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Sundarbans, Swatch of No Ground

Environ ministry inks two deals with GIZ for sustainable management

FE REPORT | July 10, 2024 00:00:00

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has signed two deals with Germany's Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to ensure sustainable management of the Sundarbans and the marine protected area (MPA) 'Swatch of No Ground (SONG)'.

MoEFCC Secretary Dr Farhina Ahmed and GIZ Acting Country Director Martina Burkard inked the agreements on behalf of their respective sides in the Bangladesh Secretariat on Tuesday.

Speaking on the occasion, the MoEFCC secretary said the integrated management of the Sundarbans mangroves and the MPA 'Swatch of No Ground' project is a collaborative effort between the MoEFCC and the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MoFL).

The SONG project aims to strengthen marine conservation in Bangladesh by improving collaboration and capacity building among the responsible authorities and stakeholders, engaging fishermen, women and youth in the coastal communities adjacent to the MPA.

Its key objectives include enhancing planning and surveillance capacities, scientific monitoring, strengthened knowledge-based decision-making through digital tools, and heightened awareness and support for marine protection among the coastal populations and active participation in marine conservation.

Dr Farhina also said strengthening regional cooperation and financing for sustainable management of the Sundarbans and restoration of coastal ecosystems in the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh and India (SUNDAR-BAY) project has been implemented from March 2024 to February 2027. It focuses on collaborative efforts between Bangladesh and India for conservation of the Sundarbans.

The SUNDAR-BAY project aims to improve governmental and non-governmental coordination between the two countries, supporting conservation of the Sundarbans as well as provision of ecosystem services to the local communities, especially women and marginalised groups.

The project will enhance institutional capacities, promote joint training programmes, and support the local communities through sustainable income-generating activities and environmental education.

Both the projects contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of life below water (SDG 14) and life on land (SDG 15), emphasising biodiversity and protection of natural resources.

These initiatives reflect the commitment of Bangladesh and Germany to protect vital ecosystems and foster sustainable development in the region.

The collaborative efforts are expected to yield significant environmental, social, and economic benefits, ensuring preservation of the Sundarbans and the 'Swatch of No Ground' for future generations.

Principal Advisor of SONG GIZ Bangladesh Dr Stefan Alfred Groenewold and Chief Conservator of Forests of Forest Department Md. Amir Hosain Chowdhury also signed agreement on behalf of their respective organisations.

Additional Secretary (Development) Md Mosharraf Hossain, Additional Secretary (EPC) Tapan Kumar Biswas, and senior officials of the ministry and GIZ were also present on the occasion.

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