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The rising tides of climate change - the challenge to prepare

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Wednesday 9 May 2012, Allan Scott Auditorium

Podcast available HERE
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Jointly presented by Just Sustainability Australia and The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre at UniSA

Rising sea levels are expected to spark the largest movement of displaced people in human history. The geo-political challenge of rising waters and homeless populations is vast. Could this be the most challenging issue currently facing humanity? The most severely affected areas are within our region. How will this affect Australia? What are we doing to prepare?

Dr MA Quassem has been taken seriously ill and has been advised not to travel.  Two replacement speakers with considerable expertise have been secured by Just Sustainability Australia to stand in for Dr Quassem. We are most grateful to them, and their biographies appear below.

Ifti Rashid is a Bangladeshi political, economic and security analyst. He is a Lecturer (on study leave) at the Independent University, Bangladesh. He holds a Master of International Development & Environmental Analysis, and is currently pursuing doctoral studies at Monash University.

Ifti served as the Political & Economic Adviser for the Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade, Government of Canada, in Dhaka from 2009 to 2012. His responsibilities involved assessing political, economic and security implications of national and regional developments, including natural disasters and climate change. He was closely involved in organizing a series of public dialogues for the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Ministry of Environment & Forest on behalf of UNDP with critical stakeholders on environmental issues.

Ifti has also consulted for the World Bank, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, Bangladesh Centre for Development Journalism & Communication and Institute of Governance Studies in Bangladesh. He has worked for ACIL, Monash University, Melbourne University and Swinburne University in Australia.

He has presented in various international universities, think-tanks, seminars and conferences, including the Academic Council on the United Nations (ACUNS). In Australia, Ifti co-founded the Monash University-based Bangladesh Studies Group in 2007.

As a Fulbright scholar, Mohammad Harunur Rashid Bhuyan completed his Master of Arts in Sociology from The New School University of the United States of America in 2007 and is furthering his doctoral studies at Monash University. He has been a Research Associate to the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, a public think tank and premier social science research organization in Bangladesh, since 2003. He has published a number of peer-reviewed articles and working papers on climate change, education, child mortality and employment in Bengali (his mother tongue) and in English, and including social responses to climate change in Bangladesh and also political and economic impacts.

Professor Fran Baum, Director of the Southgate Institute of Health, Society and Equity; and Brian Caton an expert on sea level rise generally and locally, will offer their informed perspectives.

Fran Baum is Professor of Public Health and Director of the Southgate Institute of Health, Society and Equity, and the South Australian Community Health Research Unit, at Flinders University. Professor Baum is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and one of Australia's leading researchers on the social and economic determinants of health. In 2008 she was awarded a prestigious Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship focusing on development of effective government and community responses to social determinants of health inequity and social exclusion. She holds several other national competitive grants investigating aspects of health inequity, and has an extensive teaching career in public health.

Professor Baum's numerous publications relate to social determinants of health, including Aboriginal people's health, health inequities, primary health care, health promotion, Healthy Cities, and social capital. Her text book The New Public Health (3rd ed. 2008 OUP) is widely used as a core public health text.

Brian Caton was a lecturer in environmental management at Flinders University from 1992 to 1996, and has been a coastal management consultant since 1996. He was Chair of the South Australian Coast Protection Board from 1989 - 1996, and has been a member of the Coast Protection Board since 2004. He is an expert on the impacts of climate-change-related sea level rise in South Australia and the Australian region.


Keynote Address:
Challenges of Climate Change: Bangladesh Perspective

Dr MA Quassem, Chairman, National Disaster Management Advisory Committee, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh

Dr MA Quassem, is an expert on water management and the Chair of the Disaster Management Committee from Bangladesh, one of the most seriously affected countries.

Bangladesh is a natural hazard-prone country, with annual droughts, devastating floods, and a 710 kilometre long coastline experiencing regular tidal inundation and occasional catastrophic storm surges. Anticipated adverse effects in upland parts of river basins and sea level rise in the Bay of Bengal are expected to contribute to Bangladesh becoming the country globally most severely affected by climate change. By 2050, it is expected that tens of millions Bangladeshis will lose their homes and livelihoods, and become climate refugees.

Our government has formulated climate change adaptation strategies, prepared an action plan to reduce climate hazards and mobilized funds for implementing adaptation programmes. Knowledge and research institutions are working on modules to assess the impact of sea level rise, temperature and precipitation change, water availability, human health, infrastructure, agriculture and the environment. But we cannot do it alone. My paper is intended to describe the nature and scale of the climate change issue in Bangladesh as a basis for discussing grass roots regional cooperation to tackle one of the biggest human rights challenges facing us all.



Dr MA QuassemDr MA Quassem, Chairman, National Disaster Management Advisory Council; Member, National Water Resources Council, headed by the Hon'ble Prime Minister; and Member, Governing Council, Bangladesh Water Development Board

Dr MA Quassem embodies a synergy of academic backgrounds in engineering, social science and management science. He graduated in Civil Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology (1966); did Post Graduations in Hydraulic Engineering from UNESCO-IHE, Delft (1979) and in Rural Policy and Planning with Distinction from the Institute of Social Studies (1986), the Hague, the Netherlands; and, Ph.D. in Participatory Management from Barrington University, USA (1998).

He was the architect of the National Water Management Plan for Bangladesh (2001). In 2002 he retired as the Director General of the Water Resources Planning Organization (WARPO) - the Bangladesh Government apex planning organization for the water sector - and from the Secretariat of the National Water Resources Council.

He has a wide range of publications on various water management related issues. He delivered the key-note speech in the World Youth Water Forum (2001). He chaired the Session on Integrated Flood Management in Vulnerable Delta Regions at the 3rd World Water Forum in Kyoto (2003), and delivered the keynote address at the 7th Annual Mekong Flood Forum held by the Mekong River Commission (2009).

While the views presented by speakers within the Hawke Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia or The Hawke Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: strengthening our democracy - valuing our diversity - and building our future.

The copying and reproduction of any transcripts within the Hawke Centre public program is strictly forbidden without prior arrangements.


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