Environmental Lectures at the EMK Center, Dhaka

The Edward M. Kennedy (EMK) Center, in collaboration with the Anushandhitshu Chokro Science Organization and Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), hosted an online lecture series consisting of three lectures on the impact of climate change on the environment of Bangladesh and related vulnerability issues. BEN/BAPA members were the speakers for this series.

Created in 2012, the EMK Center is a non-partisan platform that promotes open dialogue and personal and professional development. The Center is co-managed by the American Center of the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka & University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB). The EMK Center is named for the late U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who acted in support of the Bengali people during the Liberation War of 1971. Anushandhitshu Chokro Science Organization, founded in 1975, works on scientific outreach and fostering scientific thinking among the young people in Bangladesh.

1. The first speaker of this series, on August 11, 2021, was Dr. Md. Khalequzzaman, professor of Geology at Lock Haven University (LHU) and a founding member of the Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN). His talk, titled “Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 and Coastal Zone Management” elaborated on the pros and cons of Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 (BDP 2100) prepared by the General Economics Division (GED) of Bangladesh Planning Commission.

Faced with population growth and climate change, Bangladesh is challenged to sustain the economic growth and to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in coming decades. The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved the BDP 2100 which was prepared with assistance from the Government of the Netherlands. The overall objective of the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 is “to realize a sustainable and commonly agreed-upon strategy, with all relevant stakeholders, for an optimum level of water safety and food security as well as sustained economic growth of Bangladesh and a framework for its implementation.” Professor Md. Khalequzzaman discussed some aspects of the Delta Plan that would be counterproductive in combating the future with respect to floods and water supply.

2. On September 2, 2021, Dr. Abu Muhammad Zakir Hussain. MBBS, former Director of Primary Health Care & Disease Control, Directorate General of Health Services and Convenor, Committee on Health & Environment, BAPA presented a seminar titled “Climate Change: Disease and Vulnerability.”

Dr. Zakir Hussain described the effect of global warming on health. He elaborated on water-borne, allergen-borne and other vector-borne diseases, and how flood and rainfall variations affect causation of diseases. He also discussed the impacts on the health systems. He defined vulnerability to climate change and suggested fundamental activities to address the maladies of climate change.

3. The third lecture in this series was delivered by Mr. Sharif Jamil, General Secretary of BAPA, under the title “Saving Bangladesh Rivers and the Role of the Youth” on October 14, 2021. Mr. Jamil emphasized that to conserve our river systems it is important to raise awareness within the Bangladesh youth. It is only their voice which can stop the reckless encroachment and pollution that are destroying Bangladeshi rivers.

Mr. Sharif Jamil delivered a lecture on the adversities that the rivers in Bangladesh are currently facing. The online event was hosted by the EMK Center in Dhaka on October 14, 2021.

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Dr. Dipen Bhattacharya, is an astrophysicist and an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Moreno Valley College and a research physicist at UC Riverside. He is a best-selling science fiction author in his native Bangladesh.

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