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Wrestling with Weighty Matters

  • Published at 06:12 pm December 1st, 2018
Climate Tribune

Let’s not play blame games

Around 36 participants from government, academia, business, and civil society met in Dhaka in September for the second workshop on future scenarios for Bangladesh. They included several people who had been at the first workshop in April. 

They discussed the implications of each scenario for:

  • Food security and the Bangladeshi food system (SDG2)   

  • Low carbon development and energy for Bangladesh (SDG13)   

  • Trade-offs between food security and low carbon development   

  •   Inequality and gender justice

Then looking across the scenarios:    

  • Implications for strategies for food and agriculture       

  • Implications for strategies for low carbon development and climate action

Then finally implications of the scenarios for different stakeholders:    

  • National and local government   

  • Civil society organizations

  • The private sector   

  • Youth

The discussants pinpointed and wrestled with several weighty issues in food systems, including:

  •   How to change behaviour, habits, and attitudes when it comes to food and how far people are willing -- or able -- to diversify eating habits from rice to healthier diets, and also away from highly sweetened foods;

  • How it might be possible -- or not -- to come off “the vicious circle” of chemical inputs into agriculture;   

  • How to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the expanding beef, and dairy sectors and use emissions usefully, notably by producing biogas from dung and waste.    

In energy discussions adopting new technology is key but that happens if people begin to think differently and mindsets change, so that fossil-fuel based polluting energy models are not default options. And budgets follow mindsets!

Young people especially pressed for open discussion of ideas, wider engagement and constructive questioning, and urged stakeholders not to play blame games or delegate (dodge) responsibilities.

Participants reflected that changing patterns in farming such as male migration and the feminization of the rural workforce represented challenges but also opportunities for positive changes and “doing farming differently” and better via support for small-scale, often women, farmers with advice and credit, appropriate technologies, community enterprises and co-operatives. Proper land-use planning and management are crucial too.

John Magrath is a writer who has worked for Oxfam GB for over 30 years in a variety of roles. He specializes in climate change issues.