Statement by H.E. Ambassador Masud Bin Momen, Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh at the General Assembly debate under Agenda item 70 (Request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change), March 29, 2023, UN General Assembly Hall

Thank you, Mr. President,

I wish to begin by congratulating you as well as all the members of this august Assembly on this historic day. We have just adopted, without a vote, a resolution requesting for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change.

This is an important milestone in our decades-long struggle for climate justice. And Bangladesh, having been part of this historic process, is both proud and grateful. We thank all members of this Assembly for supporting this resolution; and for sending to the Court a strong signal of unity and solidarity against climate change.

I wish to take this opportunity to express our most sincere appreciation to the Government of Vanuatu for their extraordinary leadership. I also thank all the fellow members of the core group [Angola, Antigua & Barbuda, Costa Rica, Germany, Liechtenstein, Federated States of Micronesia, Morocco, Mozambique, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Uganda, and Vietnam] for their commitment, passion and tenacity in drafting this resolution and leading it to its consensus adoption.


Mr. President,

Climate change is an existential challenge for Bangladesh. We are a low-lying coastal country with greater exposure to the hazards caused by climate change, sea level rise and associated disasters.

Apart from increased frequency and intensity of floods, cyclones, droughts and loss of biodiversity, climate change is severely affecting our food, energy, water, health and economic security. It has also been directly or indirectly forcing millions of people to leave their homes and livelihoods leading to widespread displacement and migration, within and across borders.

Considering that we have had the least to do with this challenge, the impacts are grossly disproportionate. Our carbon footprint is among the lowest, contributing less than 0.6 tons per capita emission against a global average of 4.5 tons. Yet, climate change related weather events account for at least 2% of our GDP every year.

Mr. President,

Successive IPCC reports have alerted us on the risks that climate change poses to the humanity. The latest synthesis report published this month, says, “risks and projected adverse impacts and related losses and damages from climate change escalate with every increment of global warming”. Moreover, it adds, “climatic and non-climatic risks will increasingly interact, creating compound and cascading risks that are more complex and difficult to manage.”

And these are based on the estimate of reaching 1.5°C in the near term in considered scenarios and projections.

There are predictions of higher rise in the global temperature – something the Secretary General has called ‘a road to climate hell’.

If we look at the current scenario of extreme weather events and losses and damages caused by climate change, it is easy to assume that the implications of continued temperature rise will be deadly for the planet and its inhabitants.

With a limited capacity to adapt as a least developed country, for us the questions of equity, justice and just transition are not mere words, rather these are questions of our existence.

Mr. President,

Bangladesh has demonstrated strong commitment to fight the impacts of climate change within its own means. We have led to many transformative measures to tackle perilous impacts of climate change consistent with implementing the Paris Agreement and for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. During our Presidency of Climate Vulnerable Forum, we launched ‘Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan’, which aims to put Bangladesh on a sustainable trajectory from “one of vulnerability to resilience to climate prosperity”. We are implementing locally led adaptation measures.

However, given the enormity of this global challenge, the efforts of Bangladesh with a very low carbon (almost nil) footprint can only be a drop in the ocean. We are deeply concerned that the global response to climate change is nowhere close to what is needed for the survival of humanity.

Mr. President,

There are serious gaps between projected emissions from implemented policies and those from NDCs.  And finance flows fall short of the levels needed to meet climate goals across all sectors and regions, particularly in adaptation efforts in developing countries.

There is no agreed definition of climate finance. Also, despite greater needs in financing just transition and adaptation, we see growing expenditure in military budgets, armaments, in funding wars and conflicts, or even bailing out companies during financial crisis. We are still far removed from convergence of views on the issue of climate displacements.

Mr. President,

Against this backdrop this resolution presents a defining moment for us. We hope this resolution and the consequent advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice will provide a better understanding of the legal implications of climate change under international law and the rights of present and future generations.

As a member of the core group, we will remain engaged throughout the process, including by making submissions to the Court, as and when invited to. We call upon all member States to do the same.

Mr. President,

Before I conclude allow me to repeat what Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in this august Assembly, “the impact of climate change is one of the biggest threats for the humankind. In the past, we have seen a vicious cycle of promises being made and broken. We must now change this course.” Unquote.

We believe today’s resolution is an important step in that direction.

I thank you.