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Sustainable Asia Leadership Program of ADB held in Manila

By Mozidur Rahman Biswas
Experts at the international conference on ‘Sustainable Asia-Pacific Leadership Program’ of Asian Development Bank(ADB) viewed that leaders having foresight, vision and commitment can strengthen sustainable development efforts to facilitate faster socio-economic transformation. Scholars and experts of ADB including its knowledge-based partners delivered on wide ranging matters connected to climate change and other issues for sustainable development in the region.

Large number of intellectuals, professionals and leaders of varied organizations of Asia-Pacific regions assembled in Manila on the occasion of ADB’s leadership program. Speakers in their presentation portrayed wide ranging problems connected to climate change and suggested ways and means to combat natural disasters by dynamic leadership in respective nations to address the problems with greater vision in the best interest of sustainable development for greater PROGRESS IN THE SOCIETY.

Speakers underscored the need of pragmatic leadership who will be able to stimulate national thinking by dint of their extra-ordinary talent and commitment. Speakers also underlined modalities for strengthening collaborative efforts in the relevant fields to facilitate sustainable development for ensuring socio-economic transformation in the region.

5-day’s conference from 10-14 September, 2012 on ‘Sustainable Asia Leadership Program’ of Asian Development Bank(ADB) at the ADB Headquarter in Manila, Philippines dealt core environmental issues, worldwide challenges, key ecosystems services and explored inter-linkages of environmental issues for strengthening sustainable development. Prof. Dr. M Alimullah Miyan, Vice-Chancellor of International University of Business Agriculture and Technology (IUBAT) and Chairperson, South Asian Disaster Management Centre (SADMC) highlighted major problems of Bangladesh in his comprehensive presentation on ‘National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA): Bangladesh Case Study.

The conference was represented by important leaders from different sectors including promising professionals from governments, NGOs and business society across Central Asia, and resource persons from international organizations and business sectors. Speakers exchanged views on wide ranging issues connected to climate change for finding out appropriate modalities to address the emerging problems in the best interest of sustainable development.

Divided by plenary session, round table discussing, working group and group discussion the program identified some specific ground rules, guidance for operational matters. The participants in their deliberations explained the homegrown knowledge about their region, identified sustainable development priorities to feed into country programming.

Leaders and professionals from government, private sector and civil society across Central Asia to provide a comprehensive assessment of sustainability issues in the context of global challenges and priorities of central Asia. ADB program placed a special focus on the issues of the Green Economy, Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, Water and Water related issues and provided new insight into the sustainable development in Asia-Pacific Region in line with global changes.

Manila conference comprehensively dealt modalities of the transition from ‘what ‘ to ‘how’ to strengthen sustainable development to strengthen the collaborating activities across the organizations and the stakeholders at large for managing complexity, and building resiliency into effective action. The proceedings moved ahead for identifying problems and thereby adopting action plan to address them in the light of sustainable development priorities necessary to feed into country programming.

ADB conference diagnosed leadership in consideration of appropriate concepts focusing on mind, body and soul of the leaders incorporating contextual and relational aspects with full range skills of human dimension. Leadership are based on some vital principles as laid down by celebrated scholars and personalities of all times :

(a) Discovering the passion, persistence and imagination to get results, to be able to find the Wow factor and to be able to think the weird thoughts necessary to learn and thrive in a disruptive age, as pronounced by Tom Peters,

(b) Leadership is about getting people to go where they would not have gone on their own, as said by Ian Cheshire Kingfisher,

(c) Leadership is a composite of courage and character: courage to take one’s society from where it is to where it has never been; and character to withstand the assaults with which the familiar defends itself , as said by Henry Kissinger and lastly

(d) Courage is being scared to death—but saddling up anyway as enunciated by John Wayne.

Mr.Seethapathy Chander, Director General of the Regional and Sustainable Development Department (RSDD) concurrently Chief Compliance Officer of the Asian Development Bank(ADB and Mr.Vinod Thomas, Director General of Independent Evaluation (IED) responsible for developing the effectiveness of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) were among high profile outstanding speakers assembled at the ADB’s Sustainable Asia Leadership Program in Manila.

ADB Manila conference drew upon the challenges and experience of the Asia Pacific Leadership Program on Environment for Development. this sort of program is convened regularly on an annual basis over the past one decade. The three hallmarks of the program are : (1) Stimulate all-round thinking and decision making abilities for emerging and mid-career leaders from the government, civil society and private enterprises in Central Asia;(2) Promote integration of environment and sustainable development issues for effective decision making and ;(3)Networking on the issues of the Green Economy, Climate Change, Water and Water related issues between emerging leaders in Central Asia representing Government, civil society and the private sector.

The objective of the program was to inspire leadership and empower participants in a manner appropriate to Asia-Pacific through the acquisition of regionally relevant insights and skills. The main issues were to integrate SD &CC priorities into policies, strategies, and programs for economic and social development through process of active learning thereby focusing on faster socio-economic transformation in the region.

Key message
The key messages of the program were to ensure : (1) Personal accountability and ownership,(2) Empowerment and transformation individual, community, provincial, national and international, (3) Asia-Pacific relevant insights and experiences, and (4) Identify how ADB, clients and partners can shape sustainable solutions for regions.

