Bangladesh has made important progress in a number of areas relating to environmental management but this has not matched the progress with the growth and poverty reduction agenda. Importantly Bangladesh is yet to adopt formally a “green growth strategy” that fully reconciles the development agenda with the protection of the environment. In the absence of the green growth strategy and associated regulations, policies and institutions, the costs of environmental degradation have grown over time. Additionally, the adverse effects of climate change are mounting and creating substantial downside risks and vulnerabilities. Against the backdrop of this, the government’s preparation of Vision 2041 under which Bangladesh is envisaged to reach World Bank-defined high income threshold by FY2041 and eliminate absolute poverty provides an important opportunity to take a fresh look at the environmental degradation and climate change risks. Unless required regulations, policies and institutional reforms are undertaken to fully reconcile the growth and poverty-reduction agenda with the environmental protection needs, there is a substantial risk that the income and poverty targets of Vision 2041 will not be achieved.
Over the years the government’s sensitivity to protecting the natural environment has increased. In 2009 the government adopted the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP). A draft National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSDS) was prepared in 2008 that was subsequently updated and broadened to make it consistent with the Sixth Five Year Plan and the Perspective Plan 2010-2020. The NSDS 2010-2021 was adopted in May 2013. An impressive list of environmental laws, regulations and plans covers a wide range of environmental issues including forestry control, air pollution, water pollution, bio-diversity preservation and wetland management. Additional laws, regulations and programmes related to agriculture, land, water management, fisheries and disaster management seek to safeguard environmental concerns in these areas including land degradation, sustainable management of fisheries resources, management of water resources, waste management and disaster risk mitigation.
Despite this array of policies and programmes, the overall environmental management performance in Bangladesh is weak owing to a number of binding constraints.