South Asia’s climate has been hanging by a thread for ages now and with the passing of time, the chaos multiplies more rapidly than it dissolves. As per a report by Thomson Reuters Foundation, Barcelona, 18 million people have migrated within South Asian countries, which only exacerbates the existing circumstances of global warming causing temperatures to shoot up to triple what we’re experiencing today.
Other extremes that have also been predicted for the region are set to hit in 2050; these include forced homelessness of 63 million people, like a domino effect to rising sea levels that will inundate lands and homes. Additionally, drought-ridden lands will not be able to grow crops. While it’s commendable that we are now sensitized to the socio-economic hazards associated with climate change, what’s needed on a national level is to familiarize the public with jargons that are used to denote climate change and the activities taken in stride to make South Asian nations more resilient to changing weathers. This will put into perspective why climate change holds so much importance globally as well as the correlation between manmade choices and natural disasters and how nations can act fast before hitting the tipping point of extreme climate and more than we already have.
Here are a few basic jargons in climate change that are relevant for current times, considering there’s significant mention of their application across the many disaster risk reduction and environmental conservation projects conducted in Bangladesh as well as all of South Asia. The following terms are relevant to climate change as per BBC reports and IUCN Nepal.
Adaptation Framework Policy (AFP)
Adaptation Framework Policy (AFP) is a structural process for developing adaptation strategies, policies and measures to enhance and ensure human development when encountering climate change as well as climate variability. The AFP covers climate adaptation, sustainable development as well as global environmental issues. It is made of five basic components scoping and designing an adaptation project, assessing current vulnerability, characterizing future climate risks, developing adaptation strategies, and continuing the process of adaptation.
The framework brings to light the dire need for National Adaptation Plan (NAP) as mandated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for all countries to take into account. As a result of which, the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) was developed over a decade ago, followed by a Climate Change Trust Fund to support hundreds of projects by government ministries as well as agencies. The BCCSAP is currently undergoing a revision in order to launch us forward to 2030 in terms of climate resilience.
Air Quality Index (AQI)
Air Quality Index (AQI) is an indicator of the air quality of the country and the environment we live in. It gives a measurement of how healthy or unhealthy the air is, the health risks associated with air pollution and also reports the effect the air quality has on our health after a few days or hours of breathing polluted air. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates AQI using the five major air pollutants as per the Clean Air Act standards. This includes ground-level ozone, particle pollution also known as particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. EPA has established national air quality standards to safeguard public health. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the air quality is also something that has come under the limelight due to its devastating conditions. Reports on national dailies have stated that construction work, dust, vehicle emission, brick kilns, burning of fossil fuel, trees and leaves have all contributed to these alarming levels of air pollution in Bangladesh. “According to the Air Quality Index monitored by the DoE’s Clean Air and Sustainable Environment (CASE) project, the average AQI in Dhaka was 117.4 in October and 194 in November.” An AQI from 201-300 is labeled as very unhealthy; and 301-500 is certified as extremely unhealthy, which goes to show we’re not far from irreversible damage.
IUCN Nepal terms biological hazard as, “the process by which organic origin or conveyed by biological vectors including exposure to pathogenic micro-organisms, toxins and bioactive substances that may result in loss of life, injury, illness or other health impacts, property damage, loss of livelihoods and services, social and economic disruption or environmental damage is known as biological hazard. Examples of biological hazards include outbreaks of epidemic diseases, plant or animal contagion, insect or other animal plagues and infestations.”
This hits home in 2020, as we continue to live through a pandemic and remain exposed to an unseen virus; what makes it more catastrophic is despite the government giving a crackdown on making face masks the norm during the COVID-19 outbreak, people not only avoid wearing masks but also continue to dispose of single-use surgical masks in public places. This eventually comes back to our environment, contaminating water bodies, clogging drains and sewage systems, thus impacting climate and biodiversity as a whole. This was addressed on an op-ed on Prothom Alo saying that a recent research revealed that 1,592 tonnes of waste surgical masks have been found in Bangladesh from 26 March to 25 April.
Where climate change is concerned, capacity building means developing the technical skills and institutional levels in developing countries and economies in order to enable them to participate in all aspects of adaptation to, mitigation of, and research on climate change and the implementation of the Kyoto Mechanism. International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) has addressed capacity building in the context of Bangladesh and climate change in alignment with the Paris Agreement.
As a result of which, the Capacity Building Hub event was hosted for the third year at the 25th Conference of the Parties- COP25 at Madrid, Spain. It focused on seven different thematic days, with a focus on capacity building day. The platform brought diverse communities under one roof through presentations and discussions on adaptation, mitigation, loss and damage, agriculture, tracking and measuring activities, youth capacity-building and the work of academia.