Climate Parliament, in collaboration with The Earth Society and Observer Research Foundation, successfully organized the 'Regional Climate Summit in Dhaka' from the 8th to the 10th of September 2023. This groundbreaking event was spearheaded by prominent climate parliamentarians from Bangladesh, including MPs Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Tanvir Shakil Joy, Nahim Razzaq, and Washiqa Ayesha Khan. It also witnessed active participation from numerous MPs representing South Asian countries, including Dr Sanjay Jaiswal (India), Iran Wickramaratne (Sri Lanka), Gyem Dorji (Bhutan) and Madhav Sapkota (Nepal). The primary focus of this inaugural regional summit was to forge a shared vision and collaborative actions for a ‘Resilient South Asia.’
The three-day summit featured four thematic segments: ‘Environment and Climate Change,’ ‘Water and Waste,’ ‘Future of Energy,’ and ‘Regional Cooperation and Regional Climate Fund.’ These segments included a total of 18 sessions, featured 90 speakers, and attracted over 400 participants.
During the closing ceremony of the summit, a significant milestone was achieved as a 'Declaration' was adopted. This declaration highlighted the alarming prospect of South Asian economies facing a potential annual reduction of up to 9% by the end of the century due to the adverse impacts of climate change. This estimate does not account for the additional financial burden resulting from extreme weather events.
The Declaration also emphasized the pivotal role of the Paris Agreement in recognizing the importance of ocean and ecosystem integrity in combatting climate change’s adverse effects and limiting global average temperature increase to within 1.5 degrees Celsius. It underscored the vulnerability of the South Asian region to climate change, including threats such as floods, sea-level rise, and ocean acidification. The Declaration stressed the urgency of prioritizing resilience and adaptation efforts in countries severely affected by climate change and called for the realization of ‘One Sun One World One Grid’ through interconnected energy grids to help meet the Paris Agreement targets.
The Summit further committed to promoting regional cooperation in the energy sector, enhancing both regional and national policies and regulatory frameworks to facilitate Cross-Border Electricity Trade (CBET), and integrating renewable energy sources into the electricity generation sector. It highlighted that by exploring regional market opportunities and fostering economic collaboration, South Asia could create an environment conducive to investment, advancing sustainable development and enhancing the resilience of regional economies. The declaration called upon South Asian parliamentarians to establish an institutional framework through a regional parliamentary forum for sustained engagement on regional energy cooperation.
Additionally, during the Summit, Climate Parliament, in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), organized a special thematic discussion on ‘South Asia Parliamentarians' Roundtable on Regional Parliamentary Forum for Enhancing Regional Energy Cooperation: Bangladesh Consultation’ on September 10th. This initiative brought together MPs from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, alongside energy experts and policy makers. The objective was to foster collaboration and harness the energy resources’ potential in the region. The consultation aimed to enhance cross-border energy trade, strengthen infrastructure, and promote renewable energy sources, leading to improved energy security and economic growth for the entire region. During a two-hour discussion, parliamentarians outlined the broad contours of the Parliamentarians’ regional forum for energy cooperation.
Furthermore, on the occasion of the Summit, a delegation from Climate Parliament South Asia and USAID met with Dr. Shrin Sharmin Chaudhury, Honorable Speaker of the Bangladesh Parliament, at Jatiya Sansad Bhaban. Dr. Shrin advocated for increased parliamentarian involvement in policymaking and implementing climate policies. She praised the pivotal role of Climate Parliament and extended her support for the organization's future activities, focusing on capacity building and policy interventions for a substantial number of parliamentarians.