Looking back at 50: Environmental rhetoric to realty in Bangladesh
Dhaka University Law and Politics Review (DULPR) hosted a panel discussion titled ‘Looking Back at 50: Environmental Rhetoric to Reality in Bangladesh’ on the occasion of the World Environment Day 2021. The discussion was hosted by Shahrima Tanjin Arni, Editor in Chief, DULPR.
Justice Md Ashraful Kamal, Honourable Judge of the High Court Division, Supreme Court of Bangladesh presided the discussion as the Chief Guest and Dr. A.S.M. Maksud Kamal, Professor and Pro-Vice Chancellor (Academic) of University of Dhaka joined as the Guest of Honour.
The distinguished panel consisted of Mr. Mohammad Sulaiman Haider, Director (Planning) of Department of Environment, Mr. Arif M. Faisal, Programme Specialist (Nature, climate and energy) at UNDP Bangladesh and Mohammad Golam Sarwar, Assistant Professor of Law at University of Dhaka.
The panel highlighted Bangladesh’s journey in legal framework relating to environment, the role of Department of Environment, Bangladesh’s success in harnessing government-development sector partnership in last 50 years.
In his speech Mr. Mohammad Golam Sarwar pointed out how many existing laws, if not all, have been shaped in an ecocentric environmental mentality alongside espousing sustainable development. He underlined the dire need to ensure corporate environmental accountability of big corporations to internalise the environmental effect of their industrial actions.
Mr. Mohammad Solaiman Haider observed that Bangladesh has lived in harmony with the nature up until the 80s and that a subsequent revolution of industrialization resulted in robust institutional and legal framework which is still thriving. He emphasized on public awareness and responsiveness as the key to successful conservation of environment.
Mr. Asif M. Faisal highlighted many ongoing programs run by UNDP which assist the government agencies in championing international environmental obligations. However, he also addressed that financing as a key impediment to implementing environment protection in Bangladesh and identified public-private partnership as a viable source of green financing.
Dr. A.K.M Maksud Kamal applauded the government initiatives in safeguarding various components of nature and environment. However, he opined that their actual implementation is still a far cry due to a lack of pro-activeness among stakeholders. He also addressed that the overlapping laws result in unaccountability of state agencies which should be resolved.
Justice Md Ashraful Kamal commended the panellists on their observations and recommendations. He underlined that the riverine system, wetlands, forests and the natural resources are the embodiment of Bangladesh. He highlighted the need for a robust legal framework for renewable energy in Bangladesh along with a separate renewable energy ministry.
This year’s theme of World Environment Day was “Restoration of Ecosystem”. The panel highlighted that economy and environment are not combatant rather environmental degradation has a toll on the economic growth itself. A combined effort from the policy makers, state agencies, researchers, private sector and citizens is indispensable for a better environmental protection and restoration in Bangladesh.
Event reported by Abir Najmujjaman Sikder, Editorial Board member of DULPR.