Building Mangrove Greenbelts along Bangladesh's Vulnerable Coastline

29 Nov 2010

imageA woman in Char Kukri-Mukri tending to mangrove saplings which will be turned into a mangrove forest to protect the eroding coast. (Photo: UNDP in Bangladesh)

Bangladesh’s location makes it one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to environmental disasters. Its giant network of rivers and vast low-lying flood plains make it both fertile and subject to erosion from floods, droughts, and storms.

As a result, protective coastal greenbelts, in the form of natural vegetation, can make the difference between life and death during severe weather and increasingly frequent, and deadly, cyclones. Mangrove forests, in particular, are critical to providing this necessary defense thanks to their intricate root systems.

UNDP is working with the Government of Bangladesh and local communities to plant mangroves along the southern delta’s coastline. The programme is doing this by training local people to run mangrove nurseries and manage forests and then paying them, a move that will have benefited 5,000 families by the end of 2010.

“Many countries are recognizing the value of coastal greenbelts when it comes to protection against storm surges, swell waves and inundations,” said Firoz, who has been receiving training in nursery management in Char Kukri Mukri. “It’s very important I think to pick the right varieties, the right species and also to involve the communities in the plantations and the maintenance and the management of the plantations.”

Bangladesh is just one of the many countries grappling with the affects of sea level rise and the increased impacts of storms caused by climate change. Climate change threatens to undo decades of progress toward poverty reduction and poses barriers to attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Sustainable energy, clean water and productive land are essential to reducing poverty and, unless current trends of greenhouse gas emissions are reversed, the repercussions of climate change will irrevocably deny food, potable water and livelihoods to billions of people.

UNDP provides advisory and technical support services to help developing countries finance and implement policies that can help them combat the effects of climate change. By addressing the climate challenge through a development lens UNDP can bring a unique range of support to countries. And, as a neutral trusted partner, UNDP can advise on country-driven climate action and the most appropriate catalytic financing mechanisms.  This helps countries to achieve pro-poor, low-emissions climate resilient development, which also makes progress toward achieving the MDGs. 

Some other examples of UNDP’s projects to combat climate change include the Cambodia Climate Change Trust Fund, the Capacity Development for Decision Makers to Address Climate Change in Costa Rica, the Africa Adaptation Programme in Ghana, the Turning Waste into Energy in Ukraine, and the Community-Based Adaptation in Morocco.

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