Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ruled out the notion of losing effectiveness of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), saying that the regional grouping is “very much alive”.
“The effectiveness of SAARC is yet to end. The eight-nation regional body is very much alive and I think it has an opportunity to do more work for changing the lot of the people of South Asian region,” she said.
She added: “There is a need for regional cooperation for socioeconomic development of the people of the region.”
The Bangladesh prime minister expressed these views while participating in an interactive session on “Harnessing Regional Cooperation in South Asia” in the 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at the Congress Centre here on Tuesday evening.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman, representatives and civil society members from different SAARC countries joined the interactive session.
Describing again poverty as the main enemy of the region, the prime minister said: “Our main emphasis should be how we could eradicate poverty.”
She said to eradicate poverty, the SAARC countries will have to boost trade and commerce as well as connectivity and the people-to-people contact.
“We have been working on rooting out poverty,” she said, mentioning the initiatives for establishing BBIN, BCIM-EC and BIMSTEC forums.
She said the BCIM-EC forum is being set up to integrate China in the South Asian region in larger scale, while SAFTA is being strengthened for boosting trade and commerce.
The prime minister also said an initiative has been taken to launch SAARC Satellite on the orbit for development of telecommunications in the region.
Replying to a question from a Pakistani civil society member that “elderly people” are being hanged in the name of war crimes trial in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina told the questioner that “the people you have described as elderly were young in 1971 and criminals and they carried out genocide and atrocities.”
“They were involved in heinous crimes like killing, rape and burning and looting houses and the criminals are being tried and getting punishment within the law,” she added.
While talking about the US authority’s threat of withdrawal of their investment after the election of new US government, the prime minister said in the present global context it’s not an easy task to shift investment from one country to another location.
In this connection, she said her government is providing training to the youths to turn the huge manpower into human resources.
On the climate change issue, Sheikh Hasina said her government has constituted Climate Change Trust Fund of 400 million US dollars to combat climate change.
“We have also undertaken 134 action plans for mitigation and adaptation of climate change,” she said.
In this regard, Sheikh Hasina renewed her call to the developed countries responsible for climate change to come forward to the assistance of climate vulnerable nations.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday urged the global community to put greater focus on agriculture and food security to minimize the risk of lives and livelihoods of farmers, fishers, artisans and women.
“As we move to implement the Paris Agreement, there are areas global community, including the businesses, can step in, First, lives and livelihoods of our farmers, fishers, artisans and women are increasingly at risk. They need urgent support. We need greater focus on agriculture and food security,” she said.
The Prime Minister said this while speaking at a plenary session titled ‘Leading the Fight against Climate Change’ of the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2017, held at Congress Centre, Congress Hall in Davos on Thursday evening.
Sheikh Hasina also urged the global community and businesses to make “smart agriculture” beneficial for small and marginal farmers as well as imparting knowledge on sustainable cropping and farm management in the entire value chain.
Observing that global business and research hold solutions that can save lives, crops and agri resources, she said, “We need innovative ‘not-for-profit’ models or partnerships to roll the solutions to meet our needs,”
The Prime Minister noted that access to renewable and clean energy, energy-efficient technologies, devices, implements are critical for farming, manufacturing and urban services.
“We need support and innovate to go beyond the existing global energy market modalities,” she said
“We’re moving towards ‘green growth’ path. But, we need assured climate finance as the world pledged. Half of that amount has to go to climate-vulnerable countries,” she added
The Prime Minister also pointed out that technology transfer is very critical as the world can no longer sit pretty on the excuse of intellectual rights protection.
“And, now the UN Technology Bank for LDCs is there for all to help the LDCs on technology. What we ask is access to life-saving technologies in agriculture, health, etc. that can bring in huge difference,” she said.
Noting that Bangladesh is ‘a tale of climate ground zero’, Hasina said although Bangladesh contributes least to global greenhouse gas emission, it pays dearly as millions are forced to move silently
She said Bangladesh ratified the Paris Agreement with the hope that the global community will share responsibility for shared prosperity.
“Paris Agreement must deliver towards the low-income, climate vulnerable countries,” the Prime Minister affirmed.
She said in 2009, out of own resources, Bangladesh established a 400 million dollar Climate Change Trust Fund.