The Political Economy of Climate Change Adaptation in Bangladesh

How Climate Funds and Public Institutions in a Messy Multi-Actor Environment Grapple with Moving from Planning to Action

It is a fairly uncontested view that Bangladesh is at the frontline of the impacts of climate change. Consequently, the Bangladeshi  Government and international climate funds allocate a large amount of funds to efforts that strengthen climate resilience. Many institutions have been involved in the integration of the ‘adaptation lens’ into regular business and administrative processes. In addition, climate policies have been formulated and approved since the mid 2000s, under the leadership of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). The Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP),  approved in 2009, has been the umbrella policy instrument to guide and initiate climate adaptation action.

In 2016, PlanAdapt started to be involved in the planning and preparation of an in-depth review of the BCCSAP.  Have the objectives and targets been achieved ?; Have other policy and implementation spheres been influenced by the BCCSAP ?; Have there been adequate funds allocated to the goals of the BCCSAP ?; Are the impacts of the policy visible on the ground ? These and other questions were in the centre of the review. PlanAdapt, in collaboration with GIZ, supported the MoEF in conducting this rigorous review by developing the methodological framework, the analytical structure and an implementation plan.  Lessons learnt will be applied to an updated version of the strategy. Overall, it is still a large challenge to convert improvements in policy-making and fund allocations at national level into tangible impact on the ground. Besides other aspects, the inter-ministerial coordination and collaboration remains very political and challenging.

In 2017, in collaboration with GIZ, Ambero and GOPA, PlanAdapt contributed to the design of  a spatial planning information system (PLIS) that enables regular climate impact assessment procedure for infrastructure investment projects.  The PLIS is a Geographic Information System (GIS) including a database of past investment projects and a web-based platform for new applications. It integrates all spatial and non-spatial data necessary for decision making and monitoring of all investment projects.

More recently, PlanAdapt supported the German Government in developing future strategic directions for their work with the Bangladeshi Government to take adaptation policies, institutional processes and their implementation another step forward in the coming years.  The support was mainly focused on the design of the German-funded NAP and NDC Support Programme that aims to help selected sector ministries in Bangladesh to improve processes for integrating climate risks and national adaptation goals into planning and decision-making.

More concretely, this encompasses the operationalisation of the National Adaptation Plan process and the National Determined Contribution of Bangladesh to the  UNFCCC Paris Agreement. The continued German support will focus on further improving the integration of climate risks into the design of sectoral planning and implementation processes (with a focus on the agriculture, water management and health sector). Overall, this will help to further institutionalise better climate services into the governmental planning and budgetary processes in key line ministries. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of adaptation programming in Bangladesh, moving forward from a project-based approach to a more systematic approach.