By Nadine Suliman
If I was told a year ago that I will be living in Bangladesh for a few months to research climate change and development issues, I wouldn’t have believed it. But then I was encouraged by my thesis supervisor, Dr Joanne Jordan, to apply to be a Visiting Researcher at the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at the Independent University of Bangladesh. It didn’t take me long to send my application after considering the possibilities that could arise from the six month post, which I began in January after finishing my Master’s degree at the Global Development Institute at The University of Manchester.
It was the perfect opportunity for me after my Master’s, giving me a glimpse of the professional career world, while still maintaining my ties to academia. Having pursued the climate change and development pathway at the Global Development Institute, Bangladesh seemed like the ideal place to be in at the start of my career.
My knowledge of Bangladesh was limited to the few lectures where we discussed the country’s vulnerability to climate change and its overall development status. It seemed unique in comparison to any country I have ever been to, but very far outside my comfort zone.
Everyone at ICCCAD was very welcoming and the young and skillful atmosphere in the office helped me acclimatise. I took my time to explore the different projects and was able to contribute to urban resilience, gender and climate change, youth and climate change, and capacity development programmes. The diversity of ICCCAD’s programmes allowed me to take a holistic approach to my research interests and gave me plenty of ideas for the future.
I met with Dr Saleemul Huq, Director of ICCCAD and Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development, and discussed my future goals and what I wished to gain from my time in Bangladesh. He provided much needed guidance, and reminded me to keep an open mind in terms of my aspirations and get as much exposure to the different aspects and sub-fields of climate change work on the ground. Saleem supported my ideas and assured me that ICCCAD is the best place to experience the practical side of development and climate change.
I was lucky to witness part of a major shift at ICCCAD, as it began and continues to break ground in capacity development and South-South climate change response initiatives, including through its renowned Least Developed Countries Universities Consortium for Climate Change (LUCCC). LUCCC, a consortium of 10 universities in the Global South founded by ICCCAD at IUB and Makerere University in Uganda, aims to enhance knowledge sharing and research capacities on climate change in the South and promote collaborations and South-South response initiatives. LUCCC has shown me that creating research at the source of the problem, while involving all stakeholders and specifically younger generations, is the most effective way to craft climate change responses.
It was overwhelming yet eye-opening to learn about the numerous adaptation projects taking place and being initiated in Bangladesh, but what was more interesting was the level of climate change awareness and futuristic insights among the youth. This reaffirmed for me the importance of the direction ICCCAD is taking, focusing its efforts on engaging the youth in multi-scalar climate change discussions and developing the capacities of those in countries where climate change impacts are manifested the most, i.e. the South.
My time in Dhaka was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I have experienced what spicy food really means, took many rikshaw rides, saw fields and fields of green that will turn to rivers during the monsoon season, attended three day long weddings, met researchers and practitioners from several countries all-over the world, conducted insightful workshops with university students in Dhaka and discovered what climate change adaptation looks like on the ground. My six months in at ICCCAD has already opened up many doors, through global connections and practical knowledge, and clarified the path I will take to reach my future research goals.
The Global Development Institute – International Centre for Climate Change and Development internship programme was established by Dr Joanne Jordan.