The environment of Bangladesh is deteriorating fast.
Urban air quality is plummeting. Ground water is contaminated. Surface water
bodies are getting polluted, encroached, and degraded. Solid, fluid, gaseous,
and hazardous wastes are overflowing. Forests and open spaces are disappearing.
Noise is increasing. Bio-diversity is vanishing. Health conditions are suffering
due to pollution. Unless these processes of degradation are slowed down and
reversed, the country’s economic, social, cultural, and human progress will be
gradually hampered, and Bangladesh will become unlivable in the long-term.
There was a time, when some used to argue, referring to the so-called
Environmental Kuznets’ Curve, that environmental deterioration is inevitable
with industrialization and that environmental quality will be restored once the
country achieves high income level. However, international experience has now
shown that environmental deterioration is not inevitable and that
industrialization and economic progress can be achieved without letting the
environment to suffer inordinately. Moreover, there are many environmental
damages that are irreversible. Hence a country has to care for its environment
right from the beginning of industrialization and not wait till the damages are
already done. It is now possible to take advantage of the experience and the
availability of the technologies in order to avoid the mistakes of the past and
to develop while preserving the environmental quality.
Bangladesh has a very fragile environment characterized by deltaic conditions,
extremely high density of population (with already high ecological footprint per
unit of land), no large uninhabited open tract, little forest cover,
interconnected water bodies, and ubiquitous underground water table. It is easy
to damage Bangladesh’s environment, and due to the high density of population,
the human costs of pollution are high. Also, almost entire Bangladesh is close
to the sea level so that much of the country can get inundated by a rise in sea
level. Bangladesh therefore has particular reason to be worried about climate
change resulting from global warming.
BEN envisages a Bangladesh that will industrialize without destroying its
environment. It will save its lush green verdure, its rivers and lakes, its
flora and fauna from the ill effects of economic growth. BEN wants to see a
prosperous Bangla while at the same time being the beautiful, ruposhi Bangla, as
described by the poet Jibanananda. Finally BEN wants Bangladesh’s very existence
not to be threatened by sea level rise resulting from global warming.