Climate Refugees in Crisis: Is Bangladesh on the Path to Having Legislation on Climate Displacement?

Blog by Ishani Sanyal, Junior Associate

Within the past few years, climate change-related natural disasters have been decimating communities in Bangladesh.[1] In particular, districts such as Chattogram, Bandarban, and Rangamati have been repeatedly hit with cyclones, leading to such low-lying areas to be severely impacted by flooding.[2] Sources indicate that almost 13.3 million people in Bangladesh will most likely be displaced as refugees by the year 2050 due to climate change-related disasters in Bangladesh.[3]  However, recent efforts by non-profit organizations in Bangladesh to promote better climate adaptation techniques, particularly the Climate Justice Relief Fund, seem to show promise for stronger disaster relief and internal displacement policies for climate refugees who have lost their homes due to intensifying cyclones.[4]  In addition to efforts from non-profit organizations, small towns in Bangladesh which have been particularly hard-hit by natural disasters are making drastic, nearly revolutionary changes to their flood-control systems to combat complete decimation from high-tide flooding.[5]  For instance, the mayor of the small river town of Mongla has taken the initiative to push for changes in the flood infrastructure of Mongla by establishing a seven-mile embankment, flood control gates, several acre-wide reservoirs, a new drainage system, and a water treatment plant to help provide running water to more houses in Mongla.[6]

While the provisions of the current Disaster Management Act in Bangladesh help facilitate humanitarian aid for those impacted by natural disasters in Bangladesh and promote the development of both rehabilitation programs as well as proper risk reduction programs, there has yet to be any clear legislation specifically referring to internally displaced refugees in Bangladesh who are fleeing from the effects of climate change.[7]  Nonetheless, an increasing number of towns in Bangladesh, including the town of Mongla, have incorporated climate change recommendations given by the International Centre for Climate Change and Development into their own policies.[8]  This rising popularity in adopting climate change recommendations gives hope for a new horizon on climate change policymaking. The growing will power amongst Bangladeshi community members to take active steps towards controlling the climate refugee crisis not only lays out the foundation for potential climate change legislation in Bangladesh, but also might inspire developing countries in other coastal areas of the world to follow the same path.

[1] ICCG & HCTT, Bangladesh: Chattogram Division Flash Flood and Monsoon Rain 2023- Situation Report No. 01 (As of 13 August 2023), UNOCHA, (Aug. 13, 2023, 10:00 AM),

[2] Id.

[3] Sadiqur Rahman, How Bangladesh is Supporting Climate Refugees, BBC, (Dec. 7, 2023),

[4] Id.

[5] Kaamil Ahmed & Isabel Choat, Port in a Storm: The Trailblazing Town Welcoming Climate Refugees in Bangladesh, The Guardian, (Jan. 24, 2022, 1:01 PM),

[6] Id.

[7] Disaster Management Act, 2012 (Act No. 34/2012) (India), ¶ 9(a)-(b).; See Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, National Strategy on Internal Displacement Management, Gov’t of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, 32 (2021),

[8] See Ahmed & Choat, supra note 4.

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