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Environment and natural resource management of Bangladesh

Human lives and livelihood in Bangladesh are intricately intertwined with nature. Consequently, no process of development and eradication of poverty can be conceived of without putting caring for environment and sustainable development at the centre stage. On the other hand, as the poor depend heavily on nature for their livelihood, without the whole-hearted involvement of the poor, caring for environment becomes an extremely difficult task. Bangladesh is a signatory of the Multilateral Environmental Agreement by which government is committed to undertake certain environmental management actions which will be largely beneficial to the poor.Operationally, poverty-environment linkages are evident at two levels - one is conservation of nature and natural resources for sustainable livelihood while the other is controlling/combating pollution for maintenance of biodiversity and protection of human health. The Government policies in the areas of macroeconomics and various sectors must keep in focus the impacts they might have on the environment. On the one hand there is “Green Vs. Brown” arguments that the country’s effort to grow fast, ignoring environmental concerns, may cause long-term damage to the environment and also dampen growth and development. At the same time it is also imperative for Bangladesh to grow faster in the short-run in order to reduce poverty. Therefore a careful balancing act must be orchestrated where economic growth is maximised without compromising environmental protection and safety. Policies and actions of the Government must not cause marginalization of the poor and force them to intensify over utilization of the open access natural resource base, or make them more vulnerable to pollution hazards.

On the other hand there is counter argument that growth will create fiscal space and resource that can be used to enhance the quality of growth and promote sustainable resource management. In terms of environmental issues it is important to keep in mind that in a country where the majority of the poor are highly dependent on natural resources, the improved management of natural resources is a prerequisite for poverty reduction.
Poverty-pollution linkages are the direct and indirect consequences of pollution, particularly of air and water, generated by public/private industries. These kinds of pollution have a strong human health impact, a major cause of erosion of human productivity and of death in many instances, particularly among the poor and marginalized communities. The combined pressure from the shrinking resource base and worsening living conditions weaken the productive capacity of the poor, make them more marginalised over time, and eventually trap them in what is often referred to as the “vicious circle of poverty”.