Bangladesh was No. 6 on the Long Term Climate Risk Index of countries most affected by climate change from 1997 to 2016. The United Nations contents that climate change disproportionately impacts women, since they are more likely to be poor and dependent on local resources.
It is hopeful, then, that the UN's Green Climate Fund and Bangladesh's Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs will put $33 million towards helping Bangladeshi women and girls develop livelihoods that can withstand the changing climate, Reuters reported on Monday.
According to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) release, the funds will go towards empowering 25,000 women living in Satkhira and Khulna, coastal districts especially vulnerable to sea level rise, more frequent storms, and the salinization of farmland and drinking water.
The project will increase the women's access to business development training and financial credit. In addition, it will help them develop climate-resilient skills such as hydroponic vegetable farming, UNDP climate change specialist Mamunur Rashid told Reuters.
The initiative, which is set to begin in July and has a six-year timeline, also aims to provide clean drinking water to 130,000 people through rainwater harvesting and involve women in cyclone-warning systems.
The focus on women's roles in adapting to climate change "marks a paradigm-shift in the way women are empowered as 'change-agents'" the UNDP release said.
"Under this project, women will [be] more in command of their, and their communities', own future," Mia Seppo, UNDP resident representative in Bangladesh, added.
The announcement comes little over six months after flooding in India, Nepal and Bangladesh killed 1,200 people and left one-third of Bangladesh underwater. According to The World Bank, 60 percent of worldwide cyclone deaths from 1988 to 2000 occurred in Bangladesh.
1,200 Dead, 41 Million Affected by Flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal https://t.co/zaOeQAKQw0 @wbclimatechange @globalgreen— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1505252107.0
The salinization of farmland and drinking water is a less dramatic but more insidious problem for the low-lying country. According to studies of coastal river salinization in Bangladesh by The World Bank, The Institute of Water Modelling and World Fish–Bangladesh, the best-case scenarios would still impact 2.9 million poor and 1.7 million extremely poor Bangladeshis.
While initiatives like this one show that Bangladesh is working hard to adapt to the climate challenge, the country is still set to lose 20 percent of its landmass if sea levels rise by 3 feet, even though it only contributes 0.3 percent to global emissions, according to Scientific American. This would turn more than 30 million people into climate refugees.
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The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
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Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.