Civil Society demands democratic ownership in local climate fund management

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Dhaka, 27th May 2010. Today in a seminar held at national press club, Dhaka the civil society organizations expressed worries on the transparency and accountability mechanisms in the implementation of Climate Change Trust Fund (CCTF) of the government of Bangladesh, as it is overwhelmingly controlled by Bureaucrats and Ministries. They demanded to implant democratic principles in the governance of the CCTF through ensuring wider scope of participation of the climate victims, local government representatives and civil societies. The seminar titled “Government’s Funding for Climate Change: Bureaucratic or Democratic Ownership?” organized by EquityBD and CSRL, the two campaign coalitions of NGOs and civil society organization. The seminar was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, while Md Shmasuddoha of EquityBD made the keynote presentation.

Dr. Rashid E Mahbub or National Health Right Campaign, Tusar Rahman of Citizen Rights Movement, Faroque Ahmed of Media Foundation for Trade and Development, Syed Mahbub Alam of WBB Trust, Nasimul Haque of CDMP-UNDP, Mohammed Ali of Bangladesh Trade Union Center, Zakir Hossain of Nagorik Uddogue, Golam Mortoza of Shaptahik, Ziaul Haque Mukta of Oxfam GB and Retired Lieutenant General Mahbubur Rahaman of BNP spoke in the seminar.

In his presentation Md. Shamsuddoha mentioned there should be criteria based NGO selection prior to invite the proposal. As NGO has not given space to talk with victim community, there is every chance that the projects hardly are innovative in nature and which in fact created a market for Dhaka based consultants, who earn money out of project proposal writing, virtually has little relation in field. He also mentioned that due to not having NGO selection criteria, around 5000 NGO have submitted proposals for project funding, where most of them don’t have prior work experiences in the relevant field. Joint position paper of EquityBD and CSRL has also asked government to prepare ‘climate change vulnerability index’ for the country and adopt long-term project implementation plan in the areas to be affected most.

Dr. Rashid E Mahbub mentioned that in the present formation there is no accountability of trust fund toward people. Tusar Rahman mentioned that bureaucratic control over the trust fund management is not an expectation from a political government. Zakir Hossain insisted the use of right to information act, especially at the implementation level of climate financing projects. Golam Mortaza mentioned that in bureaucracy is a common feature in every State, thus political leaders should have proper orientation, capacity and honesty to lead and guide bureaucrats in a proper way; corrupt political process will enhance corruption of bureaucracy. Lt. Gen Mahbub demanded participation of opposition MPs, and also demanded that the trust should be discussed in parliament. Ziaul Haque Mukta of Oxfam GB asked for continuation such a campaign so that there will be more civil society awareness and concern in this regard.

In conclusion Rezaul Karim Chowdhury mentioned that the concept of ‘democratic ownership’ is nothing new. This concept has heen accepted by all donors, government, international financial institutions and NGOs in Accra Action Agenda on 2008 during the review of Paris Declaration. He expressed hope that, government will consider civil society concern on the fund management and will take action to reform it.

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