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Asia

Bangladeshi foreign secretary raises the issue of climate change in Berlin

Bangladesh incurs annual losses of almost 2 percent of GDP due to extreme weather. The country's foreign secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes was recently in Berlin to discuss climate change.

Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes talks to Grahame Lucas, the head of DW's South Asia service

Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes talks to Grahame Lucas, the head of DW's South Asia service

Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently urged developed countries to provide technical and financial assistance to help her country cope with the challenges of climate change.

Germany is an important partner in this field, as Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes told Deutsche Welle in Berlin: "The climate change issue is of serious importance to us. There has to be a change in our lifestyle."

He added that Bangladesh was collaborating with Germany on "renewable energy, solar energy and cleaner coal-based power generation".

Bangladesh is at the mercy of extreme weather

Bangladesh, which is overcrowded with its population of over 160 million, has a vast river delta that has left it at the mercy of extreme weather such as drought and heavy rain.

Cyclone Aila wreaked havoc in May 2009

Cyclone Aila wreaked havoc in May 2009

Cyclones and floods are an ongoing plight. Severe hunger and disease are common.

Moreover, the country is constantly subject to electricity shortages and there is a lack of clean drinking water.

Rising sea levels are a major concern

Thousands have been made homeless by flooding in Bangladesh in the past decade

Thousands have been made homeless by flooding in Bangladesh in the past decade

A major concern is that large parts of the country could be inundated in the near future because of rising sea levels caused by global warming, Mohamed Mijarul Quayes explained.

"For Bangladesh, this could result by 2050 in the inundation of 20 percent of our territory. That means the displacement of 25 million people, including women and children. This displacement has other implications for the global community.

"Because the moment you have people uprooted from where they were, there is a potential movement of people, and this ties in with trafficking, gun running and drugs and a whole spectrum of security issues."

Global response needed to face challenges

What is already happening in Bangladesh is a warning of what is to come but the foreign minister is not pessimistic. He thinks that if there is a concerted international effort to fight climate change, his country will be able to face the challenges.

Every time there is a cyclone, victims are left without food and clean drinking water

Every time there is a cyclone, victims are left without food and clean drinking water

"Europe and Germany are important for Bangladesh. A multilateral process is important. Over the years, we have seen that the crises and challenges that face us are of a global proportion, whether you talk about terrorism, recession or climate change. These challenges require a global response and to create the global response you need to build the bridges."

Mohamed Mijarul Quayes was in Germany to build these bridges, which he hopes will be strong enough to weather the storm.

Author: Jaisu Bhullar
Editor: Anne Thomas

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