October 30, 2023

Remembering Dr. Saleemul Huq, pioneering Bangladeshi climate scientist and campaigner

Dr. Saleemul Huq, speaking at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021. Image credit: Doug Peters/ UK Government, COP26, licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence.

We are deeply saddened to share the loss of pioneering Bangladeshi climate scientist and campaigner Dr. Saleemul Huq, who passed away on Saturday in Dhaka.

Dr. Huq was an eminent figure in the field of climate advocacy and research. A titan for climate justice, he was a fixture at every annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP), consistently the first to arrive and the last to depart. With a relentless commitment to climate justice, he spent three decades urging industrialised nations to acknowledge the devastation of climate loss and damage. His resounding voice demanded countries live up to their promises on adaptation funding, making him a tireless advocate for people on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

Notably, Dr. Huq possessed a unique talent for fostering consensus among diverse groups. His ability to bring people together was remarkable, even if it meant challenging representatives from industrialised nations. To recognise his achievements, Dr. Huq was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the late Queen Elizabeth in the 2022 New Year Honours for his tireless work and service combating climate change. Dr. Huq was also a senior associate with the International Institute for Environment and Development, where he contributed to southern-led knowledge and action research on vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in the least developed countries (LDCs).

Dr. Huq visited BRAC’s London office in July of this year, where he shared a message of hope and optimism in the fight against climate change. Lewis Temple, Chief Executive at BRAC UK, described Dr. Huq’s “inspirational humility in light of his extraordinary achievements over decades helping humanity grasp the climate action nettle.” Asif Saleh, Executive Director of BRAC Bangladesh, said that Dr. Huq’s death was “a loss for me, for Bangladesh, for Global South, for the world.”

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Dr. Huq was a man of great compassion. He extended his kindness and generosity to all, especially to young researchers and activists. He tirelessly championed scholars and knowledge from the global south, offering mentorship to thousands of individuals. His gentle and warm demeanor provided hope in a world often filled with despair, and his loss is felt deeply at BRAC. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and the many colleagues around the world whom he inspired, at this difficult time.