Following on from the announcement of the confirmed speakers for Plenary Session 3 Vulnerable Communities and Climate Change, the Organizing Committee is delighted to profile Iqbal Kabir, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), who will present a paper on “Climate vulnerability: legal issues for Bangladesh” on Thursday 27 June: 9.00am-11.00am.


Iqbal Kabir is an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and is a Lawyer with the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) since 1994. He is responsible for co-ordination of a number of projects of BELA aiming to protect the environment and natural resources, which are supported by international donors and also by the Government of Bangladesh. He is involved in public interest advocacy cases concerning the rights of the landless, fishermen, farmers, encroachment over public property, pollution control of air, water and soil, compensation to people affected by so-called development, protection of labourers against hazardous working environment, relocation of tanneries, and maintenance of urban environmental facilities. His research interests include water and fisheries issues.

Abstract: Climate vulnerability: legal issues for Bangladesh

The southwest coastal region has been identified as a part of the world most vulnerable to the effects of a rise in sea level caused by climate change. BELA, a non-governmental organization of lawyers was set up in 1993 in response to the global call to protect and conserve natural environment, and that need has a particular importance in a rural agronomy economy and social system, like that of Bangladesh.
The term climate change refers to changes over the last hundred years from man-made greenhouse gases. Impacts of climate change for Bangladesh include flood; sea level rise, and water availability, with particular attention to upstream water flows. The paper will also consider the impact on the Sundarbans the largest mangrove forest in the world. These various environmental impacts will affect livelihood, human health and food security, affecting the poor and those who depend upon farming, and those who live in low-lying areas.

Reducing atmospheric pollution is a state responsibility under international law, which indicates that countries are accountable for activities in their territory and are duty-bound to prevent, reduce and control the risk of environmental harm to other states. However, the implementation of these principles is a concern, and it is also neccessary have structures to ensure poor people’s rights, which are affected by power imbalances in the management of water, ownership of coastal land and the risk of eviction, all of which are affected by the lack of effective international arrangements. The paper will consider both local and international legal issues.

Adaptation to climate change is only a part of the solution. The real solution lies in reducing the root cause of climate change—the emission of greenhouse gases. Delays in mitigation will mean a greater need for adaptation and further sufferings for vulnerable communities and the poor.

Organizing Committee: 11th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium 2013