier events leading up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in November—ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said expanding access to finance is critical if developing economies in Asia and the Pacific are to meet their Paris Agreement goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.

“We can no longer take a business-as-usual approach to climate change. We need to put ambitious climate actions at the center of development,” Mr. Asakawa said. “ADB is committed to supporting its developing member countries through finance, knowledge, and collaboration with other development partners, as they scale up climate actions and push for an ambitious outcome at COP 26 and beyond.”

ADB is using a three-pronged strategy to expand access to finance for its developing members as they step up their response to the impacts of climate change.

First, ADB has an ambitious corporate target to ensure 75% of the total number of its committed operations support climate change mitigation and adaptation by the end of the decade, with climate finance from ADB’s own resources to reach $80 billion cumulatively between 2019 and 2030. ADB has also adopted explicit climate targets under its Asian Development Fund (ADF), which provides grant financing to its poorest members. ADF 13, which covers the period of 2021–2024, will support climate mitigation and adaption in 35% of its operations by volume and 65% of its total number of projects by 2024.

Second, ADB is enhancing support for adaptation and resilience that goes beyond climate proofing physical infrastructure to promote strong integration of ecological, social, institutional, and financial aspects of resilience into ADB’s investments.

Third, ADB is increasing its focus on supporting the poorest and most vulnerable communities in its developing member countries by working with the United Kingdom, the Nordic Development Fund, and the Green Climate Fund on a community resilience program to scale up the quantity and quality of climate adaptation finance in support of local climate adaptation actions.

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Human Rights

Migrants left stranded and without assistance by COVID-19 lockdowns

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At least 30,000 migrants are stranded at borders in West Africa according to the UN. IOM/Monica Chiriac

Travel restrictions during the COVID pandemic have been particularly hard on refugees and migrants who move out of necessity, stranding millions from home, the UN migration agency, IOM, said on Thursday. 

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the first year of the pandemic saw more than 111,000 travel restrictions and border closures around the world at their peak in December.  

These measures “have thwarted many people’s ability to pursue migration as a tool to escape conflict, economic collapse, environmental disaster and other crises”, IOM maintained. 

In mid-July, nearly three million people were stranded, sometimes without access to consular assistance, nor the means to meet their basic needs.  

In Panama, the UN agency said that thousands were cut off in the jungle while attempting to travel north to the United States; in Lebanon, migrant workers were affected significantly by the August 2020 explosion in Beirut and the subsequent surge of COVID-19 cases. 

Business as usual 

Border closures also prevented displaced people from seeking refuge, IOM maintained, but not business travellers, who “have continued to move fairly freely”, including through agreed ‘green lanes’, such as the one between Singapore and Malaysia.  

By contrast, those who moved out of necessity – such as migrant workers and refugees – have had to absorb expensive quarantine and self-isolation costs, IOM said, noting that in the first half of 2020, asylum applications fell by one-third, compared to the same period a year earlier.  

Unequal restrictions 

As the COVID crisis continues, this distinction between those who can move and those who cannot, will likely become even more pronounced, IOM said, “between those with the resources and opportunities to move freely, and those whose movement is severely restricted by COVID-19-related or pre-existing travel and visa restrictions and limited resources”. 

This inequality is even more likely if travel is allowed for anyone who has been vaccinated or tested negative for COVID-19, or for those with access to digital health records – an impossibility for many migrants. 

Health risks 

Frontier lockdowns also reduced options for those living in overcrowded camps with high coronavirus infection rates in Bangladesh and Greece, IOM’s report indicated.  

In South America, meanwhile, many displaced Venezuelans in Colombia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Brazil, lost their livelihoods and some have sought to return home – including by enlisting the services of smugglers. 

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