The looming impact of climate change threatens to force 20-30 million people away from their homes since much of the country has a possibility to disappear under water in the future, said Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman yesterday.
Bangladesh would do well to adapt to such climate changes and remain prepared in advance. Such adaptations will help the country see off the impacts and allow its development trajectory to remain on course, Osman said.
The minister was speaking at a seminar at the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) office in Dhaka on raising awareness among Bangladeshi research and business communities about Horizon 2020, a flagship research and innovation programme of the EU for the period 2014 to 2020.
Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation programme ever making available almost €80 billion to fund collaborative research projects by researchers from Europe and beyond including Bangladesh.
Climate-related expenditure is expected to constitute over 35 percent of Horizon 2020 budget, so it is high time Bangladeshi firms proactively made efforts to become a part of the researching parties, the minister said.
A partnership with European firms can benefit Bangladesh to improve understanding on the economics of climate change and pool resources in a structured manner to develop tools and methods for gauging impacts, Osman said. In the near future, Bangladesh is expected to graduate from its least developed country status.
Graduation to middle income country would require preparedness and solid developmental foundation. Under “Horizon 2020” initiative, Bangladeshis can submit proposals focusing on almost all types of issues from climate change to health hazards, he said.
EU Ambassador in Bangladesh Pierre Mayaudon said organisations and researchers from any country of the world, including Bangladesh, can participate in Horizon 2020 projects.
The consortium of a typical collaborative project must include three independent organisations from different EU member states or associated countries, and may include any number of additional European or non-European organisations, he said.
It covers almost all areas of research and innovation, he said.
Horizon 2020 was launched in 2014 and now the awareness programmes are being held in different countries including Bangladesh.
It is run by the EU from an office in Europe, he said. After Horizon 2020, there would be another such programme. “It is open and proposals are invited from any sector,” Mayaudon said. This is the world’s largest research and innovation programme, he said.
“Successful research can be translated into improvements in health systems, education, and infrastructure, which in turn lead to further development. The importance of these hence cannot be overemphasised,” said Speaker of the Parliament Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury.
Scientific research is required in areas of food and energy security, fortified food and hybrid seeds, hygiene and sanitation requirements, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy, said Md Anwar Hossain, secretary (in charge), the science and technology ministry.
“We have been enduring dengue fever for quite some time, and more recently, the Chikungunya virus has arrived. We need a cure for such illnesses, and since Horizon 2020 has already granted fund in a project to fight against Ebola, we should see if research funds to counter these viruses could be availed,” Hossain said.
Not only limited to this, the initiative has already disbursed funds for wastewater reuse in the textile industry, renewable packaging from agriculture waste, UV water disinfection technology and many similar projects.
As of February 28, Bangladesh has participated in two signed grant agreements benefitting from a total of 5.49m euros of EC financial contribution from the Horizon 2020 initiative, Hossain said.
“Horizon 2020 has a target of making over 80 billion euros available to the successful applicants. It is built around three pillars: excellent science, industrial leadership and societal challenges. Research and development in all these areas have the potential of contributing to the development of the country,” said MCCI President Nihad Kabir.
With the idea of taking great ideas from the lab to the market, the programme is inviting collaborative research from across the world on science, technology to societal challenges involving both public and private sectors.
Source: The Daily Star