Climate budget allocation must put climate change issues at centre

Climate budget allocation is inadequate compared to the need of societies and economies to adapt to the adverse effects and reduce the impacts of climate change. Climate change budget must incorporate climate-change induced migration and loss and damages. And the differential impact of climate change on women threatens to undermine advancement of women’s empowerment in social development and politics.

Thus, it is necessary to give attention to the gender dimension of climate change to develop specific and effective climate action plans that address the risks women face.

One significant challenge is that government ministries, departments and agencies have less conceptual understanding of the climate budget than of the more established gender budget and gender responsive climate budgeting is a new arena for exploration.

These observations were made by climate experts, stakeholders, discussants, and journalists during a webinar, ‘Stakeholder Consultation on Bangladesh Climate Budget FY 2021-22,’ organised by ActionAid Bangladesh on Tuesday, said a press release.

Dr Mizan R Khan, Professor, Environmental Science and Management at North South University, Ferdousi Begum, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, and Farah Kabir, Country Director of ActionAid Bangladesh attended the event as panelists.

In the webinar, experts tried to find and discuss the climate budget analysis from the point of human rights and focus on the ground reality to understand the relevance and effectiveness of climate expenditure. They also expressed the concern that climate budget allocation has been significantly reduced for different ministries in comparison with the last year.

Climate experts observed that less than 8 per cent of the budget of the twenty-five key ministries and divisions of Bangladesh has been allocated for climate change which is Tk 251.25 billion (25,124.98 crore) and accounts for 57.33 percent of the total national budget of FY2021-22. But within this allocation, Tk 102.86 billion (10,286.17 crore) has been allocated under operating budget and Tk 148.39 billion (14,838.81 crore) under development budget. And compared to last year’s allocation, the budget for FY2021-22 has decreased from 7.48 per cent to 7.26 per cent.

The budget allocation for the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in FY 2021-22 stands at Tk 3.79 billion (379.21 crore) which has been decreased by Tk 198.3 million (19.83 crore) compared to last year’s revised budget. There is also a significant budget reduction of Tk 4.27 billion (427.19 crore) for the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR). Climate budget allocation for the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MoFL) has been also decreased by Tk 1.13 billion (113.32 crore).

It is true that we are now going through a three-pronged crisis of Covid, climate and economy. Yet there is still a huge gap in leadership, consensus, planning, implementation, investment and allocation around the world in climate finance
Farah Kabir, Country Director, ActionAid Bangladesh

Mizan R Khan, Professor, Environmental Science and Management, North South University, shared his concern that climate financing from international sources might be decreased as an impact of transition process of Bangladesh from LDC. "85 per cent of the allocation for climate finance comes from the local sectors, so the local sectors must be given importance. At the same time, climate financing should come under transparency and accountability. It is advisable to implement the National Adaptation Plan locally and regionally,” he said.

He also marked the politics as an influencer to climate finance. In the case of climate finance, the issue of loss and damage must be taken into consideration, he added. He said that manpower could be exported through training the youth affected by climate change to utilise the country's demographic dividend. He also called upon the civil society to play a strong role in this regard.

Ferdousy Begum, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs has identified women and children as most vulnerable to any disaster. Government is trying to formulate a women and child friendly budget, she shared. She also appreciated that public participation is increasing through courtyard meetings, workshops, and many other activities. At the same time, she invited everyone to come forward to solve the climate crisis from their respective positions.

Farah Kabir, Country Director, ActionAid Bangladesh, said, "It is true that we are now going through a three-pronged crisis of Covid, climate and economy. Yet there is still a huge gap in leadership, consensus, planning, implementation, investment and allocation around the world in climate finance”. The impact of climate change must be kept in mind at the outset of any project, she added. She urged that development work be women and youth friendly. She also focused on working in coordination with different ministries to tackle the climate change.

She called for timely decisions on water, rainfall, land, and waste management. Farah Kabir also called on the government to provide additional funding to tackle climate change.

The participants of this webinar argued for developing a digital risk mapping and index, taking a gender-responsive and human rights-based approach, engaging people’s voice, focusing and investing more in adaptation and resilience building. They also stressed on establishing a joint taskforce which will allow policy makers and practitioners to take measures to reduce the risk in partnership with the communities.