“We are here in Dhaka to learn -- learn from Bangladesh’s experiences and vision,” he said at the inauguration of the Dhaka meeting of the ‘Global Commission on Adaptation’ on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was the chief guest.
Ban Ki-moon is the chair of the Commission that promotes the idea of adaptation along with mitigation when it comes to climate change.
Bangladesh is known as the climate vulnerable country.
If sea levels rise by just one metre, 17 percent of Bangladesh would be under water by 2050, according to the IPCC. Another UN report showed Dhaka itself could be engulfed by a slight rise in sea level.
Ban Ki-moon referred to the 1970s when a cyclone killed half a million people.
But there were only 12 fatalities during Cyclone Fani in Bangladesh. “Thanks to the more accurate weather forecasting, community based early warning system and cyclone centres -- 1.6 million people were moved to safety.”
“That leadership what Bangladesh people and government have achieved in the practice of adaptation is nothing short of miraculous,” the former UN chief said.
“Let us all be inspired by the examples Bangladesh government and people have shown in addressing climate change by wisely and effectively to adapting to this climate change.”
He said when it comes to adaptation, “our best teachers are opened doors who are on the front lines of climate change.
“A few countries have more to teach the rest of the world than Bangladesh. Bangladesh is thus the best teacher to learn about adaptation,” he said.
In 2009, Bangladesh became the first country in the world to create national adaptation programme of action.
In 1970s, a cyclone killed half a million of people in Bangladesh. “Now you have effective adaptation system. You can save property and human lives. This is adaptation in action. This is why we are here to learn from you and send message far and wide from Dhaka,” Ban Ki-moon said.
He said he had very good discussion with the prime minister before this inaugural meeting. “We like to establish an adaptation centre in Dhaka here.”
Another reason to hold this meeting in Dhaka is to speed up “action on adaptation”.
“Communities all over the world need help. There are many countries who are just as vulnerable as Bangladesh, but which have not the ability to build resilience on their own,” he said.
“I was in China 10 days ago where we established an adaptation centre in Beijing.”
He also cited Bangladesh’s long-term plan for the resilience of the delta, Delta Plan 2100, with the help of Netherlands.
“We need to share this adaptation practices.”
“We can urgently and cost-effectively find ways to support communities affected by climate change. We can help them survive and thrive. Adaption is a smart investment.”
“The climate change is approaching much faster than one may think. In this regard, we don’t have any time to lose.”
He said his commission will publish its flagship report soon. “This will be a different report. I can assure you that.”
“This will be action-oriented.”
World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva, who is the co-chair of the commission, also spoke at the inauguration of the meeting that will prepare a set of recommendations on climate change adaptation for the UN.