The leaders of the government and opposition parties have announced their specific commitment to the development of the coastal region in the election manifesto. They announced this while participating in the National Coastal Dialogue entitled ‘Coastal People’s Manifesto’ at the National Press Club on October 16, 2023.

Mr. Nikhil Chandra Bhadra, coordinator of the Sundarbans and Coastal Protection Movement, presided over the dialogue organized by LEDARS and ‘Participatory Research and Action Network-PRAN’. Mr. Shekhar Dutta, Member of Awami League Election Manifesto Drafting Sub-Committee, Mr. Sunil Shubo, Presidium Member Roy of Jatiya Party, Mr. Saiful Haque, General Secretary of Revolutionary Workers Party, Advocate Mr. Subrata Chowdhury, General Secretary of Gano Forum, Mr. Bajlur Rashid Feroze, General Secretary of Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal (BASAD), Mr. Manbendra Deb, Central Committee Member of Communist Party of Bangladesh-CPB, Mr. Mustafa Alamgir Ratan, Central Committee Member of Bangladesh Workers Party were present as special guest in this dialogue.

The Chief Negotiator in the dialogue was prominent media personality Mr. Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul. Mr. Shyamal Dutta, General Secretary of National Press Club, Mr. Sharif Jamil, Coordinator of Waterkeepers-Bangladesh, Mr. Khairuzzaman Kamal, Treasurer of Bangladesh Federal Journalist Union, Mr. Kawsar Rahman, President of Bangladesh Climate Change Journalist Forum, Professor Mir Muhammad Ali of Shere Bangla Agricultural University and Mr. Rafiqul Islam, Former President Dhaka Reporters Unity, Mr. Nazmul Ahsan, Manager of Action Aid and others participated in the discussion. Mr. Mohon Kumar Mondal, Executive Director of LEDARS presented the keynote at the dialogue and Mr. Nurul Alam Masud, Chief Executive of PRAN delivered the welcome speech.
All the speakers demanded declaring coastal zone as most climate vulnerable area, providing special allocation in the national budget for protection and development of coastal area, forming Coastal Development Board for sustainable development, ensuring safe drinking water, introducing “One House One Shelter” project in coastal area, protecting the coastal World Heritage Sundarbans ecosystem by taking effective measures and by planting trees and building green belt on the coast and constructing and repairing permanent and strong embankment.

Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul said since the election manifesto is a written document of a political party, it would be a big achievement if the climate issue is included in the manifestoes of p9olitical parties this time. “It will also be seen how much those who will come to power have implemented the manifesto. The opposition parties must put pressure on the government to implement its promises,” he added.

Expressing his agreement with the demands raised in the dialogue, Awami League leader Mr. Shekhar Dutta said that balanced development of the whole country is the promise of the present Awami League led government. The entire coastal region was neglected for a long time before Awami League came to power. After Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led government assumed power, special steps have been taken for the development of region. Different projects including construction of sustainable embankment, clean water system have been taken up, he mentioned. He promised to mention a separate section for the coast in the ruling Awami League election manifesto for formulating an integrated development plan in the future.

Jatiya Party presidium member Sushil Shubo Roy said that only those who are in power implement their manifesto and they are not giving importance to the advice of the opposition parties. He called for building a regional movement to deal with the risk of climate change.

Saiful Haque, General Secretary of Biplobi Workers Party, said that the way in which reproductive health of girls is being disrupted due to climate change is a cause of great concern. He described coal-based power plants as a threat to the southern region of the country saying that it would cause various problems in the environment and nature.

“Millions of people will be displaced due to climate change in the next few years. Therefore, these projects must be stopped to protect the south-western region. Besides, the displaced people should be protected through proper planning,” he added.

General Secretary of Gano Forum Subrata Chowdhury questioned the necessity of manifesto as he said an uncertainty is looming large of holding the next elections. “We are bringing climate funds by begging from abroad. But the funds are being plundered and looted. Today, political leaders are occupying rivers, seas and mountains,” he regretted.