Bangladesh’s geographical position makes it one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change. The impacts are clear: Increasingly frequent and devastating cyclones, floods and other climatic aberrations.
Disadvantaged communities are hit the hardest by climate change, and the livelihoods of people living in poverty are undermined. This results in widening inequalities and greater social injustices. At BRAC, we have been working to reduce social inequities for over 40 years, and integrating climate adaptation efforts into our interventions has become one of our prime concerns.
To ensure that our interventions work synergistically to combat the dynamics of climate change, BRAC Climate Change Programme is developing a process to mainstream climate-resilient approaches into the organisation’s activities.
This year, the climate change programme collaborated with BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation and WASH programmes, and conducted detailed studies to identify what climate-resilient components already exist in the programmatic activities. The studies – which will be conducted with other programmes at BRAC in the future – also looked into how new approaches can be integrated into the programmes’ activities.
Within the organisation, we have three policies to mainstream climate change adaptation into our activities, and to adopt environmentally-friendly practices at the head office. These are: BRAC’s climate change strategy (2016-2020), environment and social safeguard framework (ESSF) and the environmental policy.
The environmental policy sets out procedures to ensure that BRAC adopts carbon-offsetting activities, thereby minimising environmental impacts and promoting an environmentally friendly workplace.
The policy will be executed by three committees comprising of BRAC’s officials. These are: the green standing committee (ie top-level management officials) the green team (ie mid-level officials) and the green envoy committee (ie field level officials).
BRAC’s force is in the field. Empowering staff in managerial positions in the field with the knowledge of the environmental policy is crucial for reaching its message across the country. They are the ones who make up the green envoy, with the job to ensure that the policy is incorporated into field operations.
Aside from spreading awareness on environmental issues and promote greener practices, the green envoy committee is designed to be a platform to cultivate ideas, engage in discussion and generate innovative thinking among the BRAC staff members to practice eco-friendly approaches.
During orientation, we asked the participants – comprising of the green envoy committee members – to write down environmentally-friendly practices that they would like to lead in their own workplaces. Ideas included the installation of natural gas stoves and solar panels, and reduction of the use of plastics at BRAC offices and training centres.
The climate change programme has facilitated the process of forming 64 green envoy committees across Bangladesh. Training sessions are currently ongoing with representatives from various programmes including microfinance, health, seed and agro enterprise, and more.
BRAC Climate Change Programme is working to attain climate change and environmental solutions at the local and national levels. Establishing the green envoy is a step towards integrating environment-friendly practices into our development activities, ensuring a sustainable, healthy and responsible workplace.
Tahmina Hadi is Deputy Manager, Knowledge Management, Climate Change Programme, BRAC. Ashadudzaman Asad is Senior Manager, Climate Change Programme, BRAC.