Bangladesh PM seeks early climate fund disbursement

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday urged donors countries to come up quickly with promised funds to help her country limit the effects of climate change.

Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina waves to her supporters as she arrives at a May day procession organised by the workers front of ruling Awami League at Paltan in Dhaka May 1, 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj/Files

World leaders pledged an initial $10 billion fund at the December climate summit in Copenhagen to help least developed countries (LDCs) most vulnerable to climate change, particularly low-lying costal states like Bangladesh.

“Bangladesh needs quick disbursement of the fund promised in Copenhagen ... as we have already started mitigation programmes,” she told a donors’ conference.

“We have built 100 new cyclone shelters and more are on the way, under 134 climate change action plans.”

Opening the two-day meeting called Bangladesh Development Forum, she urged participants to increase the pledged climate fund. Bangladesh, she said, had earmarked a $100 million Climate Change Fund in its 2009-10 (July-June) fiscal budget in addition to a $150 million fund raised with assistance from donors.

The environment ministry has said Bangladesh is entitled to ask for at least 15 percent of the climate adaptation fund pledged at the Copenhagen summit.

Climate experts say at least 20 million of Bangladesh’s more than 150 million people will be displaced, and one-fifth of the country’s 140,800 sq. km (55,000 sqm) land surface will be inundated if sea levels rise by one metre by 2050.

Donors in attendance included the United States, European Union, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The meeting is to review Bangladesh’s development programmes, including plans to reduce poverty and help donors select areas of cooperation.

Disaster management officials said Bangladesh has more than 2,500 shelters for some 2.5 million people. But these are inssufficient for more than 20 million coastline residents.

The meeting is the first of its kind since Hasina returned to power following a December 2008 parliamentary election that ended a two-year period of rule by an army-backed interim government.

Bangladesh annually receives some $1.5 billion in assistance from donors.

Editing by Anis Ahmed and Ron Popeski