Notes from the Field

Can Stronger Public-Private Partnership Help Combat Climate Change in Bangladesh?

January 11, 2012

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Interventions will be required over a long time for adaptation and mitigation. They will need to adopt different approaches to programming, while the ongoing development initiatives will need to be sensitive to climate change. One such approach is Public Private Partnership (PPP).

Bangladesh environment

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, and while businesses are among the causes of climate change, they are also at risk from its effects. Photo by Srabani Roy.

Despite delays in staffing the PPP Unit and implementing the Policy and Strategy on PPP that was approved in 2010, the government took a timely step for the economic growth and development. The government has also been applauded globally as one of the pioneers to formulate the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP). If applied properly, PPP can be an effective approach to reduce vulnerability. Such partnerships can also ensure “climate proofing” of other projects implemented through PPP in the country.

People in semi-urban and rural areas directly depend on climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture and businesses for their livelihoods. On the other hand, while some businesses are among the causes of climate change (e.g., emission of carbon dioxide and similar gases), they are also at risk from its effects.

Many, if not most, of the large scale “solutions” will continue to be undertaken by the government. However, the government cannot act alone as it may not have adequate funds, skills, and capacity. Also, some interventions (e.g., building and enhancing large infrastructures) may require long implementation time if they are implemented as public-only projects.

Due to the global scale of the challenge, we need multiple actors including private sector funding and diverse sources of expertise to deliver sustainable solutions. Public funding is likely to be restricted for years to come following the financial crisis, which makes exploring alternative funding and expertise more critical than ever.

PPP models can potentially address the challenges posed by climate change in sectors like housing, communication, infrastructure, health, agriculture, livelihood, water, and sanitation. The private sector can bring innovative solutions and scale to the models for climate change adaptation and mitigation shaped by the government and civil society organisations (CSO). PPP can allow large scale projects to go forward when public sector authorities might not be able to afford them.

Read the full article originally published in The Daily Star on Jan. 7, 2012.

Shameem Siddiqi is The Asia Foundation’s senior program director in Bangladesh. He can be reached siddiqi@asiafound.org. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and not those of The Asia Foundation.

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