New research published today by Climate Strategies and the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) concludes that Bangladesh’s climate policies must integrate Just Transitions to build resilience to increasingly severe climate hazards, boost green employment and decrease inequality.

Bangladesh is one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries and faces a future of rapidly accelerating climate disasters. The country’s GDP is expected to decline by up to 9% due to severe flooding, tropical cyclones are costing the nation an annual economic loss of $1 billion, and water scarcity and rising sea levels may lead to 13.3 million internal migrants over the next 30 years.

Just Transitions can help to address these issues by leveraging the shift towards a low-carbon, sustainable economy to uplift communities, create diverse and green employment opportunities, and ensure that marginalized voices are included in decision-making processes.

For example, Just Transitions can take advantage of the shift towards greener ready-made garments (RMG) production to reduce inequalities. The RMG sector is known for causing environmental harm to surrounding areas and perpetuating poor working conditions. As the RMG sector transitions to low-carbon production practices, the sector could take the opportunity to boost social protections for workers and improve working conditions.

Just Transitions can also support efforts to adapt to the rapidly changing climate in Bangladesh. Almost 50% of Bangladesh’s population is employed in agriculture – a sector which is predicted to lose one third of its GDP by 2050 due to climate variability and extreme events. Larger producers have the finances to adapt to these changes, but smallholder farmers may not have the resources to invest in new methods, like using drought-resilient crops. A Just Transition would ensure that smallholder farmers are not excluded from Bangladesh’s adaptation policies.

This report also shows that education is an essential part of Just Transitions. New education programmes should provide opportunities for children from varied socio-economic backgrounds to access courses that will prepare them for green jobs. To prevent climate disasters impacting long-term education attainment, it will also be key to develop resilient education systems and ensure equitable access to these new opportunities.

The report concludes with a set of recommendations to inform decision-makers, policymakers, and stakeholders about potential strategies and actions that can facilitate a smooth and fair transition towards a low-carbon economy in Bangladesh. By integrating these recommendations into future policies and initiatives, Bangladesh can proactively address climate change while simultaneously promoting social equity and sustainable economic growth.

Dr. Shamsad Mortuza, project lead of the Just Transitions campaign in Bangladesh, explained why Just Transitions will be vital:

“The climate crisis has already arrived in Bangladesh: air pollution is a major health and financial problem, and the nation is facing a future of sea-level rise, increasingly powerful cyclones, floods, and more. Government ministries need to coordinate to enact a just transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient society that leaves no one behind.”

Notes to the editor:

This report launched today is the last in a series of research reports published under Climate Strategies’ South to South Just Transitions initiative, which explores the unique challenges and opportunities of transitions in countries in the Global South.

About South to South Just Transitions

Led by Climate Strategies, this multi-year project brings together research institutions across nine countries in the Global South, in a novel approach to developing alternative, and context-specific just transition strategies. Partners include: Dala Institute  (Indonesia), Fedesarollo (Colombia), the University of Ghana, the University of Liberal Arts (Bangladesh), EfD Kenya, CEPA (Malawi), Hanoi University of Science and Technology (Vietnam), National University of Laos and Sociedad y Naturaleza (Argentina). Find out more.

About Climate Strategies

Climate Strategies works at the science-policy interface, advancing climate policy through meaningful interactions between decision-makers and researchers across Europe and internationally. We are an international, not-for-profit research network with an expansive network of world-leading researchers as members. Find out more at climatestrategies.org