IOM Chief of Staff Sarmad Opens Delta Coalition Conference in Dhaka

Capacity Building, Migration and Climate Change, Migration and Environment

Dhaka – The Delta Coalition met this week (28–29 July) for the Second Ministerial Conference and Working Group Meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The Conference was convened by 12 States belonging to four continents under the chairmanship of Bangladesh. It was composed of three thematic sessions that aim to explore ways to sustain, secure and improve the life and livelihood of the people in the Deltaic regions through initiating adaptive, preventive and resilience measures in the context of the impacts of climate change.

Representing IOM, the UN Migration Agency, Chief of Staff Ovais Sarmad gave the opening remarks and chaired the first thematic session on coastal delta management challenges and opportunities in the face of rapid climate change and urbanization, and mobility management.

He noted that deltas are recognized globally as economic and environmental hotspots but are equally very fragile environments due to sensitivity to climate change and the high density of populations they support.

“Delta regions are some of the most biodiverse areas on the planet, and are also the most urbanized, containing significant areas of industrial development in the world,” Sarmad said.

He added, “The challenges are perfectly exemplified in Bangladesh, with the largest delta in the world, which is severely affected by salinity intrusion, cyclones, and storm surges, causing people to move. In the northern part of the country, drought and declining fresh water availability also lead people to move. The poorest often migrate internally – flocking to cities to find more opportunities and better services. The unmanaged mobility has led to increased urban poverty, inequity and pressure on the already stretched urban infrastructure in Dhaka.”

He mentioned the UN Habitat report published in 2015 ranking Dhaka as the world’s most crowded city in the world with an estimated population density of 44,500 persons per square km and an urbanization rate of 3.7 per cent.

Sarmad took the opportunity to highlight IOM’s central objectives in managing mobility due to the impact of climate change: prevention as far as possible of displacement resulting from environmental factors; provision of humanitarian assistance and protection of affected people when displacement occurs; and facilitation of migration as an adaptation strategy to climate change.

He concluded, “Despite mounting challenges, there are strong indications of the international community’s desire and commitment to address the impact of rapid climate change with renewed purposefulness and determination.”

The Delta Coalition was officially launched at a ministerial conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2016. It is the world’s first international coalition composed of 12 deltaic countries that aims to increase the resilience of at least a quarter of a billion people living in deltas. Its members are the Governments of the Netherlands, France, Egypt, Mozambique, Colombia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Viet Nam, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.

(Ovais Sarmad was recently appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, as Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). He is expected to take up his new position in August this year.)

For further information, please contact Sarat Dash, IOM Dhaka, Email: