The impact of climate change coupled with withdrawal of upstream waters has threatened Bangladesh's water security, say researchers.
The country ranked the most vulnerable country in a 2014 climate change index and its vulnerability has been manifested in the crisis of displacement of people.
"Water security has been threatened by the impact of climate change. Ground water levels have fallen drastically and salinity has increased. Also 23 rivers in Bangladesh have dried up due to upstream withdrawal of waters, exacerbating the crisis," professor Abu Zayed Mohammed observed in the keynote presentation at a seminar on Monday.
The ‘boat people’ exodus in 2015, which made global headlines, is a glaring example of the fallout of climate change, the discussants told the seminar on 'Security Implications on Climate Change: Focus on Bangladesh', organised by Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS).
Moderated by BIPSS president ANM Muniruzzaman, the seminar was also addressed by Peter Hefele, director of regional project at Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and Ina F Islam, assistant director at ICCAD.
Professor Zayed said climate change was a threat multiplier, having direct and indirect implications for military operations, water security, food security, livelihoods security and so on.
He enunciated major elements of climate change security as international relations, economic status, migration, human rights, development, trade, health and environment systems and rising temperatures.
The expert highlighted seriousness of food security in Bangladesh, saying that about 60 million people in the country were food insecure.
Social cohesion may also break down, he expressed apprehension.
"Regional instability was another factor that could lead to conflicts. Human displacements would trigger waves of illegal emigration to neighbouring states," he said adding that it could even outnumber the refugees emanating from the Syrian crisis.
Muniruzzaman said Bangladesh being a frontline country facing climate change effects might face far-reaching consequences.
He informed the gathering that a final report on ‘Security Implications on Climate Change: Focus on Bangladesh’ would be published shortly.
Peter Hefele linked the issues of energy security with climate change and said fundamental changes were needed in the way "we consume energy".
Underlining the importanc eof energy transformation by leaving fossil-based resources and moving towards a new future, he pointed out how Germany has phased out nuclear power.
"It's difficult, but the right way ahead," he said, pointing to a dramatic increase in ideas and new concepts in Asia that could be shared with the rest of the world.
He said up-to-date data regarding climate change would help unleash the creativity of the new generation so that they can find new solutions to the problem.
Recommendations to tackle the climate change, as presented, include innovative research, effective mass awareness, transparency and accountability, regional and international cooperation and strengthening as well as implementing national energy legislations.
Commenting on the research findings, Ina Islam said it is high time to think out of the box, to break the existing paradigms and innovate.
She stressed the need to invest in education and engage in all sections of the population, especially in women. She called for collaboration and cooperation between action partners, research partners and the government.