Bangladesh is regarded as a Least Developed Country (LDC) by the United Nations (UN) – a group of countries recognized by the United Nations as economically vulnerable. Bangladesh is also listed by the UN Framework Convention (UNFCCC) on Climate Change as among the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Therefore, climate change is one of the most crucial problems that exist in this country.
Contemplating the risks involved, Bangladesh took necessary steps to reduce this risk, for example by listing Bangladesh in the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) as requiring “urgent and immediate” adaptations and introducing the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (‘BCCSAP’) 2009.
Afterwards, considering the need for immediate action to reduce the risk of the effects of climate change, the Bangladesh Finance Minister attended to the issue using national fund rather than depending on foreign financial aid. This resulted in the creation of two separate funds: the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (‘BCCTF’), and the Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (‘BCCRF’). The BCCTF is funded by the national revenue budget  while BCCRF is funded from international sources (Denmark, European Union, Sweden, United Kingdom, and Switzerland). As a result the Climate Change Trust Fund Act-2010 (‘the Act’) was enacted. Now although the reason behind the enactment of the Act is very noble indeed, the efficiency of the Act, in solving the problems it was enacted for, is yet to be proven.
Issues regarding the Act’s accountability and transparency have raised a lot of questions and attracted much criticism. In this context, climate finance and its management issues becomes the talk of the topics where issues like governance deficit, undisclosed policy, unavailability of terms of reference (ToR) with different institutions, unavailability of project information, allegation of political interference in project selection, lack of transparency and accountability of project implementing organization are mostly discussed.
Criticisms regarding the system not having proper accessibility roots from certain problems, for instance, unavailability of specific documents such as Management or operating cost of BCCTF and Climate Change Unit (‘CCU’) and Information on activities and operation of CCU.
Then there are some information for which provisions exists but in reality they are not available in the public domain. For example, information on project selection process, financial audit reports, report regarding the project approval or rejection process; project progress evaluation report, Environmental Impact Assessment (‘EIA’), where applicable etc.
According to the provision of the Right to Information Act 2009 of Bangladesh, the unavailable documents (as mentioned above in Para 5) must be available in the website of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (‘MoEF’) or CCU office or its web portal but in reality, these documents are not publicly available thereby creating ambiguity in the system.
Most of the members of the board of trustees being Ministers have created another obstacle for the Act to be accessible to the public. The Act is an instrument to mend the crisis that is faced by the general public. So to create certain proximity between the government and the public and to provide a medium of check and balance, provision should be there for a member of the public to be present at the board of trustees, other than just Ministers and other members of the government bodies.
The Act is unclear about the responsibilities of MoEF and CCU. According to dependable sources some projects has been approved by BCCTF for funding under political consideration and without any prior justification and applicability of climate change. This indicates the extent of political influence and interference that exist in the applicability of the Act, whereas this Act was enacted to solve the problems caused by the climate change, which is a purely non-political issue. Therefore, it should be ensured that the decisions of the Board of Trustees do not get influenced by partisan politics and political interest.
These lacking in the Act raises question as to the transparency and accountability of the system. As BCCTF runs on national revenue, it is our view that the Government should make sure that these funds are utilized in the most efficient way and should make an effort to close this gap between themselves and the general public. Moreover the members of the Board of Trustees, who has the power to alter so many lives, should work on reinforcing the political commitment to fight the problems regarding climate change.
Written by Sajeda Farisa Kabir, Partner
† Disclaimer: The opinions and comments expressed in this Blawg are not to be regarded or construed as legal advice by and from Vertex Chambers or any of its members. It is highly advisable that any person should seek independent legal advice before relying on any of the contents of this Blawg.
 Section 15 of the Climate Change Trust Act 2010
 Section 9 of the Climate Change Trust Act
 Section 15 of the Climate Change Trust Act