Bangladesh economy has shown more resilience than many countries in the world

Shafiqul Alam works as a Senior Advisor in the field of sustainable energy at the GIZ Bangladesh. From January 2018 to April 2019 he held an International Climate Protection Fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the Ecologic Institute in Berlin. He is also an alumnus of the Ecologic Institute and Renewables Academy (RENAC) in Berlin.

How is the current situation related to coronavirus pandemic in Bangladesh?

While the first wave of Covid-19 during 2020 could not do much damage in terms of infection and death tally attributable to timely measures from the government, the situation turned out to be scarier in April 2021 as both the number of new cases and deaths started to break previous record almost every day. After a little pause in May, the number is again increasing. The government has already enforced district-wise lockdown as required. Stringent measures are expected in the coming days on the basis of the evolving situation.

How badly does this crisis affect emerging and developing countries like Bangladesh?

The economic consequences and health crisis for emerging and developing economies are quite significant. Managing this pandemic and then making a turn-around may take years, as economists across the globe forecast. And of course, sourcing vaccine to ensure universal inoculation is another daunting task. Nevertheless, Bangladesh economy has shown more resilience than many countries in the world. Despite the present challenges, the country is still projected to do well in the fiscal year 2021-22 but not like what would have been in a setting without coronavirus.

In your opinion, what would the consequences be for international cooperation?

International cooperation, particularly from energy and climate change perspective, would rather see a boost as there has been much discussions on immediate actions to reach net-zero emission by 2050 and many countries have agreed to gear up their ambitions to be Paris Climate goal compatible. The return of US to the international climate leadership could also steer us to that end. However, much depends on the COP26, scheduled to take place later this year in Glasgow, as to how the negotiations and discussions unfold and how UK government as well as UNFCCC shows the leadership to make the things happen.

Has the radical change in politics, especially with regard to renewable energies and the green economy, that you hoped for last year occurred?

The government has, of late, scrapped 10 coal-based power plants with aggregate capacity of around 10,000 MW and therefore, focus on cleaner energies is expected. On the other hand, renewable energies, specifically solar rooftop projects, have been getting the traction. Many industries are increasingly considering solar rooftop to minimize average energy cost and energy efficiency to reduce energy consumption. In that vein, more efforts are anticipated from private sectors in the next couple of years to enhance business competitiveness as Bangladesh graduates to a developing country in 2026 and developed country in 2041.

Interviewed for Alumniportal Deutschland: Admir Lleshi

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June 2021

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