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CGIAR launches the Asian Mega-Deltas Initiative in Bangladesh

CGIAR, together with government agencies and other relevant stakeholders, conducted the country launch of the Initiative on Securing the Food Systems of Asian Mega-Deltas for Climate and Livelihood Resilience (AMD) in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 10 August 2022. With the goal of promoting resilient, inclusive, and productive Asian Mega-Deltas, the AMD initiative will focus on the three main deltas in Asia, such as Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta in Bangladesh and India, Irrawaddy Delta in Myanmar, and Mekong River Delta in Vietnam and Cambodia.

In her welcome message, Dr. Sonja Vermuelen, Managing Director of Genetic Innovation of CGIAR, introduced AMD “as one of the 12 multi-disciplinary Research Initiatives that will be implemented in Bangladesh by different CGIAR centers in collaboration with national stakeholders.” She shared that AMD’s main goal is to transform food systems toward greater climate resilience by removing systemic barriers at community, national and regional levels to enable the scaling of existing and emerging technologies and practices.

In his introduction of the AMD initiative, Dr. Benjamin Belton, AMD Co-Lead and Senior Scientist of WorldFish, emphasized the importance of the deltas as home to tens of millions of people, source of food and economic security beyond this population, and hotspots of biodiversity. However, he stressed that “the deltas are facing severe challenges such as shrinking and sinking due to climate change and unsustainable development.”

He added that delta resilience, inclusiveness, and productivity will be achieved through climate-smart agricultural practices and nutrition-sensitive interventions, which will help boost farm incomes, sustainability, and employment.

The launching provided a platform to build stronger partnership and great understanding of the AMD initiative among the different partners of the AMD’s five focus areas, such as: adapting deltaic production systems, nutrition-sensitive deltaic agrifood systems, de-risking delta-oriented value chains, inclusive deltaic food-systems governance, and evidence-based delta development planning.

In his remarks during the program, Mr. Kamalaranjan Das, Additional Secretary (Research) of the Ministry of Agriculture, hoped that the “discussion will  identify challenges, opportunities, research & development gaps, and national priorities on developing climate resilient agrifood systems in the coastal region of Bangladesh.” He emphasized that the integrated and impact-oriented action plan will play a vital role to improve the adaptation, mitigation, and resilience of agriculture and livelihoods against climate crisis in the coastal region of Bangladesh.

In a special message, Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, 2021 World Food Prize Laureate and Global Lead for Nutrition and Public Health of WorldFish, firmly believed that the AMD Initiative will tackle crucial issues, such as equity, diverse and nutritious diet, migration, and social inclusion. She hoped that AMD will provide science-based recommendations for policy and investments outlined in Bangladesh Delta Plan (BDP), and the AMD implementation in Bangladesh will be a good example for other countries under the Initiative.

Highlights of the workshop include: the session on government priorities on agriculture development in the coastal areas and expectation from the CGIAR delivered by Dr. Md. Abdus Salam of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC); government priorities on climate change adaptation and mitigation in agriculture presented by Mr. Md. Mahmud Hossain of the Ministry of Environment; and the BDP 2100: priorities on agriculture and climate change shared by Mr. Md. Amirul Hossain of the BDP Secretariat.

The event also provided the partners a venue for open discussion on developing partnership to achieve common goals of building climate and livelihood resilience in coastal Bangladesh. Breakout sessions were also conducted per Focus Area to clearly introduce the initiative and its components and to brainstorm with the participants in designing more stakeholder-responsive activities.

More than 90 participants, both in-person and online, attended the event representing the government agencies of Bangladesh, CGIAR and its centers working for AMD, international organizations working in the region, particularly in the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta, academic institutions, and other relevant stakeholders groups.

The AMD initiative is led by Dr. Björn Ole Sander, the Country Representative to Vietnam of the International Rice Research Institute.