Adaptation to Climate Change in Development Planning in Bangladesh

At a glance




July 2019 – June 2023


The Bangladesh Planning Commission, Ministry of Planning, The Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh


GIS, Climate Data, Climate Risk Information, Adaptation to Climate Change


Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Department of Environment (DoE), Water Resources Planning Organization (WARPO), Department of Hoar and Wetland Development (DBHWD), Department of Disaster Management (DDM), Soil Resource Development Institute (SRDI), Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), Department of Forest (DoF), Bangladesh Metrological Department (BMD), Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), Urban Development Directorate (UDD), Geological Survey of Bangladesh (GSB), Bangladesh Railway (BR), Survey of Bangladesh (SoB), Department of Land Record and Survey (DLRS), Roads And Highway Department (RHD), Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB), Water Development Board (WDB)


SDG #8, SDG #9, SDG #11, SDG #13

The Challenge

Bangladesh is located in the delta of three major rivers: Padma, Jamuna-Brahmaputra and Meghna. It has more than 170 million inhabitants. It is one of the 12 most densely populated countries in the world and one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change (ranked 160 out of 181 in the ND-GAIN vulnerability index, June 2023). Sea levels in the Bay of Bengal are expected to rise by 30 to 45 centimetres by 2050. This would lead to a loss of more than one-tenth of Bangladesh's land area and the internal displacement of 10 to 30 million people. Climate change is both an environmental and developmental issue that permeates all sectors.  

One highly relevant sector is infrastructure. Currently, there is limited consideration of climate risks in the planning of infrastructure projects by the Government of Bangladesh. This poses significant challenges to the country's development and sustainability.

The Approach

In order to support the Bangladesh Planning Commission, Ministry of Planning, and the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh a Planning Information System (PLIS) was developed. PLIS is a system that integrates geographic information system (GIS) technology and climate risk data. This bolsters the resilience of public investments against climate impacts.

Officials from the Bangladesh Planning Commission can employ PLIS when appraising project proposals by overlaying the relevant area with data layers such as water resources, physical features, soil conditions, land use plans, disaster risk information and climate change projections. This integrated analysis allows for a comprehensive evaluation of relevant aspects of the project, enabling evidence-based decisions which enhance the project's resilience to climate change effects.

The Benefits

Currently, investment in public infrastructure often does not systematically take climate resilience into account. National actors may encounter challenges in effectively utilizing climate information due to limited data access and capacity constraints. As a result, climate resilience is not systematically incorporated into public investment projects and national development planning.  

By strengthening evidence-based decision-making in the planning and review processes, the proportion of people vulnerable to climate change impacts can be reduced. Planning officials can appraise Development Project Proposals (DPP) with greater regard to climate thanks to the integration of a tool known as the Climate Check Method (CCM) within the Planning Information System (PLIS).

80 percent

of land in Bangladesh is comprised of flood plains and wetlands adorned by more than 7,000 rivers.

The context

Bangladesh, with a land area of 14,570 square kilometres, is a vast delta. It possesses a distinctive natural resource base with approximately 80% of its land comprising flood plains and wetlands adorned by more than 7,000 rivers. Situated in close proximity to the Eastern Himalayas and serving as the receiving country for most of its watershed Bangladesh is extremely susceptible to frequent flooding.

Bangladesh, being one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world, is exposed to a high range of climate vulnerabilities such as erratic rainfall pattern, tropical cyclones, sea level rises, salinity intrusion, floods and droughts. The coastal and mangrove areas (the Sundarbans: about 39,400, are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise.

Figure 1: Hotspots for climate risk according to the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 (Source: PLIS)

It is therefore essential to incorporate climate risk information when it comes to state investments in infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and highways.  

The Planning Information System (PLIS) and the Climate Check Method (CCM)

A Planning Information System (PLIS) based on a Geographic Information System (GIS) has been developed. It provides planning officials with a digitalized tool to appraise government investment projects with a climate change adaptation lens. Climate risk information and geospatial data becomes accessible and usable, allowing the potential impacts of climate change such as floods, cyclones or extreme heat to be taken into account. This allows for the creation of resilient infrastructure and services that can withstand future climate conditions. PLIS is a user-friendly digital platform that enables government officials from different wings and Sector Divisions of the Bangladesh Planning Commission to use climate risk information effectively.

Relevant information, such as the historical and current behaviour of rivers, including their changes over the past ten years, is integrated into PLIS giving stakeholders crucial insights into climate risks and potential necessary adaptations.

Suppose, for instance, that there is a proposal to construct a power plant in Bangladesh. The user can create a new project in PLIS including the desired location of the plant.

A map of a cityDescription automatically generated with low confidence
Figure 3 PLIS Example: Power Plant No layers selected.

In the user interface, various layers such as Water Resources, Physical Features, Soil Condition, Spatial Planning and Land Use, or Disaster Management can be selected for spatial analysis.

A map of a riverDescription automatically generated with low confidence
Figure 4 PLIS Example: Power Plant Relevant layers have been selected.

After the relevant layers have been selected the user will be forwarded to the Climate Check Method (CCM).  

The CCM is designed to help identify and develop appropriate adaptation measures that are specific to a particular location or region in Bangladesh. The CCM is a framework that has been created by drawing upon the Climate Check Questions. These questions have been formulated by analysing various plans, reports, guidelines, laws and policies of the Bangladesh government. After analysing the selected relevant climate information and answering the CCM questions a pdf that summarizes the findings will be generated.

A screenshot of a test resultsDescription automatically generated with medium confidence
Figure 5: PLIS Example: Power Plant Climate Check Method Questionaries

How can better data contribute to better policy?

By integrating climate data into policy formulation, policymakers can identify vulnerable areas, assess potential risks and develop targeted strategies for adaptation and mitigation. This data-driven approach promotes evidence-based policymaking, enhances resilience planning and ensures that policies align with the long-term goal of sustainable development in the face of climate change challenges.

Where do we go from here?

After handing over PLIS and CCM to the political partner, the Planning Commission will extend the project for another year to further the roll out of this approach. The software is interoperable with the Planning Commission's in-house software allowing the tool to be anchored within the move to digitalize the complete public investment project appraisal process. PLIS and CCM can potentially also be used during the planning of new government projects, allowing climate risks information to be incorporated from the very beginning.

Case Downloads

Planning InformationSystem (PLIS)

Further ressources

Climate resilient urban areas for all
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