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Environment and Global Climate Change

Image of a woman in Bangladesh planting mangrove saplings
A female farmer readies a mangrove sapling for planting. USAID sponsors mangrove tree planting in villages near the Sundarbans to help reverse deforestation and protect the coastline from storm surges caused by severe weather in the Bay of Bengal.
David Darg/RYOT

With over 160 million people, Bangladesh is the one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The majority of Bangladeshis rely on the country’s natural resources to support their livelihoods, which places tremendous strain on the environment and economy. Frequent natural disasters, degradation of forest areas and wetlands, and the need to meet the country’s energy demand without endangering the environment are key challenges to address in making Bangladesh more resilient to climate change. USAID works with the Bangladesh Government to respond and adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects on the most vulnerable populations.

Improving Management of Natural Resources

Healthy, well-functioning, and biodiverse ecosystems increase resilience to natural hazards and promote long-term sustainability of development gains in poverty alleviation, food and water security, human health, and disaster risk reduction. Improving the sustainability and management of forests, wetlands, and rivers is essential to reduce poverty and help Bangladeshis adapt to the effects of climate change.

For more than a decade, USAID has helped Bangladesh protect its natural resources and biodiversity by bringing together local communities and the government to form committees that co-manage more than 900,000 hectares of wetlands and forest areas. These community co-management groups monitor protected areas to conserve flora and fauna, prevent illegal poaching, and reduce natural resource degradation. USAID also teaches people living near these protected areas new job skills to generate alternative income sources, directly increasing economic benefits to nearly 200,000 individuals.

Increasing Resilience to Climate Change Impacts

Two-thirds of the country has an elevation of five meters or less which leaves the country vulnerable to devastating natural disasters. Bangladesh is consistently cited as one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, exposed to a variety of natural disasters including cyclones, floods, earthquakes, and landslides, and ranks first in the world in terms of vulnerability. Long-term impacts from a rise in sea level and global temperature could displace millions of people. Improving the country’s resilience to immediate and future climate risks is essential to the continuing development of Bangladesh.

USAID supports training for communities in the most vulnerable areas to become better prepared to mitigate the effects of natural disasters and recover from climatic shocks. These programs have helped establish early warning systems to alert people to flooding and incoming cyclones. USAID has also constructed multi-purpose cyclone shelters to provide a safe haven for communities in the most vulnerable areas of Bangladesh. In addition, USAID provides technical assistance to local government to promote better use of climate information and analysis in decision-making and become more responsive to the needs of local constituents.

Strengthening Capacity to Reduce Emissions

Bangladesh has made great strides in expanding its power distribution network but can only meet about 80 percent of the nation’s electricity demand.  The Government of Bangladesh recognizes the importance of renewable energy production and increased energy efficiency in meeting the country’s energy needs and has set an ambitious target of 10 percent energy production from renewable energy resources by 2020. While plans to boost energy production will increase greenhouse gas emission, Bangladesh was the first country to sign a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Government under the “Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies” initiative. USAID promotes improved efficiency in energy generation, bolster regulation of emissions, and expand the use of clean and renewable sources of energy, including solar and wind power.


In 2017, USAID programs in Bangladesh:

  • Provided training to over 75,000 people to be less dependent on natural resources through sustainable agriculture, aquaculture, and poultry rearing reducing pressure on sensitive habitats.
  • Reduced carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1,200,000 metric tons.
  • Improved management of 945,190 hectares of forests and wetlands with the improved capacity and active participation of 30 community management organizations and 74 community-based organizations. 

NEW: Read the 2016 Bangladesh Tropical Forest and Biodiversity Assessment 

Millions of Bangladeshis depend on the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, for food, resources, and shelter. See how USAID is working with Bangladesh to protect the forest, its native royal Bengal tigers and other important animal species, and help people living in this area become less reliant on natural resources for food and their livelihood.



Last updated: February 25, 2020

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