European Capacity Building Initiative

In Memoriam Saleemul Huq (1952-2023): Some Personal Reminiscences

I have known Saleem as a friend and collaborator for most of this century and was promoting the idea of Climate Solidarity Levies at a meeting with representatives of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda when I learned the shocking and truly tragic news that he had passed away. Although he had been hospitalised for a viral infection, he had recovered enough to return home the week before only to be taken from us by what his obituaries (Dhaka Tribune, The Daily Star, The Guardian) referred to as "a massive cardiac arrest." Saleem's stellar career is well documented, not least in the mentioned obituaries. All I can do is add some personal reminiscences from our interactions over the last two decades.

If memory serves me, which is not always the case anymore, Saleem and I first met as part of a project consortium at the turn of the century, in which we proposed a capacity- and trust-building module for (developing country) climate negotiators. The project proposal did not succeed, but we both felt the module was worth preserving and subsequently founded the ecbi in 2005, with Saleem heading what was then know as the "Workshop Programme" and I the "Fellowship Programme".



Benito Müller and Saleemul Huq in their bottom-of-the-escalator office at the World Conference Centre in Bonn in June 2023

In order to do our job, he and I used to annex a strategically placed table in front of the Brasserie near the main entrance in the Maritim Hotel in Bonn, where the negotiations took place at the time. On more than one occasion, the strategic position of our 'office' was validated when the late Don Pearlman, Executive Director of the then notorious coal-funded Climate Council occupied it before we arrived (we usually got it back the next morning -- early birds etc).

Saleem headed the ecbi Workshop Programme until he moved to Dhaka to set up the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD). In 2021, we approached Saleem with the proposal for ICCCAD to take over management of the current "Training and Support Programme" for Phase V of the ecbi, and I was very pleased when he agreed. As it happens, only a few weeks ago, Saleem signed the donor contract that will allow the Programme to begin activities again, following a two-year hiatus. Kishan Kumarsingh, who will be managing the training workshops in the Caribbean, and I were already looking forward to Saleem's participation. Sadly, this was not meant to be. But we will soldier on keeping his memory and legacy going!

Requiesce in pace, care amice!



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