PM holds talks with Prince Charles, Bill Gates

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday held talks with heir apparent to the British throne Prince Charles and US business magnates and philanthropists Bill Gates and Melinda Gates on climate change and development issues on COP26 sidelines.

Briefing newsmen on the premier’s day’s engagements, foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said during the talks with the two global figures she highlighted Bangladesh challenges, initiatives and demands to face the climate change impacts.

He said Charles was accompanied by representatives of four major banks including the HSBC while the Prince of Wales, who undertakes official duties on behalf of the Queen, talked about private sector engagements in the climate issues.

“They want private sectors to be involved in the climate issues,” Momen said, adding that during the meeting the premier gave some proposals seeking investment in renewable energy sector, particularly in offshore wind energy and building embankments and roads along the costal belts and riversides.

Sheikh Hasina told the meeting that her government took a bold decision to scrap 10 coal-based power plants involving US$12 billion foreign investment, reflecting Bangladesh’s willingness to concentrate on renewable energy in the interest of environment.

The Charles-led delegation said they would examine the proposals visiting Bangladesh as they wanted to participate in Bangladesh’s development process.

All the British dignitaries, Momen said, commented that Bangladesh was doing very excellent in terms of development and climate resilience under Sheikh Hasina’s dynamic leadership.

During her talks with Bill Gates and Melinda Gates, the Bangladesh premier highlighted her government’s measures on climate issues such as taking climate adaptation programmes and for the country’s overall development.

According to Momen, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates said they were inspired by the digitization and the agricultural development of Bangladesh and expressed their desire to work more to this end.

The prime minister also described how successfully Bangladesh worked to tackle the Covid-19 in partnership with others, while its campaign for rapid digitization.

Sheikh Hasina told them Bangladesh spent a huge amount of money under different government programmes for the ordinary people through cell phones and telephones during the Covid-19 period taking the advantage of digitized Bangladesh.

She also stressed the need for conducting research on various fields including climate change, Momen said.

“They (Gates’) also gave some proposals. We are looking into it,” Momen said.

Supplementing the foreign minister, PM’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus said that Bill Gates and Melinda Gates have long been working in Bangladesh’s agriculture and other sectors.