News | 02 November 2023

The world loses a great champion of climate justice

In memory of Prof. Dr Saleemul Huq
Saleemul Huq

Saleemul Huq / ICCCAD (CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed)

We are shocked by the news that Prof. Dr Saleemul Huq passed away on 28 October at the age of 71 and express our deepest condolences to his family.

Our long-time friend, climate expert with citizenship of Bangladesh and the United Kingdom was, among others, founder and director of the International Centre on Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) in Bangladesh and professor at the Independent University Bangladesh. He has repeatedly launched new initiatives to support developing countries, such as the establishment of the Climate Vulnerable Forum and the strengthening of universities in the least developed countries, but also at the national level in Bangladesh. It is impressive how he has also been a mentor for young people  – budding scientists, climate negotiators or activists.

With Saleemul Huq, the world loses a warm-hearted person and a great champion for climate justice, with whom Germanwatch has been closely associated for more than two decades. During this time, he was a constant advisor, intellectual sparring and co-operation partner in the engagement for the concerns of those particularly affected by climate change. In the early 2000s, when adaptation to climate change was hardly talked about, Saleemul shared his expertise with us.

In 2011 and 2012, Germanwatch, together with ICCCAD, the UN University in Bonn, and the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative, implemented the 'Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Initiative', which played an important role in putting loss and damage on the agenda of the UN climate negotiations. We are currently supporting ICCCAD in the development of a national mechanism on climate damage in Bangladesh.

At every COP, our meetings with Saleemul were a highlight of warmth, humour, empathy, strategy, and friendship. He also had a unifying effect across the great disparities, with solidarity for those affected in the Global North – whether in New York or in the Ahr Valley – and with the conviction that richer countries can also learn something from the decades of experience in climate adaptation in developing countries for their own protection.

We at Germanwatch are grateful to Saleemul for the initiatives and memories we shared, learning from each other and him, and his commitment to a more climate-friendly world. The memory of him will give us additional energy to stand up for the concerns of those particularly affected by climate change, even in times of multiple geopolitical crises, and to advocate for key building blocks of climate justice such as Loss and Damage and the 1.5°C limit. Thank you, Saleem!