US to help face terrorism, environmental threats – rights must with growth: Kerry | Greenwatch Dhaka | The leading online daily of Bangladesh

US to help face terrorism, environmental threats – rights must with growth: Kerry


Dhaka – Bangladesh has been placed near the very top of the countries at climate risk, with an estimated 15 million people who could be displaced by 2050, said US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday.
“Now, the United States, I promise you, will do all that we can to assist Bangladesh on this issue in the future, just as we have stood by you in so many challenges in the past,” he said hinting at greater US presence in the country to help fight terrorism and mitigate adverse effects of extreme environmental events. He was addressing members of the civil society at the EMK Centre in the city.The Secretary said the United States, President Barack Obama others are working so hard with local partners in order to try to create climate resiliency, to support renewable energy projects, build emergency centers, help with many millions of Bangladeshis who are economically dependent on coastal resources.
Kerry said the solution to climate change is not a secret and it is right there for the grabbing. “It’s energy policy. If you make the right energy policy choices, you solve the problem of climate change.”He said they are living in a very different and a very complicated time and areas of the world most vulnerable to climate change are heavily populated, low-lying coastal regions that are also subject to devastating storms such as cyclones and hurricanes.
Kerry said he talked to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali about the challenge of the Montreal Protocol and of being able to transition out of hydrofluorocarbons into the new technologies. “And that alone will save us one half a degree centigrade in the warming of the Earth. So there are things we can do, and we need and want Bangladesh to be one of the countries that is at the top of the list of those who are fighting to make this transformation take place,” Kerry mentioned.
Since Bangladesh won its independence, the United States has provided billions of dollars to help Bangladeshis train more teachers, to modernise transportation, to improve healthcare, to promote the rights of workers and women, and produce food more efficiently, he said.
Meanwhile, Kerry said, bilateral commercial ties have expanded so that America is now Bangladesh’s largest trading partner, largest export market, and a primary source of foreign direct investment.
The $28 billion garment industry has played a uniquely important role in this rise, contributed to the annual sustained growth of your country at 6 percent, he observed.
“But growth in its own – growth just for its own sake is not our only goal. You can grow and grow and grow and grow, but you can be growing with the wrong values, you can be growing with the wrong outcomes, you can be growing with people not gaining in their rights or in their income or in their ability to get an education,” Kerry said.
He thinks growth alone is not the measurement of all that is happening and the Rana Plaza collapse and the Tazreen factory fire before it are just two of the more recent tragedies that underscore a fundamental truth: Bangladesh cannot truly meet the aspirations of its people and share prosperity if its workers are not safe and their rights are not ensured. “That is critical.”
Kerry said the United States strongly supports efforts by government, by the private sector, by unions and the international agencies, in order to increase safety inspections, to close substandard factories, and make it easier for workers to be able to report violations without fear of retaliation.
“But these steps are only part of the story. Enhancing worker safety has to be paired with strengthening workers’ rights,” he said.
The fact is garment factories across Bangladesh actually could benefit enormously from empowering laborers, allowing them to form labor unions, affording them full collective bargaining rights, because no one should ever be compelled to work in hazardous or exploitative conditions, Kerry said adding, “It’s really that simple.” – UNB


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