In the light of ongoing threats on the world’s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans, located at the Indian-Bangladeshi border, we write to the country delegates to the 43rd Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee by calling for an urgent intervention into Bangladesh government’s decision to implement the destructive Rampal coal power-plant.
As concerned global citizens, earth defenders, climate organisations and researchers, and members of Bangladeshi environmental groups abroad, we express our unequivocal support to the draft decision generated by international biodiversity experts and to be discussed and voted in Baku on 4 July 2019. We welcome the draft decision that calls in particular to halt the construction of the coal plants at Rampal, Taltali and Kalapara and 154 other active industrial activities in southwest Bangladesh until the exact impacts for the forest have been critically assessed.
The Sundarbans mangrove forest is an invaluable ecosystem along Bangladesh’s coast and the government of Bangladesh should take responsibility to protect the mangrove site. Ahead of the 43rd Session in Baku where 21 member states on the Committee will discuss the status of the Sundarbans forest, we caution also that declaring it a “World Heritage Site in Danger” will not suffice. This will be a first step only. We recognise the imminent danger threatening the mangrove forest, where such a decision is needed. However, the Committee should take a more bold and positive step to bring in a solution to the problem faced by the affected communities and the World Heritage.
The outcome of such declaration should not mean that the World’s largest mangrove forest being an isolated or left over site, diminishing its original status. In our view the World Heritage Committee should take an important and positive step by first declaring the Sundarbans as a “Heritage in Danger” and asking the Bangladesh government to immediately comply with UNESCO guidelines for the protection and conservation of this universal common heritage. The Committee should ask the government to ensure that the mangrove being not harmed in the future. This could be done by consistent monitoring of the activities across the site, which the government should be accountable for.
The Committee could also ask the government to follow the Alternative Power and Energy Plan for Bangladesh, crafted by the energy experts belonging to the Save the Sundarbans movement that articulate that it is possible to generate up to 91,700 MW of electricity through renewable sources.
The government in Bangladesh do not recognise the cost of fossil fuel and harms done by ongoing industrial developments in the vicinity of Sundarbans. There are significant evidence of ongoing dredging and construction in the vicinity of the Sundarbans that overlooked appropriate measures to limit water and soil pollution. Despite thorough critiques by national and international climate experts and scientists, industrial projects near this intricate ecosystem continue. This situation is saddening.
Thus we call on the Country Delegates to the World Heritage Committee to immediately:
- Declare the site as a “Heritage in Danger” and take positive steps to save the Sundarbans;
- Ask Bangladesh government to withdraw from the move to build coal-power plants near the Sundarbans;
- To reiterate that it is the government’s responsibility to protect mangrove forests and to comply with the UNESCO World Heritage recommendations as elaborated in the draft decision;
- Tell Bangladesh government to overhaul all industrial installations of destructive enterprises in the area;
- To consult the Alternative Power and Energy Plan for Bangladesh as a way forward for meeting energy needs of the country.
We the undersigned:*
- Akhter Sobhan Khan Masroor, Committee to Protect Natural Resources of Bangladesh, the UK branch.
- Alfredo Quarto, Mangrove Action Project, USA.
- Amrit Wilson, South Asia Solidarity Group, London.
- Amy Caitlin, Extinction Rebellion London, UK.
- Anna Gaynutdinova, ICOMOS Russia Board member.
- Andrea Martínez-Fernández, World Heritage Office of San Antonio (US/ICOMOS Int´l Exchange Intern), Texas.
- Anna Fisk, Extinction Rebellion Scotland.
- Delphine Djiraibe, Public Interest Law Centre, TCHAD, North-central Afrika.
- Danielle DeLuca, Cultural Survival, USA.
- Dominique Palmer, Extinction Rebellion Youth, London.
- Elena Belokurova, German-Russian Exchange St. Petersburg.
- Eman Shokry Hesham, The World Heritage Watch.
- Environics R. Sreedhar, Environics Trust, India.
- Ercan Ayboga, Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive and Platform No to the Destruction of Sur, Turkey.
- Esther Stanford-Xosei, Coordinator-General, Stop The Maangamizi:We Charge Genocide/Ecocide Campaign.
- Eugene Simonov, Coordinator, Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition.
- Farwiza Farhan, Chairperson, Yayasan HAkA, Indonesia.
- Fe Haslam, Global Justice Forum
- Geoff Law AM, Wilderness Society, Australia.
- Gunter Wippel, MENSCHENRECHTE (HUMAN RIGHTS) 3000 e.V., Germany.
- Humaida Abdulghafoor, Save Maldives Campaign, Maldives.
- Jessica Lawrence, Earthjustice, USA.
- Dr Kat Kramer, Christian Aid, UK.
- Kofi Mawuli Klu, Joint Coordinator, Extinction Rebellion Internationalist Solidarity Network (XRISN), London, UK.
- Knud Voecking, Urgewald, Germany.
- Luiz Fernando Vieira, Coordinator, The Breton Woods Project, Critical Voices on the World Bank and IMF, UK.
- Marion Hammerl, Global Nature Fund
- Mikhail Kreyndlin, Greenpeace Russia.
- Maurizio Farhan Ferrari, Forest Peoples Programme, UK.
- Mª Alejandra Piazzolla Ramírez, Extinction Rebellion Youth, Bristol,
- Melody Lepine, Mikisew Cree First Nation.
- Mostafa Farook, European Branch of National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port in Bangladesh.
- Nils Agger, Risingup! UK.
- Norly Mercado, Asia Regional Director, 350.Org.
- Paul V. Dudman, Refugee Council Archive, University of East London.
- Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation.
- Pieter Jansen, Both ENDS.
- Richard Hering, Extinction Rebellion London.
- Richard Roberts, Reclaim the Power ‘Frack Free Three’, London, UK.
- Richard Solly, London Mining Network, UK.
- Rohit Prajapati, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti Gujarat, India.
- Dr Rafiqul Hassan Khan (Jinnah),President, Rivers Saving Network UK
- Rumana Hashem, Coordinator, Phulbari Solidarity Group.
- Saeed Baloch, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Pakistan.
- Salman Khairalla,Director,Tigris River Protector Association (Humat Dijlah), Iraq.
- Syed Babul, Bengalische Kulture Forum, Germany.
- Sukhgerel Dugersuren, Oyu Tolgoi Watch, Mongolia.
- Stephan Doempke, Chairman, World Heritage Watch, Germany.
- Stephanie Fried, Ulu Foundation, USA
- Sergiu Musteata, ICOMOS Moldova
- Virginia Young, Australian Rainforest Conservation Society
- Vidya Dinker, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
- Yulia Naberezhnaya, Russian Geographical Society, Member of the World Commission on Protected Areas in the North Eurasia Region. Russia.
*Names of signatories on this list are re-organised around the alphabetical order of ‘First names’. There is no first or second signatory. All signatories share the same sentiment, equally. The signatories are the spokespersons of organisations that they represent in the letter above. The signatures close here.
#SAVESUNDARBANS #NOtoCOALPLANTS #SAVEtheSUNDARBANS