The Meghna Knowledge Forum laid the foundation of a multi-stakeholder knowledge exchange platform for the Meghna river basin.
More than 100 participants from across the Meghna basin joined the three-day forum, including high level dignitaries, Silchar MP Dr Rajdeep Roy, MP from Bangladesh Saber Hossain Chowdhury and Bangladesh planning minister MA Mannan.
Designed as a virtual event, the forum’s objective was to facilitate partnerships among different stakeholders and sectors to address knowledge gaps in the implementation of an Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) in the Meghna river basin.
Highlighting the significance of Barak-Meghna river system, Silchar MP Roy said, “Barak river is rich in biodiversity and more than 100 species of fish, including the Ganges Dolphin, listed as endangered species have been recorded from Barak river in India.”
The forum included 10 different thematic sessions and more than 40 speakers from diverse sectors, including from the Garo and Kashi indigenous communities.
The speakers shared their perspectives on the wide range of issues linked to culture, water governance, climate change and inland navigation.
“There are more than 276 shared river basins across the world, Meghna basin is one of them,” said Saber Hossain Chowdhury, MP and chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee in Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bangladesh.
He further said: “Through MKF 2021, we hope to move from a situation of conflict to cooperation, as the forum dialogue is linked to creation and enhancement of the benefits from the Meghna basin through trans-boundary cooperation.”
The forum also highlighted the need to strengthen the governance of the basin, and make it more inclusive and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the indigenous community, said a statement.
It also showcased examples of community-led nature-based solutions supported by governments, that needs to be documented, upscaled and replicated across the basin.
The virtual meet was convened by IUCN in partnership with more than 15 different organizations, from Bangladesh and India.
The Meghna river basin is significant for both Bangladesh and India as it supports the livelihoods of almost 50 million people.
The area is also considerably large — almost twice the size of Switzerland — with 47,000 km2 of the basin located in India and 35,000 km2 located downstream in Bangladesh, the statement added.