COP26: U.S. Ambassador’s Trip Highlights Climate Resilience Programs on St. Martin’s Island, Cox’s Bazar

U.S. Ambassador Earl Miller, Japanese Ambassador Ito Naoki, EU Ambassador Charles Whiteley, Australian High Commissioner Jeremy Bruer, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Secretary of the Maritime Affairs Unit Rear Admiral (Retd.) Md. Khurshed Alam, BN talk to a resident of St. Martin’s Island ab

During COP26, Ambassador Miller traveled to Cox’s Bazar and St. Martin’s Island to see U.S. climate resilience projects, observe the effects of climate change, and learn how residents are adapting.

DHAKA, November 9, 2021 – While COP26 continues in Glasgow, Scotland, U.S. Ambassador Miller visited U.S. government climate resilience projects in Cox’s Bazar and traveled to St. Martin’s Island to assess the effects of climate change and learn about local adaptation efforts.

“COP26 in Glasgow is a pivotal moment at the start of this decisive decade to tackle the climate crisis,” Ambassador Miller said. “The climate crisis is here. This is not a challenge for future generations. Together, we must confront it today.”

Ambassador Miller learned about severe coastal erosion and sea level rise on the island, the impact on local fisheries, the degradation of coral colonies, and local efforts to restore mangroves and protect shorelines.

The United States has partnered with Bangladesh on many climate resilience projects in the Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf area. For example, the U.S. government, through its Agency for International Development (USAID), has donated more than 140 renovated cyclone shelters to the Cox’s Bazar district administration, including one on St. Martin’s Island, to protect residents from frequent natural disasters. Since 2001, USAID has constructed over 700 multi-purpose cyclone shelters that serve as both safe havens and as schools in Bangladesh. Additionally, USAID support has strengthened flood forecasting and early warning systems to provide residents life-saving time to evacuate to shelter.

U.S. Ambassador Earl Miller visits a family garden to understand a USAID-funded climate resilience project.

Ambassador Miller was joined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Secretary of the Maritime Affairs Unit Rear Admiral (Retd.) Md. Khurshed Alam, BN, MoFA Director (Americas) Syed Shah Saad Andalib, EU Ambassador Charles Whiteley, Japanese Ambassador Ito Naoki, Australian High Commissioner Jeremy Bruer, and Australian First Secretary — Development Cooperation, Kate Sangster.

USAID supports the Bangladesh Forest Service and local communities to co-manage forests and wetlands, including the Teknaf Wildlife Sanctuary, thereby protecting more than 1.8 million acres of critical ecosystems across the country. The U.S. government also supports restoration projects for degraded landscapes and ecosystems within the Teknaf Wildlife Sanctuary.

Prior to his trip to St. Martin’s, Ambassador Miller visited USAID climate resilience projects where U.S. investments have helped farmers adapt new techniques to overcome soil salinity, use organic pest control, and plant new trees while protecting existing natural resources.