We have but one Earth
Bangladesh has done much but there is plenty more it can do to help protect the environment
Almost 150 countries worldwide, including Bangladesh, celebrated the golden jubilee of World Environment Day on June 5, aiming to raise public awareness.
This year, the theme “Only One Earth” emphasizes on “living sustainably in harmony with nature.” The theme calls for collective, transformative action on a global scale to protect, restore, and balance the planet against all emergencies.
The Earth faces a three-headed monster in terms of planetary emergencies; Earth is heating up too quickly for people and nature to adapt; habitat loss and anthropogenic pressures on biodiversity threaten their extinction; and pollution continues to poison our air, land, and water.
Conservationists, politicians, diplomats, bureaucrats, researchers, and scientists are working together relentlessly to face this planetary level emergency. One of the most important global outreach initiatives is to celebrate World Environment Day, which evolved in 1972 from the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, commonly known as the Stockholm Conference. Since 1974, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has been organizing the event every year.
Among the developing nations, Bangladesh is one the worst victims of climate change, and the subsequent loss of biodiversity and nature, plastic waste, pollution, and transformed ecosystem. The government of Bangladesh (GOB) has taken various measures to safeguard the environment from such challenges.
A notable initiative is the inclusion of section (18A) in the constitution of Bangladesh which states that the “state will conserve and develop the environment for people and will ensure the conservation and security of forests, wildlife, wetlands, biodiversity and natural resources.”
To comply with the section, Bangladesh has formulated the environment and different sectoral plans, acts, rules, and policies including the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100, Bangladesh biodiversity act 2017, Wildlife (Conservation and Security) act, 2012, and Brick act 2013, National Environment Policy 2018, Ecologically Critical Areas (ECAs) Management Rules 2016, National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) 2016-2021, Bangladesh Biological Diversity Act 2017, and Protected Area and Management Rules 2017.
The 8th Five Year Plan (July 2020 – June 2025), recognizes the commitment to green growth and environmental consideration. Similarly, the government’s commitment toward environmental conservation in the Perspective Plan 2041 is praiseworthy, where the areas under forest cover are targeted to increase from 14.1% to 20%.
The outputs of these initiatives are becoming visible in recent years. For example, the forest department has initiated the implementation of co-management in 22 protected areas to conserve the wildlife and biodiversity engaging the forest-dependent communities.
The Department of Environment (DOE) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MOEFCC) is mandated as the focal point to ensure the sustainable environmental governance and conservation for the benefit of present and future generations. To safeguard the environment, the DOE is formulating environmental rules and regulations; guiding, training, and promoting awareness of environmental issues; and sustainable action on critical environmental problems that demonstrate practical solutions and galvanize public support and involvement.
Other stakeholders include different ministries, departments, and agencies, development partners, NGOs, and civil society organizations (CSOs) who are working for the betterment of the environment.
Despite the progress, DOE is a bit behind to mitigate the current environmental challenges of the country due to the shortage of skilled manpower, the indifferent attitude of people about the environment, uncoordinated enforcement of rules and policies, and lack of political commitment.
Along with the mandated workforce, however, the present government is partnering with many national and international agencies to curb carbon emissions, reduce deforestation and forest degradation, introduce green energy, and encourage environmentally friendly technologies.
Development partners are working side-by-side with the GoB on environmental compliance including environmental and social safeguards to implement development projects.
Communication and outreach activities can play a vital role
in building positive attitudes and behaviour to reduce threats to the environment. Outreach awareness programs should focus on encouraging green growth, less carbon footprint lifestyle, proper waste disposal, less environmental pollution, less single use plastics use, and more greening activities.
It is time to act together with students, academicians, religious leaders, local elites, political leaders, business associations, community members, and all others for environmental sustainability, and for making the economic transformation of Bangladesh meaningful.
Md Shams Uddin is Academic and Research Coordination Specialist, Compass, USFS International Programs. Sahadeb Chandra Majumder is GIS Analyst, Compass, USFS International Programs.
Date:June 7, 2022