Bangladesh is strongly affected by climate change. According to the Climate-Risk-Index 2014, Bangladesh counts to the five most affected countries of the world. Two third of the country’s territory lies less than five meters above sea level, making Bangladesh especially vulnerable to sea-level rise

Geographic characteristics

Bangladesh is located in a low-lying delta, formed by the dense network of the distributaries of the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna, between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. The total land area is 147,570 sq. km and consists mostly of low and flat land, with some hilly areas in the northeast and southeast. About 10% of the country is only 1 meter above the mean sea level, and one-third is under tidal excursions. A network of more than 230 major rivers and their tributaries crisscrosses the country. The geographical location and topography of the densely populated country means it is particularly at risk from the likely impacts of climate change

Bangladesh's economy

Although there was a short period of political protest at midyear that disrupted transportation and services, growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 increased from 6.1% from to 6.6 % in FY2014 (Asian Development Bank). Growth in agriculture moderated to 3.3% from 4.4% a year earlier because harvests of staple and horticultural crops were less favorable. Meanwhile, robust domestic demand pushed industry expansion to 9.7% from 8.2% the previous year, led by manufacturing for the domestic market and construction. Services growth advanced slightly to 5.8% from 5.6%. Sustained growth in recent years has generated higher demand for electricity, transport, and telecommunication services, and contributed to widening infrastructure deficits. While the population growth rate has declined, the labor force is growing rapidly. This can be turned into a significant demographic dividend in the coming years, if more and better jobs can be created for the growing number of job-seekers. Moreover, improving labor force participation and productivity will help to release the potential of the economy. Bangladesh aspires to be a middle-income country by 2021. This will require increasing GDP growth to 7.5 to 8 percent per year based on accelerated export and remittance growth. Both public and private investment will need to increase as well. Growth will also need to be more inclusive through creation of productive employment opportunities in the domestic economy. To sustain accelerated and inclusive growth, Bangladesh will need to manage the urbanization process more effectively, as well as prepare for adaptation to climate change impacts. Climate change will drastically hamper economic growth of the country. For instance, the Asian Development Bank estimated that Bangladesh may experience a 2% GDP annual loss by 2050 because of climate change.

Contribution to GDP and Employment by Sectors

Sector Contribution to GDP in 2012/13 Employs (in % of the labor force) in 2013
The agricultural sector 19 % 47 %
The industrial sector 32 % 13 %
The Service Sector 49 % 40 %

Socio-economic factors

Bangladesh has experienced a remarkable track record on growth and development. Over the past two decades, Bangladesh has succeeded in achieving a steady reduction of poverty incidence, with the number of people climbing above the national poverty line rising steadily (Worldbank). Despite considerable progress in poverty reduction - from 48.8% to 31.5% people below the poverty line between 2000 and 2010 - the incidence of poverty in Bangladesh remains high, with a third of the population considered poor and 17.6% extremely poor (Asian Development Bank). Bangladesh is on track to meet its goal of reducing income poverty by half and therefore, the country is on track to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals. Bangladesh's HDI value for 2015 is 0.57-in the low human development category-positioning the country at 142 out of 187 countries and territories (United Nations).

Climate change projections for Bangladesh

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries due to the impact of global climate change. Climate change related risks threaten the livelihoods, food security, health and wellbeing across many parts of Bangladesh. Climate change projections suggest that flood, tropical cyclones, storm surge and drought are likely to be more frequent and severe in the years to come in the region. Moreover, an increase in extreme rainfall events related to Monsoon will be very likely in South Asia. Low lying, densely populated coastal areas like Bangladesh will be at increased risk of storm surges, putting almost 30 millions of people at risk by 2050 (IPCC, 2014). According to IPCC 5th assessment report, it is predicted that temperature will increase 1.6°C by 2050s while precipitation will increase by 8%. According to IPCC AR5, the sea level rise in Bay of Bengal by 2100 is projected within a range of 0.2 to 0.9 m (IPCC, 2013c). This may also lead to more frequent floods that may increase by 6% by 2030s and 14% by 2050s. Besides, salinity intrusion coastal area will increase which will severely effect the agricultural sector. It is predicted that by 2050 almost 24% of the coastal zone area will be under high salinity levels (5ppt salinity).

Climate Change Policy in Bangladesh

The country has demonstrated its engagement in climate change policy through many initiatives and projects related to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Bangladesh was one of the first countries to develop a climate change strategy and action plan that provides strategic direction. The Bangladesh's National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA), Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) and lately the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) are the main policy documents that propose adaptation actions in Bangladesh. The NAPA was launched in 2005 highlighting the key adverse effects of climate change and the country's adaptation needs. The BCCSAP was developed in 2008 and revised in 2009. It is built on six priority sectors: Food Security, Social Protection and Health; Comprehensive Disaster Management; Infrastructure; Research and Knowledge Management; Mitigation and Low Carbon Development; and Capacity Building and Institutional Strengthening (MoEF, 2009). BCCSAP has been the main driver behind the country's adaptation interventions, funds and projects. In 2015, Bangladesh has launched its INDC that contain a mix of measures that have already been taken forward. The priorities in the adaptation component of the INDCs include improved Early warning system for tropical cyclone, flood, flash flood and drought, disaster preparedness and construction of flood and cyclone shelters and Climate resilient infrastructure and housing. Furthermore, tropical cyclones and storm surge protection and monsoon flood-proofing and protection are part of the INDCs. Some elements of climate change adaptation are addressed through specific sectoral policies. However, with the exception of the Coastal Zone Policy (MoWR, 2004), and the recently renewed National Agriculture Policy (MoA, 2011), climate change issues have not been sufficiently highlighted in the national policy regime. Given the importance of climate change and its potential adverse implications on economic development and people's lives and livelihoods, revision of sectoral policies and explicit inclusion of climate change impacts and considerations in these policies is needed.

What does that mean for the economy and my business

In Bangladesh, climate change impacts are a significant challenge for the private sector and especially, for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) which can be seen as the economic growth engine of Bangladesh. MSME contribute to the GDP of the country, create jobs and thus, alleviate poverty while fostering economic development. If their sustainability and business continuity is at risk due to climate variability and extreme weather events, the entire economy will suffer, resulting in job losses and a decrease in economic growth. Almost half of Bangladesh´s GDP is earned by the service sector followed by the industrial sector which contributes 32% to the GDP and the agricultural sector with 15%. Many economic sectors and companies are affected by climate variability and natural disasters. Sectors that are most severely exposed to climate and disaster related risks including agriculture and manufacturing. For instance, the manufacturing sector (e.g. textile, agri-processing, light-engineering etc.) can be affected by climate change by decreasing availability of raw materials (agricultural inputs such as rice, cotton etc.), energy shortage, decreasing water supply and damaged manufacturing and storage facilities. Inundations can severely impact the sectors due to the disruption to communication and transport systems, power supplies or damage to infrastructure. Furthermore, the tourism sector and water transportation sector belong to the sectors that are affected by extreme weather events. In addition, the maintenance of Bangladesh's infrastructure system is crucial for Bangladesh's export activities. However, maintaining the infrastructure is extremely challenging and requires a lot of resources due to the effects of annual flooding. Climate change effects need also to be taken serious regarding the waterways. They are used for up to 50% of inter-district transportation of goods. Riverbank erosion as a result of heavy monsoons and dry season siltation further endangers the movement of inland water transport. This poses a major threat to trade activities within the Country.

The Country at a Glance

Population: 159.1 million (2014)
GDP: $ 172.9 billion (2014)
GDP growth: 6.1% (2014)
Inflation: 7.0% (2014)