Sohanur Rahman ::

The urgent need for amplified funding to bolster locally-led adaptation initiatives, particularly in Char communities grappling with loss and damage, was fervently advocated for at the Youth-led Char Summit held on March 5, 2024. The summit, organized by Youth Net for Climate Justice & Protiki Jubo Sangshad in collaboration with the British Council, convened at the Char Youth Net Village in Jatrapur Union, Kurigram Sadar, serving as a pivotal platform to address the profound impacts of climate change on Char communities in the Kurigram district.

Speakers and stakeholders echoed the critical necessity of increased financing to strengthen resilience and maximize the effectiveness of adaptation efforts in the most vulnerable communities, notably those inhabiting Char regions. They emphasized the significant disparity between the current funding levels and the genuine requisites, with Bangladesh receiving only 3% of the essential funding for adaptation measures. Despite the Bangladesh government allocating roughly 7% of its annual budget to climate adaptation, primarily from domestic sources, the envisaged upscaling outlined in the National Adaptation Plan mandates a sevenfold surge in expenditure.

The summit, themed “Spotlighting Char: Youth Leadership in Adapting Climate Risks for Resilient Futures,” emphasized the urgent need for locally-led adaptation efforts to bolster climate resilience in vulnerable regions. Situated on the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta, Bangladesh faces unique geographical challenges, making it particularly susceptible to climate change. Char possesses its own power and community resilience, particularly the indomitable energy of unbeatable youth.

Abdul Ghafoor, Chairman of Jatrapur Union Parishad of Kurigram, British Council Bangladesh Program Manager Abdur Rahman, Kurigram Sadar Upazila Vice Chairman Mocha Afroza Begum Alpana, Roumari Upazila Mahila Vice Chairman Mahmuda Akhtar Smriti, Journalist Sofi Khan, Youth net Executive Coordinator Sohanur Rahman,  Obidul Islam, technical specialist of Save the Children and others were present in the day-long conference.

Sujan Mohanto, Convener of the Char Summit organizing committee, outlined the vision behind the You Adapt project, aimed at empowering youth in climate adaptation, particularly in Char areas. Funded from the proceeds of Britain’s King Charles III’s birthday and coronation reception in Dhaka last June, the project is designed to empower the youth most affected by climate change, with a particular focus on those in the Char areas, natural islands formed in river basins from sand and silt deposition due to melting glaciers and riverbank erosion of Kurigram district. The ‘You Adapt’ project is poised to lead local-level advocacy, youth-led climate justice campaigns, and the facilitation of Char Summit on climate risk reduction, emphasisng loss and damage mitigation. In Inaugural speech by the Abdur Rahman, Program Manager-Non Formal Education of the British Council underscored the indispensable role of youth in driving climate action and fostering resilience in vulnerable communities.

A dynamic panel discussion titled “Voices from the Char Youth Net: Community Perspectives on Local Adaptation Strategies and Challenges” provided a platform for local leaders and experts to share insights and experiences. Sohanur Rahman, Executive Coordinator of the Youth Net for Climate Justice modarted panel while panelists highlighted the urgent need for tailored adaptation strategies to mitigate climate risks and enhance resilience in Char communities, with a spotlight on youth-driven initiatives.

Acknowledging the resilience and determination of Char inhabitants in transforming their environments from sandy landscapes into vibrant ecosystems, speakers highlighted the persistent challenges faced by these communities in accessing education, healthcare, and other fundamental rights. They passionately advocated for the equitable distribution of rights and opportunities for Char residents, aligning with those enjoyed by mainland populations. Against the backdrop of relentless natural calamities shaping Bangladesh’s socio-economic landscape, stakeholders stressed the paramount importance of allocating funds for locally-led adaptation initiatives in Char regions. They underscored the imperative for collaborative efforts among development partners, governments, and civil society to confront the multifaceted challenges compounded by climate change.

The summit culminated in the presentation of the Local Adaptation Plan of Action (LAPA) by Jimran Mohammad Saik. The LAPA delineates concrete actions and interventions aimed at strengthening climate resilience and promoting sustainable development in Char areas.

The summit concluded with the issuance of the “Char Summit Declaration” by Sawpan Kumar Sarkar youth leaders from Kurigram, reaffirming the commitment to collective action and resilience-building in Char communities. Abdul Gafur, Chairman of the Jatrapur Union Council, Kurigram, emphasized the necessity of collaborative efforts in confronting the multifaceted challenges faced by Char communities.

The summit featured vibrant cultural performances celebrating the rich heritage of the Char Youth Net. Attendees engaged in networking sessions and explored stalls showcasing innovative adaptation projects, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange.

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