ADB conference underlined modalities quoting from Machiavelli saying that “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand , more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success , than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things”.

Core issues
After welcome and introduction major participants spoke on core issues : (1) Global Sustainable Development and Climate Change Policy and Government,(2)Climate Change in Asia-Pacific-Risks and Opportunities,(3) Case Studies : Leadership, (4) Effective Communication fords Leadership, (5)Low Carbon Growth, (6) Low Carbon Development in Asia-Pacific – Scaling Up and Out, (7) Sustainable Cities,(8) Case Studies : Climate Change Mitigation, (9) Operational working group,(10) Vulnerability and Resilience, (11) Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development and Climate Change,(12) Climate Risks and Adaptive Capacity, (13) Investing in Natural Capital,(14)Case Studies : Climate Change Adaptation,(15) Climate Change and Sustainable Development Finance,(16) Leading the Charge : Promotion Sustainable Business in the Private Sector, (17) Case Studies : Regional Departments, (18) Partnerships : Sharing Knowledge and Developing Finance Solutions and (19) Operational working group.

Prof. Dr. M Alimullah Miyan, Vice-Chancellor of International University of Business Agriculture and Technology(IUBAT) who is also the Chairperson, South Asian Disaster Management Centre (SADMC) highlighted major problems of Bangladesh in his comprehensive presentation on ‘National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA): Bangladesh Case Study . He detailed the vulnerability of motherland Bangladesh marking its mounting problems for its being geographically located in disaster prone region. In his comprehensive presentation Dr Miyan told the august gathering that the country is very vulnerable to Climate Change Disasters.

Prof. Miyan urged the experts to find ways and means to help the country combat the disaster being caused by devastating floods ,cyclones, draught and other natural calamities causing harrowing tales of deaths and sufferings of millions.

Highlighting the character of country’s environment Dr Miyan featured some major problems saying that :(a) Bangladesh is very Prone to Cyclones, Tidal Surges & Floods, (b)Cyclones mainly Originate in Shallow Northern Bay, (c) Coastal Zone is Prone to Inundation due to Sea Level Rise,(d) Erosion & Salinity Intrusion are Serious Problem and (e) Climate Extremes are affecting Livelihoods; Food Security, Damage Crops, Infrastructure, Domestic & Wildlife

Focusing the problems he said(i) Poor Villagers and Urban Slum Dwellers are Most Vulnerable,(ii) Different Zones face Common or Different Types of Hazards,(iii)Central and the Cities from Flash Floods, (iv) Southern Zones from Cyclones, (v)Tidal Surges and Post disaster Epidemic and (vi) Famine are Common

Thus millions of people Loss their livelihoods& migrate to cities, mainly the mega cities like: Dhaka & Chittagong, loss crops, domestics, and households epidemics due to fresh water crisis are the common problems, he added.

On the other hand, he said upstream withdrawal of water from Ganges, Brahmaputra etc, rivers are drying up & salinity intrusion in the coastal zone affecting agriculture and lives salinity increased due to Farakka and Tista dams of India, he mentioned.

Mentioning about Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) Dr Miyan drew attention of the esteemed participants focusing of the major areas as follows :

Ø Innovative partnership between the Government of Bangladesh, Development Partners and the World Bank to address the impacts of climate change.

Ø Established in May 2010

Ø Fund Size US$170 m

Ø Partners Denmark, European Union, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Switzerland

Ø Channel in over US$125m grant funds to millions of Bangladeshis to build their resilience to the effects of climate change.

Ø The objective of BCCRF is to support the implementation of Bangladesh’s Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan for 2009-2018.

Ø The Bangladesh Government leads on the management and implementation of BCCRF.

Vice-Chancellor of IUBAT specifically voiced at the ADB meeting raising some priority arrangements as under:

• Promote adaptation of coastal Crops

• Adaptation of agriculture systems in flash-flooding prone areas of Northeast & Central Regions

• Adaptation of fisheries in flash-flooding prone areas through adaptive & diversified fish culture practices

• Culture salt-tolerant fish in coastal areas and explore options for insurance to cope with enhanced climatic disasters

Prof. Dr. M Alimullah Miyan concluded his speech flashing scenario how the country faces the emergency situation after such natural havoc in its bid to save its people, animals and resources:

• Bangladesh has a significant history of disasters
• Govt. has made serious efforts aimed at DRR
• Working partnership with donors, NGOs & humanitarian Organizations
• Constructed Embankments in Coast/River banks
• Improved Forecasting and Warning Capacity by Meteorological Department
• Periodical Training and Drilling Practices are conducted
• Coastal volunteer Network
• Massive Coastal a forestation program
• Constructed Cyclone Centers
• Developed Salinity Tolerance Rice and More research is in progress
• Engaged Coast Guards to protect Illegal Logging in Sundarbans and fishing in the Seas.

A lot remains to be done to gain resilience for sustainability, he concluded.

Mozidur Rahman Biswas
Head of Community Relations
IUBAT—International University of Business Agriculture and Technology
4,Embankment Drive Road, (Off Dhaka-Ashulia Road )
Sector 10, Uttara Model Town , Dhaka-1230, Bangladesh
PBX: 896 3523-27 (Ext- 131), Fax: 892 2625
email: Cell:01716705435
Member: National Press Club, Dhaka

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