Khulna Declaration to Protect Lives and Livelihoods of Southwest Coastal Region

Saturday, 10 July 2010, 25 Asharh 1416
Khulna, Bangladesh
We, more than two hundred representatives from different sectors of the society including members of parliament and representatives from local government, political parties, researcher, teacher, women rights movement, socio-cultural organization, students’ organization, development organization, small and marginal farmer and forest and indigenous communities of southwest coastal region of Bangladesh,
Gathering today on tenth of July Two thousand Ten AD in the eve of ‘Southwest Coastal Conference on Impact of Climate Change on Coastal Livelihood: Perspective Cyclone Aila’ at Khulna Divisional City,
Recalling the potentials of world heritage the Sundarbans Mangrove Forest, fertile alluvial land, billion tons of sediments, disaster-tolerant local rice varieties, rivers and canals like arteries and rich traditional cultural practices;
Concerned for the vulnerabilities of the rural livelihoods such as small and marginal farmer, agricultural labour, fisherman and other natural resource dependant people of Southwest region due to frequent and intensive natural disasters including cyclone Aila, adverse impact of climate change and environmental degradation and unwise development initiatives;
Emphasizing on emergence of short, mid and long term initiatives as because the livelihood and ecological problems becomes complicated for climate change induced vulnerabilities and adverse impacts of infrastructural mega projects financed by the Multinational Development Banks (MDBs), Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and ‘Donor Organizations’ from developed countries;
Solely proclaiming these 21-point demands as Khulna Declaration and urging the Government of Bangladesh to implement this declaration for sustainable rural livelihoods of southwest coastal region of Bangladesh:

  1. Allocate sufficient financial resources immediately for reconstruction of cyclone Aila damaged embankments. Finalize working schedule, tender notice and other necessary activities within September 2010 to complete reconstruction of the breached embankments within December 2010. Take alternative measures to complete this task considering failure of Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) in last year;
  2. Identify and repair all weakened coastal embankments of southwest coastal region in priority basis. Inter alia ensuring transparency and accountability of BWDB is must to complete this task;
  3. Depositing sedimentation in cultivable wetlands of southwest coastal region is must to meet the challenges of land subsidence, sea level rise and wide-spread water logging. To achieve this end, implement Tidal River Management (TRM) in this region as an integral part of the embankments;
  4. Update the Embankment Protection Act 1952 and adopt seven years jail for making hole in, illegal cut or any other damage of the embankments. Simultaneously, ensure local small and marginal farmers participation in embankment management;
  5. Increase the height of coastal embankments southwest region to eight mitres like southeast and use geo-fibre and iron-net to make it capable of protecting cyclone and tidal surges. Construct roads and highways on the embankments to ensure proper and regular use of them;
  6. Stop leasing of riverbanks create environments of planting mangrove forest at outside of the embankments. Stop leasing of state-owned canals and water bodies within the polder. Protect these common resources to use for freshwater reservoir for irrigation for agricultural production, and for natural fish varieties;
  7. Provide agricultural tools including fertilizer, seeds and irrigation support to the cyclone Aila affected small and marginal farmers. At the same time, promote local saline and disaster tolerant varieties by banning distribution of hybrid and Genetically Modified (GM) seeds which have come from unknown sources;
  8. Provide adequate scholarships and free educational materials to the cyclone Aila affected students to ensure their smooth primary, secondary and higher education;
  9. Change the mindset of Cordon Approach of implementing cross dams, river training, flood control and water development, and adopt a different Embankment Management Policy with attitude of sedimentation and water management. Simultaneously, crash the upstream dams to ensure freshwater in the coastal river and canals;
  10. Ban the brackish water shrimp cultivation in the agricultural land of coastal region considering its adverse long term socioeconomic and environmental impact.
  11. Immediately finance and undertake socioeconomic development projects for climate victims including cyclone Aila induced refugees;
  12. Create joint and continuous international pressure on the developed industrialised countries to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) emission and ensure reparations for capacity building to reduce vulnerabilities of climate induced disasters;
  13. Assess environmental impacts and take local people’s opinion considering negative impacts of climate change before undertaking Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other IFIs financed mega project in the coastal zone;
  14. Establish an Adaptation and Mitigation Centre in southwest coastal region considering frequency and adversity of disasters in this region. At the same time, construct one cyclone shelter for every one thousand people in the disaster-prone areas;
  15. Provide support to the poor people for constructing disaster-tolerant, environment-friendly and long-lasting houses in southwest coastal region. To this end, undertake an Integrated Settlement Plan for this region. Simultaneously, undertake sustainable measures for safe drinking water and sanitation considering increased salinity and tidal surge;
  16. Protect illegal wood extraction, forest bandits and corruption to protect world’s largest single track mangrove forest, the Sundarbans;
  17. Stop refusing traditional rights of forest peoples of the Sundarbans in the name of conserving biodiversity after disasters like cyclone Aila. At the same time, stop using the Sundarbans as a Carbon Reservoir for corporate Carbon Trading in the name of Climate Change Mitigation;
  18. Excavate and dredge dead rivers of the region and smash the entire infrastructure which are creating barrier to drainage. Keep at least fifty mitres water channel in every kilometre of roads and highways;
  19. Do not allow any international debt-trade or profit-driven trade aggression to take chance of disaster, extreme salinity, climate-tolerant seed, Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), green technology, water scarcity etc.;
  20. Reactivate Coastal Development Board (CDB) and implement the recommendation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan (ICZMP) for sustainable development of coastal zone;
  21. Amend the National Water Policy and Agricultural Policy to incorporate specific measures for reducing vulnerabilities of coastal zone;

We again urge to the Government of Bangladesh to implement these demands of Khulna Declaration and to promote sustainable rural livelihoods of coastal disaster affected people.

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