International Mother Earth Day will be observed in Bangladesh and other countries today, with many people, wildlife and plant species facing threats to existence due to climate change and manmade disasters.

One million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, as victims of climate change and other manmade disasters to the nature, said a UN report titled ‘Nature’s Dangerous Decline Unprecedented; Species Extinction Rates Accelerating’.

Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23 per cent of the global land surface, up to $577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss and 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection, according to the report.

Several scientific researches in Bangladesh revealed that many natural disasters were happening frequently in the country and an estimated 4.5 crore people were facing a threat of being displaced for the sea-level rise by 2050.

Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute principal scientific officer Md Abdur Rashid and Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute chief scientific officer Md Anisur Rahman predicted irreparable loss of biodiversity and increased food insecurity and water crisis due to climate change.

They said that for climate change, geographically and environmentally vulnerable Bangladesh had become even more susceptible as the pattern of rainfall had changed, untimely and excessive floods were taking place, draught was hitting the northern part of the country and water in the southern part was becoming salty.

‘Productions of crops like wheat, maze and lentil and some other vegetables are in threat for the change of weather pattern and the increase in temperature and untimely rainfall,’ Abdur Rashid told New Age.

‘Crop variants in the southern part of the country may face a serious threat in future for brackish water intrusion in the country,’ he said.

BFRI chief scientific officer Md Anisur Rahman said that the production of all types of sweet water fishes would be affected for the increase of salinity, which had already reached near Jeshore and was moving towards the centre of the country.

As Bangladesh is ranked as the seventh most vulnerable country to climate change, scientists and environmentalists urged the government to initiate effective and transparent programmes in the light of this year’s International Mother Earth Day theme ‘Restore Our Earth’.

Through the theme, the UN on its website has urged all nations for a shift to a more sustainable economy that works for both people and the planet at a time when all the countries of the world were facing the surge in Covid infections and various other natural disasters.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina being invited by US president Joe Biden would participate in an online summit on Climate Change today along with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Russian president Vladimir Putin and leaders of 37 other countries marking International Mother Earth Day, said forest, environment and climate change ministry officials.

The ministry will not organise any other programme today as some senior officials responsible for dealing with the issue died of or infected by Covid-19 in the past few days, they added.

Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan will hold an online discussion programme on the impact of climate change on Bangladeshi rivers.

Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan general secretary Sharif Jamil and Dhaka University geography and environment professor M Maksudur Rahman urged the government for mounting pressure on rich countries that were responsible for a huge carbon emission, posing threats to geographically vulnerable countries like Bangladesh.

They urged the government to develop efficiency to negotiate with international bodies for getting a maximum share of international funds for introducing environment-friendly technologies and renewable energy in the country.  

‘Though we are not contributing much to climate change, we are facing frequent flash floods, untimely errant rainfalls which result in river erosion, landslides and waterlogging for the problem,’ Maksud told New Age.

 ‘People are becoming homeless for such natural disasters and so, the government must take compensations and technologies for environmental-friendly development,’ he said.

Sharif Jamil stressed focusing more on renewable energy sources, increasing coverage of forests and bringing back the flow of the common rivers negotiating with India.

‘We should review the plans of developing power plants and factories near the Sunderbans,’ Jamil said.

The transparency and efficiency of the projects must be ensured, he said.

The forest, environment and climate change minister Md Shahab Uddin said that the government had been dealing with the climate change issue for more than a decade despite contributing least to the problem.

So far, 789 projects have been undertaken at an estimated cost of Tk 3,362.32 crore from Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund, Shahab claimed.

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