Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.

Climate Change in Bangladesh

Located between India and Burma along the Indian Ocean, Bangladesh is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world due to its geography. The country regularly experiences natural hazards such as floods, cyclones, and droughts, adversely impacting infrastructure and livelihoods and resulting in individual and community displacement. Climate change is set to exacerbate these problems. With a population of approximately 165 million—more than 50 million of whom live in poverty and nearly 50 million living in coastal areas—huge numbers of people are affected by both sudden-onset and slow-onset events. Tidal height increases and tidal flooding in the coastal areas and riverbank erosion in the mainland are the primary causes of climate displacement and those living along the coast and in the river delta region are the most affected. Sea level rise, coastal erosion, saltwater intrusion, flooding, and land subsidence are also major concerns.

  • Approximately six million Bangladeshis have already been displaced due to climate hazards.
  • In 2017, there were 946,000 new disaster-related displacements within the country.
  • In the next 40 years, 20 to 25 million people face potential displacement due to sea level rise alone, according to the government.

With support from Displacement Solutions, Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) works on the issue of climate displacement, including housing, land, and property rights, in the coastal areas of Bangladesh, in islands spanning from Cox’s Bazaar to Chandpur district. In a 2018 study, YPSA identified approximately 38,000 displaced households in the three most vulnerable sub-districts of Cox’s Bazaar and Chittagong (Kutubdia Island, Pekua, and Banskhali). These communities are dealing with coastal erosion, sea level rise, and tidal waves. YPSA has already relocated four families from Sandwip Island to the mainland. To further assist with the planned relocation of displaced households, YPSA is preparing a comprehensive proposal for community-driven, planned relocation of highly vulnerable climate-displaced households along the southeastern coast of Bangladesh with support from the Climate Justice Resilience Fund. One representative from YPSA will be attending the convening.