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| Last Updated:: 14/03/2015

Sunderbans hardly prepared for climate change, migration

 The fragile Sunderbans - the largest mangrove forests and delta region spread over both Bangladesh and India - is "hardly prepared" for climate change-related issues, experts said here on Thursday.

Policy makers, academicians, civil society organisations and community development experts said gaps in preparedness in the face of submergence of islands in Sunderbans and the consequent mass migration needs to be addressed "immediately" and at a global level.

"Bay of Bengal harbouring all coastal countries - Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Indonesia - have the highest record of disasters historically and the frequency of disasters is six times more in this region than that in any part of the world," said climate change expert Saroj Dash.

He was speaking at the third sub-regional workshop on community resilience to climate change in Bay of Bengal organised by World Vision India. The previous editions of the workshop were held in Odisha (2012) and Dhaka, Bangladesh (2013).

"Sunderbans flanked by India and Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal is one of the most vulnerable regions of the world and one of the most densely populated region on earth. It is hardly prepared for even partial submergence and consequent mass migration," said Dash, regional technical co-ordinator, climate change, Concern Worldwide, an international humanitarian organisation.

Observations such as these will be part of a charter that will feed into two forthcoming key global events - the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, the 21st Conference of Parties in Paris, and finally targeting the Sustainable Development Goals 2015.

Aiming to build resilience to climate change in the region, the charter will focus on women and children.

"Women and children are the most vulnerable because of food security, health and migratory issues.

"Their identities and empowerment have a lot to do with their homes and if that is washed away due to floods and other disasters, then they suffer," said Ardhendu Sekhar Chatterjee, a leading figure in sustainable agriculture and agro-forestry.

In addition to highlighting adaptation, biodiversity, climate change impact monitoring and assessment, experts also called for building up more active networks of parliamentarians of countries in the Bay of Bengal.

"The need of the hour is to build up more and more active networks of MPs to combat climate change. Capacity development of parliamentarians could also have a positive impact on international climate negotiations," said Mukul Sharma, regional director-South Asia, Climate Parliament.